Archive for the ‘Rant’ Category

“Culture of sexual entitlement.”

These are the chilling words in the newly released details of the Boston University report on the incidents of sexual assaults by two team members. On the heels of this comes the announcement that three Sault St. Marie players (Nick Cousins, Andrew Fritsch, and Mark Petacchio) have been allowed to rejoin the team after a ten day “behavioral wellness program.”

We perceive sexual assault in the hockey world to be a rare occurrence. Unfortunately, the most recent cases at Boston University and Sault St. Marie are just the latest.

Consider this: Read the rest of this entry »

So, apparently the Toronto Maple Leafs decided to spruce up their dressing room a bit. And hey, why not? They’ve got sacks on sacks on sacks of money, so they might as well operate in a top-notch facility, keep their building a place where players desire to be, and just generally keep things updated.

Leafs’ coach Randy Carlyle had this to say on it:

“I just thought the room looked dark and tired in places. A lot of things had to be updated, such as the carpet, but we’ve also added some artwork, like murals and photos. There will also be some changes to things like the stalls, that a modern-day player in Toronto is going to appreciate.”

Right on, right on, my man, my man.

While browsing Reddit Hockey this morning, I came across a video linked from the Sun News Network, and it is truly, truly awful.

Extensive Googling has led me to believe the host’s name is David Menzies. (UPDATE: It is, and he’s the same guy who told Brian Burke to stop hiding behind the gay flag.)

He thinks that Randy Carlyle thinks upgrading the room is going fix the Leafs problems. “Why not spend that money on a goalie or a first-line center?” Good point Menzies. Leafs hadn’t thought of that yet, just you. Both are readily available, too. He thought the quote warranted naming Randy Carlyle as the Sun News “Moron of the Morning,” which is a thing he’s decided is a solid feature to have on a show with his name on it.

Holy Martha Stewart, Batman.”

Fresh.

Let’s break it down.

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There is an incessant need to assign blame in the way we analyze situations. We love our dichotomies. There are good guys and bad guys. People who are at fault and people who are victims. Winners. Losers. So on. So forth.

More often than not though, this isn’t how things work. Rarely, in the grand scheme of things, do things break up so conveniently. It would be magnificent for those of us who have to write about things, but it’s simply not the case. When it is broken up that way, it’s largely fabricated.

I’m here to tell you NHL Labor Dispute 2012 (TM) is not Gary Bettman’s fault. It’s not Donald Fehr’s fault. It’s not the owners’ fault. It’s not the players’ fault. It’s their collective fault.

They are all utterly terrible.
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The importance of player unions

Quick, let’s start the hockey season before the junior players are locked out as well.

Piecing together a few thoughts, the idea of a Canadian Hockey League Player’s Association makes simultaneously a lot of sense and a little sense. There have been denials on both sides, evidently, that anything will come of the alleged meeting with players representing all three leagues.

The sticking point for me is that to sell the idea of a union for players, you need a pretty big face, or players risk being blacklisted for their support. The best CHL players were last week, were scattered across the globe in Yaroslavl, Halifax, Breclav and Piestany for various August international tournaments. The NHLPA had Ted Lindsay, the NFLPA had Jim Brown and the NBAPA had Bob Cousy. The MLBPA had Bob Feller. Without a big-name captain or star, can this really get off the ground?

The CHL is an odd league. The best players only stick around for a year or two, using it as a stepping stone between minor hockey and the NHL, while the players who form the strongest bond in the community tend to be depth players until their 20-year old season.

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Isn’t it almost time for prospect and training camps to open up? Forget it. We won’t see those until November at the earliest and possibly not until December. The economic reality of the current National Hockey League structure suggests that to gouge every single penny from the fan as possible, some teams may have to shut down for a month or so.

One thing that strikes me about the current labour negotiations is how determined the NHL seems to be at beating the union in every way possible. Their initial offer was pretty laughable and takes away a lot of the power from players. After a year without hockey last time around, the union had little power and an agreement was forced on them. There was a salary cap, originally a non-starter for the Player’s Association, was now implemented and tied to modest league revenue. No way the players had won this round of bargaining.

I even heard the “idiot-proof system” mantra floated about. Owners had cost-certainty and there would be parity. Seven years later, player salaries and league revenue have escalated. Are we really convinced that if the player’s share of hockey-related revenue is reduced, that player salaries will stop escalating?

Revenue, from my standpoint, is tied to demand of the product, not how much it costs to run a hockey team. The current system will be changed, but not overhauled, for the simple reason that too many big-market clubs have everything to gain by keeping their revenues high and player salaries low.

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Cut the bond
with one you cannot reach!
The best of those who make a bond
Are those who can break it.
- Labid, The Mu’allaqa

There is a traditional form of Arabic poetry called the qasida. It is Bedouin poetry, meaning it was developed in a nomadic society in the time before writing.  It’s the kind of poetry meant to be composed spontaneously in front of a crowd, and was therefore both quite formulaic and flamboyantly unique. The themes were set by tradition, so all the artistry was in the execution, the mastery of rhythm and meter, the potency of the imagery. By modern standards, it’s kind of odd imagery (there’s a lot of camels and date palms), but the elegance of the expression is extraordinary.

Pretty much every qasida is about the absence of love. Not unconsummated love, not unrequited love, but gone love. They all begin the same way: the poet arrives at the campsite of the beloved to find her gone- her people have left, her tribe has moved on, and nothing remains but tent pegs and deer shit. From there it spins off in different directions- sometimes the poet tries to track her across the wastes, sometimes he reflects nostalgically on the time they were together, sometimes he falls into despair and dissolution. But they never get together at the end. He never finds her. There are no happily ever afters in a qasida. There is never any actual love. There’s just the hole in your life where the love used to be.

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My coaches of old would find it comical that I’m the guy writing this article, but it has to be said: the New Jersey Devils are playing with a visible lack of fire/grit/stones/balls/sandpaper/heart/whatever-you-want-to-call-it in the Stanley Cup Final. Game 3 was borderline pathetic.

Not all hockey fans are down with “old school” thinking, but in this case, to hell with ‘em - the Devils badly needed to stir some shit up at the end of Game 3. They rolled over like a disciplined dog staring down the nose of a snausage.

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