Weekly Links

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Derek Boogaard. Photo from the Globe and Mail.

Welcome to Hockey in Society’s Weekly Links post. This feature highlights articles or blog entries that are related to Hockey in Society’s areas of interest and that may be of interest to the site’s readers. Please check out some of the great writing that is happening in the hockey media and blogosphere!

‘Miracle on Ice’ defenseman Bob Suter passes away at 57 [Pro Hockey Talk]

Derek Boogaard’s death prompts arrests 3 years later [CBC Sports] also covered by [The Globe and Mail]

Sportsnet reposted an article in memory of the 3 year anniversary of Lokomotiv tragedy [The team that disappeared]

Say goodbye to the spin-o-rama from shootouts! The NHL announces 10 rules changes. [The Hockey News]

More sad news: HBO will no longer be producing 24/7 [The Hockey News]

The Pens recently found themselves in social media hot water over some controversial wording. [Puck Daddy]

Amanda Kessel will be sitting out the 2014-2015 season due to lingering concussion symptoms.  [Puck Daddy]

The Pink Puck highlights some issues with age eligibility rules in minor league hockey. [The Pink Puck]

Emily Cornelius discusses how hard it is for players to make it to the big league [Huffington Post]

Making Warrior Accountable: A social media campaign

It was recently brought to my attention that Warrior is a horrible company.  When I say “horrible” I don’t mean that their equipment is horrible.  This is the same Warrior worn and used by Alex Burrows, Shane Doan, Ilya Kovalchuk, Henrik Zetterberg and Alexei Kovalev among others.  I myself purchased a Warrior Covert DT1 a few months ago. I love the stick, but I no longer love Warrior.  And, unless they change their sexist and misogynistic ways I will no longer be consuming any more Warrior products.  I encourage you to do the same.

I have never shopped on Warrrior’s website and I don’t follow them on social media, so up until last Friday I had no idea what Warrior considers “marketing”.  Someone on Twitter informed me that the following comment can be found on Warrior’s FAQ page:

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Funny thing is that Warrior does serve “that” demographic, just not with women’s specific clothing or equipment.  And if you search “women’s,” this is what comes up:

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So, okay they don’t make women’s gear – they have made that abundantly clear. And no one is asking them to go out of their way to include women.  But then why does Warrior go out of its way  to make women (or men shopping for women) with the intent of purchasing its equipment feel like crap?  I’m going to go out on a limb and speak on behalf of all women athletes and tell you right now, we already feel like outsiders so there is no need to rub it in.  We know that there are very few women’s specific items on the shelves.  We know that even if we find something in a men’s that we like it probably won’t come in an appropriate size for us.  We know that hockey, lacrosse and soccer (the three sports that Warrior deals with) were not made for us.  No need to put it in writing. Read more of this post

Signal Boost: Barb Underhill, the woman who teaches the NHL how to skate

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Underhill working with the Tampa Bay Lightning. Photo from Tampa Bay Lightning.

** Cross posted on The Rabbit Hole.

The Pacific Standard recently wrote an article about NHL skating coach and consultant Barb Underhill.  I have been a hockey fan since I was six and I had never heard about this woman before.  After reading the article and watching a couple of YouTube clips I am inspired and want nothing more than for her to  add me to her list of pupils.  I don’t know how the world of sports has managed to keep Underhill such a well kept secret (perhaps its because NHL hockey remains a marginal sport in the US market?) but I think that proponents of women’s equality in sports should have her face plastered on every piece of marketing material possible!

Underhill, 51, is a former Canadian competitive pairs figure skater who skated in two Olympic Games and in 2009 was inducted into the World Figure Skating Hall of Fame.  After her competitive career ended she moved into television commentating but for the last eight years she has been back on the ice where she belongs teaching the best of the best how to be…even better!  While not a hockey player herself she has been surrounded by the game and really, it doesn’t matter whether or not she knows hockey because she knows skating.  As Underhill points out, figure skaters take private lessons for pretty much their entire skating careers but hockey is predominantly learned in a group setting and skating, oddly enough, skating is kind of learned incidentally.  So if you have done like I have and walked by the figure skaters practicing with your hockey bag on your shoulder shooting the toe picks a snide grin of superiority maybe next time it should be an inviting grin that will hopefully turn into a new friend and free skating coach! Read more of this post

Tensions: The Changing Demographics of Hockey


Harnarayan Singh. Screen capture from the Calgary Flames.

At the end of January the Calgary Flames became the first Canadian team to offer commentary in a language other than English or French.  Flames TV Punjabi will be hosted by none other than Hockey Night in Canada (HNIC) – Punjabi Edition’s Harnarayan Singh.  Punjabi is the third most spoken language in Canada and, despite the large Punjabi populations in Vancouver and Toronto, Calgary is the first to capitalize on this growing hockey crazed demographic.  Singh explains that the broadcasts facilitate inter-generational love of the game enabling immigrant Punjabi grandparents to watch the games with their grandchildren.  Many kudos have been passed around for this move by the Calgary Flames, which will hopefully encourage more teams to join suit – and rumour has it that the Toronto Maple Leafs are looking into a similar broadcast opportunity. Read more of this post

Letting boys be boys is what sent Orpik to the hospital

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Photo from The National Post.

Another cheap shot. Another player leaving the ice on a stretcher. Another apology.  Boys will be boys, I guess. So when will we hold boys and men to a higher standard of masculinity (or at least a different one)?  Or are we really okay with the status quo?

Tonight, Shawn Thornton threw an unwitting Brooks Orpik to the ice and then punched him in the face a few times before Orpik had to be stretchered off the ice.  Thornton received a match penalty and luckily Orpik will  be travelling back to Pittsburgh with the team. To read the NHL.com report of the incident is like reading the summary of a pre-season game.

Thornton and Orpik became involved after Bruins forward Brad Marchand, while on the ice, took a knee to the head from the Penguins forward James Neal.

Thornton was assessed a match penalty; he appeared to pull Orpik down and punch him while he was on the ice.

Orpik was taken to Massachusetts General Hospital, where he was alert and conscious, the Penguins announced.  Orpik returned from the hospital and will travel with the team back to Pittsburgh, coach Dan Bylsma said after the game.

It is so matter of fact; it reads as if this is an every game occurrence. I mean, I get it, it’s supposed to be an informative article but there is not one ounce of rage, concern, or fear in this article from the league. In my opinion, every time incidents like this happen the NHL should be very afraid.  Even CBS Sports writer, Chris Peters, writes “This infraction will definitely draw the attention of the league and could lead to a lengthy suspension for Thornton.  This is an outright attack on Orpik that had seemingly disastrous results.  There’s no place for this in the game or anywhere for that matter.”  At a minimum the NHL could have at least thrown in a token statement like “this incident will be taken very seriously by the Department of Player Safety”.  For a professional league that is under huge scrutiny with regards to player safety a little emotion would be welcome, even if fake.

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“A little frozen water, and hockey is possible”: Roland Barthes’ perspective on hockey


Photo by Courtney Szto.

Despite the fact that this blog is a site for critical reflection on the sport of hockey, every now and again it’s nice to raise the hammer and appreciate what is great about the sport.  This is one of those opportunities.   Roland Barthes (1915-1980), the famed French literary theorist and philosopher, took part in a Canadian documentary film titled Le Sport et les homes.  He was asked by Hubert Aquin, a Quebecois writer and producer for the National Film Board, to do the commentary for the film. After many different versions of the title the one that stuck was one of Barthes’ suggestions, Qu’est-ce que le sport?  or What is sport?  For this project, Barthes was shown stock footage of certain sporting events (bullfighting in Spain, car racing in America, the Tour de France, hockey in Canada, soccer in England) and was asked for his reflections.  The finished product was shown on June 1, 1961 on the television network of Radio Canada.

Barthes has a lyrical way of writing.  It is not exactly the most accessible piece of writing but he makes some fascinating observations about hockey, which I have included in full below.  Here is what hockey looked like through the eyes (and mind) of Roland Barthes (emphasis added):

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Book Review: “Journeyman” by Sean Pronger (2012)

journeymanHonest. That is about the best way I can sum up Journeyman: The many triumphs (and even more numerous defeats) of a guy who’s seen just about everything in the game of hockey.  I loved reading this book! If you have ever dreamt about playing in the NHL with the best of the best this is a phenomenal way to live vicariously (if not successfully) through Pronger’s experience.   I have read quite a few sports biographies but this book evoked a different set of emotions as compared to something like Andre Agassi’s Open (which was my previous favourite auto-bio) or Ken Dryden’s The Game.  It’s different reading about championships and triumphs than it is reading about the pure desire to compete with the best, and that is what Journeyman is about – the process, not the outcome.

The first thing you’ll notice is that Pronger has a wicked sense of self-deprecating humour, which makes for an easy read.  You also learn a million and one ways to refer to beer. He takes you on his highs and lows and he would probably be the first to tell you that the highs aren’t all that high.  From living in a farmhouse playing in the East Coast Hockey League (ECHL) to scoring one-timers with the Blue Jackets it is a sincere account of what it is like for two-way players.  There is no sugar-coating about what it is like to fight for a spot in the NHL but throughout it all there is an underlying respect and love for the game that drips from the pages.  I think every young player who has the dream of playing in the NHL should read this book because Journeyman represents the other side of the coin.  Behind all the glamour that is the ‘fastest game on earth’ lies truths that, unless you have done it yourself, are hard to fathom.  I had an idea of what it might be like for a journeyman but I was humbled through my reading.

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