Mark Popovic, KHL player and former NHLer, on hockey culture and labour vs. passion in a pro career

This is one in a series of posts in which I will report back from The Hockey Conference that I attended in London, ON from June 18-20, 2014. As I did not digitally record any of the proceedings, any direct quotations may contain slight inaccuracies – however, I have endeavored to capture the essence of the commentary and to reproduce it as accurately as possible.

The first keynote of the conference featured Mark Popovic, a former NHL player who played 81 games over five seasons with the Anaheim Ducks and Atlanta Thrashers, and current player with Croatian club Zagreb Medvescak of the KHL. For reference, you can view his career stats here.

The keynote took a unique form, as conference organizer and Western University sport historian Dr. Don Morrow conducted a one-on-one interview in the vein of the popular Inside the Actor’s Studio television program. Popovic was gracious and forthcoming with his answers, although, as will be discussed, there was a contradiction in his views on the labour process in hockey that was not adequately resolved during the session. Nonetheless, Popovic provided great insight into the life of a professional hockey player and some of the struggles, challenges and rewards of this career. After the jump, I review three of the interesting themes that emerged from this session: hockey as labour, players as commodities, and the expression of passion and love for the sport. I conclude by briefly attempting to explore the apparent contradictions between the first two topics and the latter one. Read more of this post

Weekly Links: Debunking the value of enforcers; PK Subban polarizes Gen X and Gen Y; Blackhawks fans mobilize vs. sexism; and more

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!

  • Good read by Mike Leonard debunking the notion that enforcers help deter violence against other players, with an analysis of Shawn Thornton’s time with the Boston Bruins. [Stanley Cup of Chowder]
  • Avi Goldberg interprets PK Subban’s relationship with Montreal Canadiens’ management and fans through the frame of generational differences. A very interesting read. [The Barnstormer]
  • Chicago Blackhawks fans mobilized against the team’s sexism during its intermission activities, and the team responded by removing the offending features. [Puck Daddy]
  • Adam Proteau reports that Canadian entrepreneur Arlene Dickinson has joined the board of the Canadian Women’s Hockey League, which is good news for the league. [The Hockey News]

Read more of this post

Weekly Links: PK Subban on the cost of playing hockey; Ex-NHLer John Rohloff suing NHL; Sabres’ owner to buy NFL’s Bills? And more

 

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!

 

  • As his contract negotiations with Canadiens continue, P.K. Subban shares his insights on the state of the game, including the rising cost for parents. [National Post]
  • The Ontario Government is looking into potentially examining the working conditions of OHL players. [TSN]
  • Buffalo Sabres’ owner Terry Pegula is in the bidding to purchase the NFL’s Buffalo Bills, who’s owner Ralph Wilson passed away earlier this year. Andy Boron discusses the bid and its potential impact on the Sabres. [Die by the Blade]
  • John Rohloff, a veteran of 150 games for the Boston Bruins in the 1990s, is the latest to launch a lawsuit against the NHL for head trauma suffered during his career. [Puck Daddy]
  • The Hockey News looks back through its archives, and uncovers this quote from Bob Clarke about the arrival of Russian players in the NHL “I’ve never been in favor of the Soviets playing in the National Hockey League. . . .I have a lot of reasons in my own mind, one of which is probably prejudice.” [The Hockey News]
  • Adam Gretz looks back at the history of the Quebec Nordiques and their impact on the Colorado Avalanche, which they became in 1995. [SB Nation]
  • Speaking of Quebec, a new NHL-style arena is nearing completion even though the NHL has shown no inclination to expand to the city. [The Hockey News]
  • Greg Wyshynski on how the hiring of Kyle Dubas by the Toronto Maple Leafs represents a crack in the NHL’s Old Boy’s Club culture. [Puck Daddy]
  • Via SB Nation, Ann Frazier has put together a great video showing the location of NHL franchises from 1917 to the present:

Weekly Links: Backlash to Sharks’ “ice girl” decision; Imagining an expanded World Cup of Hockey; Thorold’s offensive First Nations logo

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!

  • The San Jose Sharks plan to introduce “ice girls” next season, prompting many Sharks fans to express their anger at this decision – some have threatened to cancel their season tickets. [SI.com]
  • CTGray has a frustrated fans’ take on the sexism of the Sharks’ decision. [Fear the Fin]
  • Finally, Ryan Kennedy wrote an editorial about the lack of women in hockey outside of “ice girl”/cheerleader roles. [The Hockey News]
  • On the topic of sexism in hockey, if you missed Courtney Szto’s critique this week of Warrior Hockey’s marketing campaign please give it a read. [Hockey in Society]
  • Greg Wyshynski examines the offensive logo of the junior team the Thorold (ON) Blackhawks, which features a cartoon caricature of a First Nations man playing hockey. A movement is underway to have the logo changed and it appears likely to succeed. [Puck Daddy]
  • An interesting look at the history of skating rinks on Washington DC’s iconic Reflecting Pool, and an argument that it should be used as part of the Winter Classic festivities when the Capitals host the Chicago Blackhawks in January. [Puck Buddys]

Read more of this post

Weekly Links: NHL Draft reaction; Mike Fisher’s support for Hobby Lobby; Is the KHL a no longer a threat to the NHL?

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!

  • Great read on the Skillz Black Aces, a Toronto boy’s team mostly composed of black youth, which had three of its former players drafted in the 2014 NHL Entry Draft. [Color of Hockey]
  • Speaking of the NHL Draft, Steve Dangle interviewed hockey agents Aaron Schwartz and Darryl Wolski about their work, young players, and the Draft. [Leafs Nation]
  • Chris Johnston argues that, in light of signings of KHL players like Leo Komorov by NHL teams and the suspension of some teams, the KHL is not a threat to the NHL as a league/business. [Sportsnet]
  • The amount of the lawsuit brought by Steve Moore against Todd Bertuzzi and the Vancouver Canucks, stemming from Bertuzzi’s 2004 attack on Moore, has increased based on expectations of future earnings. [Puck Daddy]
  • Mike Fisher tweeted his support of Hobby Lobby’s recent US Supreme Court victory. While his stance is controversial, Jason Kay argues that hockey fans should be supportive of his right to express his political views in a public forum. [The Hockey News]
  • An interview with Sean Ramjagsingh, one of the producers for EA Sports’ NHL 15, about the upcoming video game, which will be released in September. [Last Word on Sports]
  • With rumours swirling about NHL expansion to Seattle, and now Wayne Gretzky’s involvement in a potential ownership group, Gretzky’s agent has denied that he will be involved. [The Score]

Weekly Links: Joshua Ho-Sang and not fitting into hockey’s culture; Ottawa Gee Gees suspended for alleged “sexual misconduct”; Hockey community support for LGBTQ equality; and more

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!

  • Steve Simmons talks to prospect Joshua Ho-Sang who believes his skill and talent may be overlooked because of the color of his skin. A really interesting story. [Toronto Sun]
  • And here is Neate Sager’s take on the Simmons interview with Ho-Sang. [Buzzing the Net]
  • Clare Austin examines how prior perception impacts how people understand events and relationships, with a focus on the trade of Martin St. Louis for Ryan Callahan between the Tampa Bay Lightning and the New York Rangers. Probably the only time you will see the NHL trade deadline linked with a discussion of how dominant racial perceptions in the early 1800s facilitated the creation of unfair and racist policies and structures in the US. So, in other words, well worth a read. [Puckology]
  • The University of Ottawa, a member of the CIS, has suspended its Gee Gees men’s hockey team for the 2014-15 season and fired its head coach. The move comes “after an internal investigation of allegations of drinking and sexual misconduct by some players during a trip to Thunder Bay in February.” [Sportsnet]

Read more of this post

On “NHL Bloodlines” and Social and Cultural Capital: Why Do NHL Fathers Produce NHL Sons?

In its preview of the 2014 NHL Entry Draft, The Hockey News features a Matt Larkin article entitled “Rising Son,” the subtitle of which reads: “Former NHLers’ sons, other relatives are on the radar as top prospects.” Larkin’s piece highlights no fewer than 22 draft eligible players with fathers, uncles, or brothers who used to or currently play in the NHL, including the sons of notable ex-NHLers such as Pierre Turgeon, Claude Lemieux, Al MacInnis, and Glen Wesley. Furthermore, three sons of former NHL regulars are expected to be drafted in the top 10: Sam Reinhart (son of Paul Reinhart and brother of NHL draftees Max and Griffin), Kasperi Kapanen (son of Sami Kapanen), and William Nylander (son of Michael Nylander).

Meanwhile, there are numerous current and past NHLers whose fathers enjoyed successful careers. The Howe family may be the most famous of these, with father Gordie playing along his sons Marty and Mark for the New England/Hartford Whalers of the World Hockey Association in the 1970s. Bobby and Brett Hull are another well-known father/son duo. Current NHLers whose fathers also played in the league include Paul Stastny (son of Peter), Nick Foligno (son of Mike), Brandon Sutter (son of Brent), Alexander Steen (son of Thomas), and Jarred Tinordi (son of Mark). And more players of famous lineage may never become regulars in the NHL, despite their hockey pedigree: Ray Bourque and Patrick Roy, for example, both have sons toiling in the KHL and AHL respectively.

The intergenerational success of these hockey families is often explained in popular discourse as a product of genetics or “bloodlines.” Read more of this post