From the archives: Our family holiday letter

Editor’s note: Hockey East commissioner Joe Bertagna wrote this in 2003 as part of a column that ran on USCHO in early 2004, imagining how a letter in a holiday card from a hockey family might read.

Dear Friends,

It’s hard to believe another year has come and gone. So much has happened with our family, I don’t know where to begin. But I’ll try.

We are all so proud of Bryan. He was heavily recruited as a walk-on at State University and will be going there next fall. He made a verbal commitment to seven other schools, just to be safe, but State just seemed like a perfect fit. It has been a whirlwind year for Bryan, what with the three junior teams he has been on and his 23rd birthday and all.

Jonathan (19) loves St. Grottlesex Prep. It seems like the perfect place for him. Unlike the last three. He is turning a few heads with his scoring ability. As of last week, he was 22-0-22. The only disappointment for Jon was the fact that his teammates couldn’t see fit to vote him captain. We were all shocked.

Mary (15) is playing goal on the boys high school team. Not because she’s our daughter, but she is clearly the best goalie on the team. However the coach is playing some senior boy. I don’t want to say it’s political but …

Christopher (14) made the high school squad too, as a freshman. The coach says he will see more ice time if he can show more “self control.” We think the new meds will help.

Billy just celebrated his 8th birthday in Minsk. Yes, that Minsk. We heard of this fabulous Russian coach who can turn even the weakest mite into a potential NHL star. Billy wasn’t too keen on going but we know he’ll thank us when they start allowing mail.

Little Derek is doing just super in the Learn to Play program our town runs on the weekends. It was a battle just to get him enrolled. Something about him having to be able to walk or some nonsense. Not because he’s our child, but he is clearly the best 2-year-old out there.

The only bad news from the past 12 months is that Benjamin (12) decided not to play hockey this year. Frankly, we don’t know what’s the matter with him. We have signed him up for every program available since he was 4 and this is how he thanks us. It’s actually worse than that. He has decided he wants to be a referee! We just don’t know what to do.

As for us, the old folks in the house, we are just trying to make sure the kids grow up like normal kids and keep a sense of perspective in their lives. Bob was going to visit Billy over the holidays until we got Direct TV. Now we can’t tear him away from the NHL Center Ice package. (He loves it!) As many of you already know, we lost the lawsuit so Bob will have to stay away from the local rink for the next six months. (I still don’t believe that ‘Zero Tolerance’ thing is constitutional! And that ref was WAY too sensitive. All Bob wanted to do was speak with him in the parking lot. And he was NOT pushed. He clearly slipped on that ice and, well, we have to abide by the gag order and that’s all I can say here.) Bob can catch Mary and Chris on the road but unless we can convince the town to put Derek on the mite travel squad, we don’t know how Bob will get to see him play.

For those of you who tried to visit us over the holidays, I’m sorry we hadn’t gotten word out about the move. We had a rough year financially, what with legal bills and Bob being laid off. We missed a mortgage payment or two in the fall and the bank just wouldn’t be flexible. I told Bob that the kids could get by with one Synergy each but you know Bob. He wouldn’t listen. (I thought three was excessive.) Anyway, we make decisions as a family and all of us agreed that when it came to the choice of paying the November mortgage or signing Christopher up for next summer’s Hockey Night, it was a no-brainer. (I know the exposure helped Jonathan.)

The big news is that I am the newest hockey player in the family. That’s right. I joined an over-40 league for women beginners and I LOVE IT! We skate once a week and hope to enter a tournament in Canada in February and in Prague in May.

Well, gotta go. See ya around the rinks!

Carol Smith and the Smith family

P.S. I almost forgot Arthur (18). He is a senior, made National Honor Society, but continues to boycott athletic contests of any kind. He won’t play. He won’t watch his siblings. How weird is that? Bob and I try to show him the same love we have for the others but he acts like he is embarrassed to be seen with us. We have suggested counseling but he has refused. Bob and I are determined not to let Arthur’s selfishness ruin the lives we have created for his brothers and sister.