The lady says, in all seriousness: "The thing that scares me most about moving to Vancouver is the rain. My hair is a big part of my beauty so the fact that I might be moving to an environment that might jeopardize that, it just scares me."
The lady is Noureen DeWulf, actress and wife to Vancouver Canucks goalie Ryan Miller. A little later in the unfolding, often gobsmacking drama that is Hockey Wives (W network, Wednesday, 10 p.m.), Noureen makes another appearance. Tiffany Parros, wife of NHL free agent George Parros, is giving her some clothes. Tiffany is a fashion designer who sells her wares online. Noureen is pleased that the clothes are low-cut. "I have such good boobs right now," she explains.
Okay. Hair. Boobs. What we have here, in Hockey Wives, is catnip to Canadian TV viewers. An inside look at the lives of the WAGs, the wives and girlfriends of our hockey stars. The players of now, the recent past and, in some cases, players who will be around for years.
A lot of people are obsessed with the private lives of NHL players, especially their lovers or significant others. On one level, the game's image is utterly sanitized. Tough guys, hard workers, salt-of-the-earth types who are warriors, but decent men. On another level, as we have come to learn, junior hockey in particular has a repulsive culture of predatory sexual behaviour. Misogyny is rife.
The upshot is a lurid national interest in NHL players and their off-ice, sometimes licentious lives. It's not part of the official culture. It's just there.
There are hints of the dynamic that surrounds NHL players in this rather ordinary reality show. That is, it would be ordinary in other contexts, but not in Canada. Sometimes, there is a subtly preening quality to the wives or girlfriends. The player is theirs. They got him, he's a trophy. We get that.
Tiffany Parros says, bluntly, "I don't think you can call me superficial, but I definitely married George for his looks." Meanwhile when we meet Maripier Morin, girlfriend of Brandon Prust of the Montreal Canadiens, she broaches the issue of infidelity. A TV presenter in Montreal, she's all verve and spike. "If Brandon cheated on me, I would cut his balls off. Cut them off and make him eat them." Mainly, though, she fears not betrayal, but that he will be traded and her career in Montreal means she won't be able to follow him. Also, he's the cook in the relationship. Morin says that when he's away, she lives on breakfast cereal.
And then there is the utterly charming couple Brijet and Ray Whitney. At the time the program was made, he was a free agent and has since retired. He had a 23-year career and played for eight teams. He and Brijet have been married for 14 years and together for 23 years. Brijet runs a website that aims to help hockey families adjust to the NHL and the ups and downs of a player's career. She's worried, she says, about Ray's retirement. Mainly because she's heard, "the divorce rate is 75 per cent after retirement." They seem terrifically decent people, loving and caring. But there's an edge to Brijet's speculation about the future.
A good deal of the program is what would you'd expect. Wives form their own communities, supporting each other, organizing charity events and, often, waiting for the dreaded trade of a partner to another team, another city.
In California, Nicole Brown, wife of captain of the LA Kings Dustin Brown, reigns as an intimidating den mother. She's a mother of four kids, and he's got an eight-year, $48-million contract. Around her, the other wives go quiet and watch. The dynamic is just a little bit fraught.
Apart from Nicole Brown, Noureen DeWulf, Tiffany Parros, Brijet Whitney and Maripier Morin, those profiled and chronicled include Martine Forget, Toronto Maple Leafs goalie Jonathan Bernier's fiancée; Emilie Blum, wife of Minnesota Wild defenceman Jonathon Blum; Kodette LaBarbera, married to goaltender Jason LaBarbera; Jenny Scrivens, wife of Edmonton Oilers goalie Ben Scrivens; and Wendy Tippett, wife of Arizona Coyotes coach Dave Tippett.
Often, one senses that portions of their lives, especially their anxieties, have been left out. You have to project a good deal onto what you see. But most Canadians can do that with relish. These lives are one our primary obsessions.