In case you were wondering where Classics might lead you ... excerpts from Steve Simmons' column in the Winnipeg Sun (it was probably in all the Suns):

On Hockey Night In Israel, Sherry Bassin walks out the back of the Canada Centre, turns left, turns right and then points up the hill past the barb-wired fence.

"See that," he says with emotion, his eyes searching up the hill. "That's Lebanon. That's the Hezbollah flag. That's how close we are.

"One year ago, on the 12th of July, the mayor here got a call. He was asked, 'Can you put up 600 soldiers in your homes?' Now think about it? Here is a town of 1,000 people. And you know what they did? They put most of them up right here in the arena.

"They sent the children and elderly to Tel Aviv (more than two hours away) with rockets flying over the city. That was just a year ago. And tonight, in the same place where these soldiers lived, we're going to have a hockey tournament."

Bassin is an oxymoron if ever there was one -- a Jewish Canadian hockey man from Saskatchewan, had never been to Israel before and kissed the ground when he arrived.

"I can't believe I waited all these years before coming. I can't believe how foolish I was. I can't believe what I'm feeling now."

The first World Jewish Ice Hockey Tournament began on a Tuesday afternoon in July in this tiny town in northern Israel, so picturesque it looks like the south of France, with Bassin's voice cracking, and emotion almost everywhere.

This isn't what Israel looks like on the nightly news, even a flick shot away from Lebanon. This isn't what hockey looks like on the nightly news, either, especially on the opening night of the world tournament featuring teams from Canada, Israel, France and the United States.


Don Cherry may not like this but Israel, coached by Stanley Cup winner, Jean Perron, defeated Team Canada 2-1, coached by Bassin, the well-known junior hockey executive, on a night of wet ice, wet air and wet eyes in Metulla.


Unlike Bassin, Jean Perron is not Jewish, but like Bassin, he is wonderfully passionate and expressive.

Four years ago, a Montreal businessman named Alan Maislin asked him if he would like to donate one day of his life for Israeli hockey.

"'Israel hockey,' I said," Perron said. "Is there hockey in Israel?"

One day turned into four years and who knows how many more.

"As someone who grew up learning classical studies in Quebec, the Holy Land for me was a dream."

The dream culminated with Perron being named national team coach (after Ted Nolan turned down the job) and taking an Israeli team of unknowns to the gold medal in the 'C' version of the world hockey championships.