Weekly Links: Cherry’s ratings plummet; KHL takes action against goonery; Headshot debate continues to rage

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.

Hockey Links

  • Interesting piece from Bruce Dowbiggen about a significant drop in Don Cherry’s ratings and how the new measurement instrument for TV viewership may be responsible. The old line was that Cherry drew better ratings than the hockey game itself. Was this a myth supported by inaccurate measuring equipment? Or has Cherry’s popularity and influence waned over the years? [Globe and Mail]
  • Dmitri Chesnokov reports that the KHL has taken action due to the most recent antics of Vityaz Chekhov, a team whose thuggery makes the Broad Street Bullies of the 1970s look tame. Canadian Jeremy Yablonski was suspended the rest of the season, while fellow Canuck Kip Brennan was banned for 15 games. The KHL is now planning to implement a rule to limit North American players who have not played 80-120 NHL games, theoretically weeding out fighters who are not skilled enough to play at an NHL level. [Puck Daddy]
  • Good read about former referee Kerry Fraser, who believes that the NHL needs to do more about headshots, that fighting should be banned, and that Brendan Shanahan needs to remain firm on suspensions to protect players. [Regina Leader-Post]
  • Red Fisher criticizes the Pittsburgh Penguins for allowing Kris Letang to return to a game after taking a hit to the head. [The Gazette]
  • ESPN’s headline about the retirement of Mike Grier decided that his race was a defining feature of this NHL veteran: “U.S.-born black player Grier retires from NHL”. Stay classy, ESPN. [The Slanch Report; h/t to Puck Daddy]
  • Ken Campbell examines the potential legal battle between the Toronto Maple Leafs and the NHL over whether the franchise could prevent a second NHL team from entering the Greater Toronto Area market. [The Hockey News]
  • Ryan Lambert pens a pro-fighting, anti-fighting-for-honour piece; an interesting editorial that is worth checking out. [Puck Daddy]
  • Interesting piece from about how Newsport Sports Management, an agency with many NHL clients, has an employee to handle various cultural and bureaucratic issues that its Russian clients and their families may face in North America. [New York Times]

General Sport Links

  • This week’s “must read”, in my opinion. Charles P. Pierce offers damning critique of the NBA lockout, asserting that it was not about economics – as the NBA spin doctors asserted – but the power of the league and its owners over the players and their union. Among the insightful quotes I could include here: “Lockouts are not devices of economic correction. That’s just a byproduct. Lockouts are attempts by management to exercise control over their workers. Period.” [Grantland]
  • The Canadian Forces and Prime Minister Stephen Harper featured prominently at the CFL’s championship game, the Grey Cup. For regular viewers of Canadian hockey this marriage of militarism and sport should not be a surprise. [Globe and Mail]
  • All-time great Paralympic athlete, Chantal Petitclerc, who won Canada’s award for outstanding athlete in 2008, leaves to coach in the UK because of lack of financial support in Canada. [Globe and Mail]
  • Great read about Basil D’Oliveira, a South African born cricketer who competed for England, and how he inadvertently sparked the international sports boycott against South Africa that helped bring down apartheid. [Game Theory]
  • Interesting article about the ways in which mass and new media have changed the prestige of athletes: “Our most famous athletes exist as ideas that we share and discuss. The most popular athletes in the world exist as memes.” [Grantland]
  • James Christie reports on the International Boxing Association’s attempts to mandate skirts as part of the uniform for female boxers. Boxing Canada is, thankfully, opposed to making skirts mandatory. [Globe and Mail]

Weekly Links: Canadian Forces Muzzle the Jets; Sidney Crosby Returns from Concussion; Frontier Justice Prevails in Buffalo

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.

Hockey Links

  • Well this is interesting: by settling on a military themed logo, the Winnipeg Jets signed a contract with the Department of National Defense stating that they cannot use the logo in a manner that reflects poorly upon the Canadian Forces or the Queen. While I can’t imagine a professional hockey team taking a strong anti-establishment political stance (although the Phoenix Suns provide a rare professional sport aberration in this regard) it is still interesting that the military can control the actions of a privately-owned team that is, in many ways, also seen as a public good. [Globe and Mail]
  • An interesting story, particularly in light of the interview we published yesterday: two women who formerly played youth hockey in Brampton win a Human Rights Tribunal case over their treatment as youth players. Both girls faced a range of discriminatory actions from teammates and coaches, and their mother was removed as a volunteer with the Brampton Youth Hockey Association after speaking out in defense of her daughters. [The Star]
  • Brendan Shanahan, the NHL’s rookie VP Player Safety, is pleased with players’ adaptation to his stricter enforcement of unsafe rule violations. Wait, is he saying that league enforcement is actually creating behaviour change? I thought the players sorted it out and self-policed and everything was great. No? [TSN]
  • To the surprise of exactly no-one who has an even cursory understanding of “the Code”, the first game between the Buffalo Sabres and Boston Bruins since Milan Lucic concussed Sabres’ goalie Ryan Miller featured fisticuffs galore. Harrison Mooney approves. [Puck Daddy]
  • David Shoalts reports on the Sabres/Bruins game, including some interesting tidbits and quotations about “honour” and “duty”, and the possibility that discipline is easing since NHL GMs criticized Brendan Shanahan. [Globe and Mail]
  • The Globe and Mail’s editor believes that Sidney Crosby’s return marks a turning point in awareness about concussions in hockey. I’ll believe it when I see it. [Globe and Mail]
  • Meanwhile, the two players who concussed Crosby will breathe a little easier now that he has returned. [The Star]
  • Bruce Dowbiggen with an interesting look at what Crosby means in terms of marketability for the NHL. [Globe and Mail]
  • The City of Markham, just northeast of Toronto, has plans to build a 19,500 seat arena not necessarily, but possibly, with a long-term eye to wooing an NHL team. It will be very interesting to watch this unfold for a variety of reasons, from local politics (are taxpayers expected to foot the bill?) to NHL politics (will the Maple Leafs enforce their monopoly on all professional hockey in the Greater Toronto Area?) to issues of (sub)urban economic and social development (or lack thereof). [TSN and The Hockey News]

General Sport Links

  • The Economist‘s sports blog explores – and debunks – the notion that anti-Christian sentiment is behind the widespread criticism of Denver Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow. [Game Theory]
  • This is a little old, but an interesting take on the media coverage of Tebow. Looking at how criticism of Tebow: the person misses critiquing the bigger picture of Tebow: the symbol of a messed-up corporate/politically influenced sports world. [E. Martin Nolan]
  • Also from The Economist sports blog, an interesting examination of labour issues in Australian Rules Football, whose popularity has mushroomed in the past few years. Unlike many North American sport leagues, in which athletes earn roughly 50% of revenue, AFL players earn just a quarter of revenue. [Game Theory]
  • The Conference Board of Canada has released a report examining the possibility of expansion in the Canadian Football League. The most likely municipal candidates: Ottawa, Quebec City, London, Moncton, Halifax, and Kitchener-Waterloo. [Conference Board of Canada]
  • Sepp Blatter, for all his faults, has agreed to remain in charge of FIFA for four more years. Really FIFA? [The Star]

Updates: Don Cherry Incident and the Hockey-Military Relationship

It has been less than a week since Don Cherry’s tirade against, amongst other targets, ex-fighters who have spoken out against the role of fisticuffs in hockey. But it has not taken long for this story to create considerable fallout for the Coach’s Corner star and for the CBC. Some highlights:

  • Within 24 hours of the broadcast, Chris Nilan and Stu Grimson, two of the three players labelled by Cherry as “pukes” and turncoats,” spoke out about the verbal attack. [Puck Daddy]
  • Cherry appeared on Coach’s Corner on Saturday, refusing to apologize for his comments and reaffirming his pro-fighting stance. The CBC bizarrely spoke out in support of both Cherry and player safety. [The Globe and Mail]
  • Yesterday, Montreal newspaper The Gazette reported that Grimson, Nilan and Jim Thomson are considering a lawsuit against Cherry. The story has since been updated to confirm that the players have consulted with a US law firm and are considering legal action. [The Gazette]
  • Thomson appeared today on The Globe and Mail for a live webchat about Cherry’s comments and fighting in hockey. [The Globe and Mail]

There are many, many more opinions circulating in the mainstream media and the blogosphere. For an overview of the entire sequence of events, beginning with Cherry’s rant on Thursday, I recommend checking out Stu Hackel‘s piece for SI.com.

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