Dustin Parkes

Recent Posts

Despite the attempts of sports talk radio call-in programming, spouting poorly formed opinions on the current National Hockey League labor presumably reached its zenith of stupidity back in September when Canada’s Donald Trump suggested that NHL owners should simply fire all the players, sign replacements with incentive-laden contracts and be done with the matter entirely. Not to be advised by what is rational, hyperbolic commentary on the lockout – with outlooks ranging from the implementation of indentured servitude for players to guillotine sprees for the aristocratic owners – has continued to emerge, much to the detriment of the impressionable.

Thinking beyond sports, it seems that the more severe the conflict, the less likely a true victor is to emerge. In hockey, we have come to expect identifiable winners and losers. In fact, since the introduction of the shoot-out, each contest in the NHL can only result in win and lose outcomes. And so, as hockey fans turn desperate for the thrill of competition, we find ourselves taking sides in a dispute about dollars rather than goals, and aligning ourselves with negotiators in a similarly vicarious sense to how we once followed the sport.

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Coach’s Theatre

The role of the fool is an ancient one. While in more recent years the title has come to mean someone acting unwisely or in a silly manner, it used to refer to the court jester or a member of an aristocratic house charged with both amusing and criticizing their master or mistress. Perhaps this function of the past is best described by a single anecdote (or likely more accurately, legend): At a time when speaking out of turn was punishable by all manners of awfulness, Queen Elizabeth is said to have once chastised a fool for not being harsh enough in his denigrations of her.

Yes, one imagines that Jeffrey Ross would have done especially well in the Elizabethan era. However, the fool was more than merely an insult comic. While it may be exaggerated in modern retellings, the fool was able to speak the harsh truth at a time when no one else could. While their speech was protected by decree, they still had to tread carefully between critical amusement and snide comments that would result in whippings.

In the Sixteenth Century, distinctions were made between “natural” fools – those who were quite literally insane – and “licensed” fools – those who played the part for the sake of privileged employment. I am not sure which would better describe Canadian hockey icon Don Cherry, but I am certain that, in the most classical sense of the word, he is a fool.

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