Sunday, 19 April 2015

Strong women make TV series Hockey Wives a hit

With the abundance of reality shows featuring women of wealth and glamour, it would be easy to dismiss the new series Hockey Wives: Married to the Game as another clone. Instead, viewers are treated to a group of strong women that go beyond the trophy wife stereotype. The demeaning term Puck Bunny certainly does not apply here, as many of the wives and girlfriends in the program have their own careers.
By season’s end, viewers and cynics alike will be able to determine if this program is more documentary worthy than the reality shows which show decadent lifestyles and narcissism beyond reproach, where jealousy and resentment lead to the claws coming out. So far, there have been no such catty displays. There are certainly no extravagant lifestyles or excessive shopping sprees in this program.
Yet, a scene in the inaugural program certainly indicates that a pecking order exists among the group of wives and girlfriends. Said group gathers at the house of Nicole Brown, a former women’s ice hockey player, currently married to LA Kings captain (and two-time Stanley Cup champion) Dustin Brown. Of all the wives and girlfriends, Nicole would appear to be the power player. Somewhat boasting about her husband’s eight-year contract (and his subsequent retirement plans), her future is the most secure.
Among the other women that visit Brown’s house, the only other famous wife would be Noureen DeWulf, an actress whose most prominent role was on Anger Management. Of note, the opening scene in the first episode actually features Noureen DeWulf, who is pregnant with the child of Vancouver Canucks Ryan Miller, cooking curry chicken.
The redeeming element of the program is that it also delves into real world aspects, such as husbands George Parros and Ray Whitney, whose are on the edge of retirement. Dealing with such realities adds an empathic element to the show, as each other’s wives are a significant source of emotional support.
Tiffany Parros and Bridjet Whitney are certainly the glue that holds their families together, let alone the program. Parros has been featured in every episode and her demeanor beams of confidence, complemented by a beauty that was made to be in front of the camera. As a side note, her younger sister played at Brown, met George in Chicago because her brother played junior hockey with him.
Despite being past the age of 40, Bridjet Whitney has her own appeal. In an interview with The Hockey News, she admitted that many wives hold grudges about hockey stuff. A strong woman who has developed a website that deals with the aspects of being a hockey wife, she is also a valued friend for many other hockey wives, who count on her for support.
In the first episode, such support is evident with former military specialist Emilie Blum. Having given up her career and following her husband’s career, the loyal Blum was devastated when her husband Jonathon was demoted from the Minnesota Wild to their AHL affiliate in Iowa. With tears streaming down her face, Whitney was there to give her a reassuring hug. Her loyalty and devotion proves that the uncertainty of being forced to pack and leave for another team at any time affects all members of a players’ family.
With so many different wives featured in the program (ten in total), there are several who do not appear in every episode. So far, very little has been seen of the likes of Martine Forget, Jenny Scrivens and Wendy Tippett, With the show featuring wives and players based in a variety of areas such as Calgary (Kodette LaBarbera), California (Brown, DeWulf, Scrivens), Iowa (Blum), Las Vegas (Parros), Montreal (Maripier Morin) Phoenix (Whitney and Tippett) and Toronto (Forget),
Although it does it make it difficult for some viewers to connect with the wives, the program definitely possesses an authenticity to the program, not sugar coating the emotions and travails that entail the life of a hockey wife. From LaBarbera living with an autistic son, to Blum’s constant life on the road, Brown working tirelessly to raise four children and manage a household, to Morin dealing with commitment issues, their lives may be more hectic than their hockey playing husbands.

It is definitely refreshing to see these strong women earn some recognition and gain an opportunity to share the spotlight. The friendships that develop between wives is a whole other subplot in hockey that has never truly been revealed before. As each wife has a mutual understanding of what life is like when married to a hockey player (from the moving to the injuries), they certainly become like sisters to each other, an invaluable support mechanism.  Such aspects shine through on the screen, making it essential television viewing for any hockey fan. 

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