This was a big week for hockey fans with the NHL season opener ringing in a brand new set of Stanley Cup hopes and dreams. But no sooner had the fun begun than Montreal Canadiens enforcer George Parros got into a fight that ended with him bashing his face straight into the ice and being carried off on a stretcher. Fortunately, Parros was in good enough shape to be discharged from hospital the next day. However, the concussion he suffered means he is out "indefinitely" (the Canadiens' word), and the whole question of whether the NHL should crack down on fighting has been raised afresh.
I'm Canadian. I like sports. I like hockey. I also happen to be Black. That's why it was such a point of pride to see P.K. Subban on the ice; the NHL was finally making good on its intention to court more non-white fans. Then I watched P.K.'s teammate, George Parros, get wheeled off the ice on a stretcher, and I wondered how many new fans thought they just saw a man die.
True story. Early one morning as my wife was signing-in at a corporate golf tournament, a charming and magnetic man sidled up to her and, with a playful twinkle in his eyes, he smiled mischievously and told her that he loved her. Turns out, that man was Walter Gretzky. This was just another notch in my long (and partially true) history with the Gretzky family.
That the CBC should celebrate Hockey Night in Canada's birthday, and not its own, is emblematic of the dire straits in which the broadcaster finds itself, having reached the end of the line in its quest to make a success of the hybrid, commercial/public service model it was saddled with at birth, like a club foot.
We get it, hockey people (myself included). We know you like to act tough. But, please, please, please... Everybody in the NHL, for the love of whatever imaginary friend in the sky you believe in WEAR A VISOR! Fact is, visors don't save you from everything. They're not supposed to. But, they can still save your career. They can save you from something far worse.
I take full accountability for the fact that my kids are hardly ever...nay...are NEVER able to take accountability for their failures. When my son came out of the dressing room, his first words were, "We lost because the refs weren't calling any penalties on the other team." My husband stopped in his tracks, turned to face our little forlorn, sore loser, and said, "No. You lost because you guys stopped skating in the second period."
Don Cherry's regressive rhetoric betrays Canada's reputation as a nation of inclusiveness and cultural tolerance. The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation has tolerated this treatment for too long. Don Cherry's distasteful diatribes belong in hockey's past, not in the Canadian national pastime's present or future.
I fail at being Canadian. I don't know the first thing about curling and I don't care for hockey. Last Friday night, at an incredible burlesque show, while there were a number of hugely talented people doing a fundraiser for the arts, attention was riveted to a bunch of ice-skating gorillas. I can't say I'm surprised, but I am a little bit disappointed in my Vancouver brethren.
One benefit of the National Hockey League strike: it gave people time to play outside on real ice! But outdoor skating could face the same difficulties as the NHL -- a drastically shorter season or outright cancellation. Research from Montreal's McGill and Concordia universities shows global warming is already having an effect on outdoor rinks in Canada.