Hockey. It's all about blood, sweat and, well, beers.

 For most of us who let the draft pass us by some years ago, we never let a draught pass us by after unlacing the blades after a tilt. Some call them pick-up or adult-safe (yeah, right) leagues, but we belong to the beer league generation.

There is no fear of lockouts, strikes, salary arbitration or after-game press conferences, only a lot of pulled groins, Tiger Balm, tall tales, and spilt suds.

Another summer passes and it's time to suck in the ol' gut, hit the local hockey shop and pick up a coupla twigs 'er, hockey sticks. Time to air out the hockey bag you dragged out from behind the furnace where the cats used it during the summer as their litter box. Time to stretch muscles that haven't been stretched since the Habs bowed out to the Anaheim  last spring.

All across the province men and women are getting ready to lace up their wheels and hone their shootin' skills so they can bury a few biscuits in the basket and feel like they're Orr, Gretzky, Heatley or Haley.

But what would "old time hockey" be without a couple of brewskies after the tilt? A little relaxer to ease the pain of that 6-1 drubbing at the hands of a team named "Team White". It's the glory of surviving the best game in the world, and then sucking down some cool refreshing pitchers after the game with your mates. A little aimless banter about squat-all.

Beer leagues are also about listening to teammates giving their Harry Neale-esque critiques of their play after the game. It's all about trying to find equitable ice time for the guy who makes a pylon look mobile. It's all about tapping into the competitiveness we all have, staying out of the penalty box, chilling out, then laughing about how stupid it is to allow a glorified pickup game among a bunch of ham-fisted hosers to get carried away. One pop to cool down, then it's up to the bar for another, and more mindless banter about the game, letting the steam from another work week slowly rise off.

In the end, though, after all the ice chips have settled, it's just another Beer League Night in Canada.