Pic via @BNewbs16

Pic via @BNewbs16

I’ve beaten the fact that I played a minimal amount of pro level hockey games to a merciless pulp as a writer over the years, but hey, as Too Short said, get in where you fit in. That said…I’m playing the card today.

The media – and by “the media,” I’m very much am referring to many of my friends in the media – need to quit bitching about being told to keep their dirty shoe soles off “our” (in the general sense) team logo, because it’s something “we’ve” chosen to respect and revere and it’s not that hard (or at least shouldn’t be) for someone with a recording device to shuffle two steps left to get to their interview.

Yesterday Justin Bieber got his picture taken with the Stanley Cup in the Chicago Blackhawks dressing room. He hugged it, they hung “his” jersey in Jonathan Toews stall, and he stepped on the logo as you can see above (and not just stepped on it – he ground his LA Lights or Heelys or whatever a swag teen bro like Bieber wears these days, right into the unblemished feathers of the Indian).

Pic via @PJHassen

Pic via @PJHassen

Today, Greg Wyshynski of Puck Daddy took up the often-seen-and-heard torch for media members that boy-oh-boy, is it silly that nobody be allowed to step on the logo. Our media buddies like to rally around this cause, and the echo chamber of Twitter makes it feel like a thing everyone agrees on: yeah, the whole “don’t step on the logo” thing is preposterous.

This is obviously not a unique opinion amongst people who enter dressing rooms looking for quotes, especially those who have likely been told at one time or another to please not step on the logo.

Let’s go for a walk:

I’m a fairly smart cookie. I’m not under the impression that jinxes are real or anything, but I’ve never touched the Stanley Cup because it’s part of the whole mystique of It. It devalues the sacred chalice if peasants like me and Bieber (not that we’re in the same class) are smearing our fingerprints on it. The idea that that’s for the likes of Bobby Orr and Wayne Gretzky and Guy LaFleur is part of what makes it so romantic. I’m aware that Andrew Shaw and Brad Marchand and Matt Cooke have their name on it, I’m aware that an equipment manager or 12 has slept with it, and I’m aware that Clark Gillies fed his German Shepherd “Hombre” out of it. But that’s okay, because they won it, and like unlocking another level of a video game or whatever, they’ve earned the right.

There’s a reason commercials like “No Words” and “History Will Be Made” and the like resonate so deeply with hockey fans – we’re a nostalgic group that likes to pay tribute to the past…and part of that past is in the team logo.

I don’t care if it’s the Bossier-Shreveport Mudbugs logo or not, whether there’s real history or just the ambition to create some, the concept of “team” is as strong or stronger in hockey than any other sport, and that “team” concept, for many of us, is wrapped up in the logo we wear on our chests.

As hockey players, we’re told our whole life: you play for the logo on the front, not the name on the back. Maybe not everyone buys in all the time, but a whole lot of people do, and over the years, a whole lot of people have bought into that Blackhawks logo. What’s on the front of your jersey becomes revered, despite the fact that it’s placed where opponents can get to it. Much like the one on the floor of the dressing room, you’d prefer that they don’t.

Big hockey is a business at this point, and nobody will debate that. Lockouts have confirmed it. So when Wyshysnki says “You can argue the sacred reverence of the logo when they stop putting it on dog bowls,” it’s kind of an eye-roller, like that somehow devalues the concept for the actual players who are choosing to buy into the idea of themselves. Let the marketing team do what they want to make money, we’ll be in here giving a damn, sacrificing teeth trying to win a Cup.

I realize, in practical, logical terms that it doesn’t make sense. I’m here, I’m with you, I can process that. It’s carpet space, there’s only so much room in this place, and it’s annoying to have to avoid when it gets busy in here. But that’s what we do as people – we assign elevated worth to arbitrary things, like Star Wars figurines or autographs or whatever, and in general, we’d prefer that people leave alone the “arbitrary” things that mean most to us.

It doesn’t have to mean sh*t to the media who come into the room to do their job, the point is, if the team has decided that that logo means something to them (and not all make that call), then it really shouldn’t be too much to ask some outsiders to take an extra two steps in their discount Rockports.

Comments (40)

  1. “peasants like me and Bieber (not that we’re in the same class)”

    Yeah, you are. Neither won a Stanley Cup.

    But only one of you gets the respect thing.

  2. I agree with all you said, but for one point: please do not list Shaw and Marchand with that ****ing fetid POS Cooke. Thank you.

  3. Another great article from backhand shelf. As a hockey player, I understand the logo being sacred and agree that it should not be stepped on, and media/celebrities should do their best to abide by the rule if possible. If they do step on it, they should just get fined, like a player would. Keep it up Bourne!

  4. Great article. Players understand the respect towards a team and it’s colours. To the media, it’s just another team logo.

  5. The players earned the right to wear the logo and have a locker room adorned with the logo in the carpet. The reporters will argue they earned it to but for any of us who tried to make it to the L and didn’t, we have a different version of earned the right. Most of these reporters turned reporter when they were cut from JV their senior year and don’t understand the sacrifice many have made to earn the right to wear a logo.

  6. The only players I could take this kind of sentiment from is a one-team player. You can’t tell me how important the team’s logo is and then walk to another team next season. I don’t blame players for making the best money they can— me and everyone else would do the same in their position, but perhaps those in the media are better at being honest about sports being a business than some of the athletes (current and former)are.

  7. I appreciate this article so much. The media doesn’t have to like or agree with the reverence and tradition given to the floor logo. However, they absolutely do not have any right to take that reverence or tradition away, or advise the team or players that it should not be the case. Quite simply, it doesn’t belong to them and they don’t belong to it. The dog bowl argument is weak. We assign different values to similar objects based on context all the time. Finally, demonstrations of reverence and respect are not based on convenience. In fact, the inconvenience and effort can reinforce the value assigned and increase the value, reverence, and respect.

  8. I respect that the media has a job to do and that it’s not their choice to be doing interviews in the locker room… With that said, when you’re entering into the team’s inner-sanctum, just show a little respect. I doubt that members of the media that get the opportunity to interview players -or anyone else for that matter- in their homes would kick up their feet on that person’s coffee table while they’re getting an interview. If players don’t like people stepping on the logo and you’re in their space to get the soundbytes that you need, just respect their wishes. Seems simple enough, no?

    • Wouldn’t the better analogy here be “if the reporter goes to the player’s house, would he step on their carpet?” ha.

      • There are many many houses where someone has a single cherished Persian carpet that they don’t want you to step on. In my house we had dozens and they were there for standing. Just because that’s how it worked in my house didn’t mean I had any less respect for the rules at somebody else’s house.

        It’s not the image; it’s the idea, and I don’t think the US flag has any less meaning just because they print it on dog bowls (or underwear for that matter.)

  9. Guys. . . if you can’t bear for anyone to trample on your sacred cow, don’t put it on the floor. Jesus Christ, this is a stupid hill to die on. Or even stub your toe on.

  10. Well put, Justin. You obviously get it. It’s not too much to ask of people that they show respect for the logo, regardless of where it’s located. As an equipment manager I still cringe when I see a picture from a photo shoot where some photographer thinks it would be cool to show the jersey laid out on the floor. We have a very strict rule about our jerseys. They are like our flag, for the very reason that they have our logo on the front. It drives us crazy to see people lay it on the floor. Coincidentally, this is why I’ve never liked the whole “logo in the carpet” thing. That said, it shouldn’t be that hard to respect the wishes of the team that you not trample all over their logo. Just show some respect for the wishes of the team. It’s their room. Just because they allow you access to it, that doesn’t mean it’s yours to do with as you please.

  11. I guess my question here (Bieber aside, because we can see him doing it) is: do these hockey writers actually step on the logos, or do they follow the rules while at the same time saying they’re dumb? I think that makes a HUGE difference.

    Because I totally agree about respecting the worth of someone’s belongings, even if arbitrary. But your hypothetical Star Wars collectibles and autographs are probably on a shelf, or framed or something, right? If I come to your house and you have them out on the kitchen table where you’re serving pizza and beer… I certainly wouldn’t mess with them, OF COURSE… but I might also think (or say right out loud) “why don’t you move these things that are valuable to you out of the way while you’re having a party?”

    If these writers are actually saying “I think the rule is dumb, so I go right ahead and step on the logo,” then that’s a whole different thing; I just don’t remember ever reading that from any of them so I’m giving them the benefit of the doubt.

    • Teams apparently will either have the area cordoned off with rope or have people guarding it making sure nobody steps on it.

  12. wishing James Wisniewski was there (0:55 mark) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iFEDZUVdE7w continue to the 1:30 mark to see why its on the floor, you play for the logo on the front not the name on the back

    • Haha that is awesome. “$100 fine and I get to punch you in the face.”

      • Oh man!! I would pay $100 to have Wisniewski punch Bieber in the face. Is there like a collection plate or a pledge form?

  13. Definitely agree with you, JB. Player’s house, player’s rules, in my opinion. That being said, maybe there’s a middle ground. It seems the loudest critics are the ones that have been scolded.

    Maybe if the players were a bit more…polite (maybe have the PR person say something on the side) about it instead of yelling at them across the room, it would go over better. Just a suggestion!

  14. I think something you may have been getting at also is that this is “our room” that we are letting “you” (the media, or any visitor) into. Much like being a guest in someone elses house it good manors to abide by the owners rules.

  15. I think this is akin to people asking you to remove your shoes when you go in to their home. Their house, their rules, respect their policies.

    Don’t get a ll Larry David and refuse to take your shoes off.

  16. Let the curse of Bieber begin in Chicago.

  17. You say it’s the “players” and the “team” that have decided the logo is sacred and they’ll block shots for it and whatever. That’s your whole argument, and that’s how you’re drawing a big thick distinction between the players and, say, the marketing folks. But the headline says the “media and everyone else” should avoid stepping on it? You just drew this big distinction between players and non-players in order to dodge Wysh’s dog bowl point, but somehow you want it both ways.

    Well, at least you have the sense to admit the argument makes no sense. So we’ve all got that clear insight into your thought process.

    • I get that you think you’re expressing a coherent opinion that absolutely destroys Bourne’s argument, but you’re really not. I can’t figure out what point you’re trying to make at all.

    • The dog bowl point is a huge over-reach though. The logo in all shapes and forms is not what the players place value and importance on. At face value, the logo is just an identifier for the franchise. But its not the logo on my Bobby Orr replica sweater that the Bruins block shots for, it’s the logo on their chests while they are on the ice, busting their sack for the TEAM. Likewise, the logo on the locker room floor isn’t there just because they thought it would be cute, it’s there in the middle of the room so that everybody has a prominant reminder of what they’re playing for and what they have committed to: the TEAM. So in the grand scheme of things, unless the team places any importance on dog bowls, I don’t think that angle has much weight to it.

    • If you’re saying that players are allowed to step on it, you’re mistaken. Players in particular are expected to know and to not step on the logo. You’d probably get a stern talking to from one of the vets if you did.

  18. At the end of the day, it’s just a game. Nothing about it should be placed above common sense.

  19. I like how you brought up Star Wars figurines to really bring it home for Wysh.

  20. I”m with bourne on all points here. Did beiber do anything to win the cup? I mean, if he did something nice for the team, or hell, even held Patrick Kane’s beer at the after party, sure, join in. But if he did nothing? Hands off.

    And the logo thing, it’s kind of childish, sure, But it’s the rules. And it might be easier to say “WELL DONT PUT IT THERE THEN” in the summer, outside of the locker room, but I’d like Wysh to walk into the Devs locker room this fall and tell that to Cam Janssen, then we can have the conversation.

  21. The beauty and curse of hockey – only a select few really understand the whole thing. I try to limit what I read and who I talk to about hockey, and if works most of the time. This is why this blog is one I read.

  22. Thank you for posting this. The only people that really get it are the ones who have played or been in the locker room daily (equipment, training staff). So journalists get all upset if they are told not to step on the logo? Too bad. We don’t want you in our locker rooms anyway.

  23. I understand the idea of not stepping on the logo, but isn’t there a giant logo at center ice in every NHL arena? I have never seen a player try to avoid skating on it.

    • You’re not supposed to skate down the middle of the ice with your head down, right? Never knew the logo was there ;-P

  24. In simpler terms, how hard is it for reporters to not be dicks? My baseless speculation is so many of them had bruised egos from being told in a not-so-polite manner not to step there when they were newly admitted and nervous that they never got over it.

    Even if you think it’s silly, it has a symbolic value to the players, you see the players all the time, is it that hard to make that little concession to avoid a pointless conflict? It’s not even like the players say, “ONLY WE CAN STEP THERE” and relegate the reporters to a second class.

  25. I love that the arguments against not stepping on the logo (that barely makes sense but ‘for stepping on the logo’ seems too strong) essentially boil down to either a) it’s a dumb rule/idea, or b) they put it on other things.

    The first is about the lowest level of intellect possible (which fits at puck daddy) and is about on par with the argument you’d get from a toddler, it’s dumb because I don’t like it. Not much analysis needed there, typical moaning from media members with an unearned sense of entitlement.

    The second isn’t much better (also making it fit right in at puck daddy), as it ignores the fact that the request isn’t to avoid stepping on, or disrespecting, any and all iterations of the logo, but rather to not step on this particular one that a group of individuals have deemed to be important to them, both individually and as a group. The logo doesn’t rise to the level of a flag, but the analogy works. There are hundreds of items with flags or national symbols printed on them that we don’t expect to be treated with the same reverence you would treat a flag, and in this case it’s one particular flag with increased meaning. You wanna wipe your clubs off on the logo on a bag towel? Go ahead. You wanna wipe your bag off on the logo of a bath towel? Go ahead. The importance isn’t derived from the symbol, it’s from what that symbol means to the people who call that room home. If you don’t like it either shut your mouth or get your interviews outside, or better yet, find a new job.

  26. Yes = “Their house, their rules, respect their policies.”

    I thought it was weird when teams started putting their logos on the floor but, fuck, it’s their floor. Personally I think it started off as a power thing “hey, fuck you with the questions, by the way, get off my logo you douche” then morphed into something else. But in any group or team working with a common goal against another group or team, eventually something becomes sacred — flag, logo, historical event, whatever.

  27. If the logo is that important, DON’T PUT IT ON THE F****** FLOOR! When you go to church, is the cross on the ground? No. When you salute a flag, is the flag on the ground? No. If the logo is that symbolically important, put it on the wall, hang it from the ceiling. You don’t look down on something you admire and respect. You look up to it.

    Not to mention that this is in a dressing room that reeks of sweat and piss.

    • It’s on the floor in the middle of the room because the players are seated for the bulk of the time. Everyone can look at the logo as they get dressed and prepared for the game. It’s a focal point for the team, a rallying point, a reminder. If it was on the roof, you have to crane your neck. On the wall, not everyone could see it from their chair. There’s always that moment before a game where everyone is looking down gathering their thoughts.

      It’s on a dog bowl because my dog only eats from official NHL merchandise. It’s in his contract.

  28. Justin Bieber – the somewhat less mature Amy Winehouse….minus the talent and good judgement of course. What’s the over/under on a Bieber flame-out? Hopefully not 27!

  29. Nothing says “respect our logo” like putting on the floor.

    So stupid.

    I would step on any emblem that’s on the floor. Why? Because that’s what floors are for.

    If it’s not supposed to be stepped on, putting on a wall, or the ceiling.

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