Hockey Research at the 2014 “Putting it on Ice” Conference

Starting tomorrow in London, ON, hockey researchers and academics will gather at Western University for the fourth Putting it on Ice Conference. This conference, which was last held in Halifax, NS in 2012, is exclusively focused on scholarship related to hockey, whether that be sociological, political, historical, media, literary or economic research. Not surprisingly, there are lots and lots of fascinating papers being presented this year that align with the interests and focus of this blog – and I am happy to say that I will be in attendance to hear them all. While I don’t have space to summarize every paper that will be on the program, after the jump I have copied and pasted the titles and abstracts of just some of the papers I am particularly interested in – but I am sure that many other papers will also catch my interest and stimulate my intellect! You can check out the full program here and the abstracts here.

Full disclosure: I am co-presenting a paper, with Tobias Stark from Linnaeus University in Sweden, which for the sake of interest I am including in the selection of abstracts below.

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Weekly Links: Reactions to Twitter racism against Joel Ward; Examining cultures of hitting and violence in hockey; Where in the world were NHL players born?

Where NHL players were born.

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.

Editor’s Note: Apologies for the lack of Weekly Links over the past month. It has been a very busy time personally, and I have not kept up with my posting. This Weekly Links post therefore contains some of the best reading from the past three weeks. I hope to be more diligent in my posting over the next few months!

Hockey Links

  • This is very cool: A map showing where every NHL player was born. Hover over the city and it lists the players who were born there. Am I the only one who finds the globalization of hockey a fascinating, fascinating topic? [view the map; created by @theycallmemorty; via Backhand Shelf]
  • Lots of reaction to the racist insults hurled at the Washington Capitals’ Joel Ward by Twitter users, from Harrison Mooney, Chris Peters, and Brian Floyd respectively. [Puck Daddy; United States of Hockey; SB Nation]
  • Meanwhile, Greg Ezell reflects on belonging to a Boston Bruins fan-base that is now being characterized based upon the actions of a few. [Days of Y'Orr]
  • The always thoughtful Ken Dryden discusses three hits from different eras in order to illustrate changes in hockey culture and the role of the NHL in enforcing discipline. [Globe and Mail; h/t to Luke for the link]
  • Ellen Etchingham also had a great take on the culture of hitting in the NHL. [Backhand Shelf]
  • Paul Busch with an excellent historical overview of changes in the NHL, particularly in the 1970s, which he argues established the “culture of violence” in which many of today’s NHL decision-makers (coaches, GMs, etc.) were socialized. [It's Not Part of the Game]
  • Adam Proteau with an optimistic look at the likelihood of a gay hockey player coming out in the NHL and a discussion of the You Can Play project. [The Hockey News]
  • Interesting read about the Los Angeles Kings’ attempts to market the hockey team and maintain relevance in an entertainment-saturated city. [Globe and Mail]
  • After the 2012 Women’s World Hockey Championship, in which Switzerland captured the Bronze Medal, is international women’s hockey moving closer to parity? And what steps are being taken to develop the game globally? [Globe and Mail]
  • Interesting news from the KHL. A blog post by the wife Kevin Dallman, a Canadian superstar on Barys Astana in Kazakhstan, has led to the family being kicked out of the country. Apparently the Kazakh government found the post too critical of alleged corruption in Kazakhstan. [Puck Daddy]

Weekly Links: Mainstream Media and Bloggers Tackle Mental Illness; Winter Classic Details; Ralph Nader Calls for NHL Fighting Ban

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

  • February 8 was Let’s Talk Day, an event organized to raise awareness and provide support for sufferers of mental illness. Kent Basky at Nucks Misconduct had a moving and personal post about about the issue. [Nucks Misconduct]
  • And Michael Landsberg, host of TSN’s show Off the Record, also spoke about his own battles with depression. [TSN]
  • If you read Ted Nolan’s post this week, you already know that although the next Winter Classic will be held in Ann Arbor, at Michigan University’s “Big House,” Detroit will host a variety of events at Comerica Park. Puck Daddy has the breakdown of these events, which include NCAA, OHL, and high school games. [Puck Daddy]
  • Meanwhile, the NHL is aiming to break an attendance record at the Big House: at least 115,000 tickets will be available for the game between the Detroit Red Wings and Toronto Maple Leafs. [Puck Daddy]
  • An interesting article about the ways in which Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper has used hockey as part of his political PR. [The Guardian]
  • Chris Lund discusses the fan movement to return an NHL team to Quebec City. Hard to imagine Gary Bettman being keen on reversing two 1990s-era franchise relocations. [Backhand Shelf]
  • Speaking of relocated franchises… A report suggests that Winnipeg’s love affair with the Jets will lower support for other cultural or artistic institutions in the city, including the CFL’s Blue Bombers. [Globe and Mail]
  • Boston Bruins players are not happy about it, but it appears that the NHL’s tougher stance on illegal plays has forced them to change their style of play. [SB Nation]
  • Tim Thomas continues to make public political statements – this time via his Facebook page – and then refuse to discuss them with the media. [Backhand Shelf]
  • Ken Campbell weighs in on this latest controversy, arguing that if Thomas passionately believes in his political stance then “he probably shouldn’t be afraid to discuss his views when someone puts a microphone into his face and asks for an explanation.” [The Hockey News]
  • Ralph Nader’s League of Fans, an organization that lobbies for changes in professional sport, published an open letter to NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman calling for a ban on fighting. [League of Fans]
  • While I agree with Nader philosophically, Daniel Wegner raises good points about some problematic aspects of the letter – in particular, its conflation of fighting and concussions. [Backhand Shelf]
  • Minnesota, AKA The State of Hockey, is taking tough action on headshots in an effort to increase player safety at the high school level. [KARE 11]
  • 24 Women’s and 32 Men’s national teams have applied for qualification to the 2014 Winter Olympics. The list includes the usual suspects, as well as lesser-known hockey nations such as Spain, South Korea, and Hungary. [Puck Worlds]
  • I strongly believe that there is a fascinating research opportunity to trace how, as part of flows of globalization, hockey has spread to and taken root in different parts of the world. This article looks at some of the reasons behind the sport’s recent growth in the United Arab Emirates. []

General Sport Links

  • Hockey in Society blogger Courtney Szto looks at how sports fandom is a masculine realm, and the resultant social expectations placed upon female fans. [The Rabbit Hole]

Weekly Links: Overcoming Social Expectations of non-Aggression in Women’s Hockey; NCAA and KHL Look to Grow Their Global Economic Footprints; Why is NHL Fighting on the Decline?

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

  • Easily the best thing I’ve read this week: a first person (dare I say ethnographic?) account of the socially engrained expectations of femininity that female hockey players must overcome in order to play the game more aggressively, more assertively, and more pleasurably. Definitely give this a read. Hell, give the whole blog a read because everything I’ve looked at so far is fantastic. [A Theory of Ice; h/t to @dagmar27 for the link]
  • The number of NHL fights are down this season. A couple bloggers this week delved into some of the reasons behind this decline. First, Greg Wyshynski suggests that factors such as the shifting role of the enforcer, the smaller number of “dance partners” prepared to drop the gloves, the reduction of downtime between stoppages in play, Brendan Shanahan’s stricter enforcement of supplemental discipline, and the growing awareness about concussions and brain injury. [Puck Daddy]
  • Next up, Justin Bourne suggests that a rise in the quality of play and a reduction in fighting in the minor and junior hockey leagues has meant that many players coming through those systems have not had to fight their whole careers. In other words, the AHL is more like the NHL and less like Slap Shot, in that skilled players likely do not fight in the same way they were pressured to a decade or more ago. [Backhand Shelf]
  • A Globe and Mail editorial takes a very strong stance against fighting, in light of Colton Orr’s demotion from the NHL: “It is morally bankrupt to ask Colton Orr ever to fight again. After 99 NHL fights, he is at heightened risk of lifelong brain damage.” [Globe and Mail]
  • Ken Campbell with an excellent look at the “illogical pro-fighting stance” of Brian Burke. [The Hockey News; h/t to Hockey in Society reader Peter for the link]
  • It appears that the 2013 Winter Classic may be hosted at Michigan University’s 100,000+ capacity football stadium, after Yahoo! Sports broke the story that the NHL and the university have been in advanced discussions about this possibility. [Puck Daddy]
  • Speaking of unconventional hockey venues, plans are afoot to potentially host a hockey game on a US Navy aircraft carrier. That is mind-boggling in so many ways. This reminds me that I really need to get revisit to my plans to explore the relationship between hockey and militarism. These posts are still very much in the cards, they’ve just been pushed to the backburner the past few months. [SB Nation]
  • Interesting interview with the NCAA’s Executive Director of College Hockey, Paul Kelly. The NCAA is trying to increase its appeal as an alternative to junior hockey, although inter-league politics complicate the process. The NCAA is also seeking to grow its brand in Canada through increased television exposure and even the possibility of a Frozen Four (the NCAA’s championship tournament] being hosted in Toronto. [Arctic Ice Hockey]
  • If you look past some of the stereotypes about Russia and the presentation of sensational examples of how business can be conducted in the country, this article has some fascinating insight into the politics, economics, and ambition of the Kontinental Hockey League – including the fact that it envisages by 2015 itself as a 60-team league spread out across Europe and Asia. [The Star]
  • US national team superstar Angela Ruggiero has retired from hockey and will focus on her work with the International Olympic Committee Athlete’s Commission, in which role she will hopefully be able to increase the IOC’s support for women’s hockey. [Women's International Ice Hockey]
  • The New Jersey Devils are aggressively and innovatively using new media to grow the team’s popularity. Interesting look at one of the many ways in which new media is changing the landscape of professional sports. [Sports Business Journal, via Puck Daddy]
  • The NHL Player’s Association rejected the NHL’s plan for realignment. Ken Campbell explains how this is a political tactic in advance of upcoming labour negotiations between the union and the league. [The Hockey News]
  • Cam Charron, who like me is also a contributor at Nucks Misconduct, has a humorous and insightful breakdown of Don Cherry’s statements on last week’s Coach’s Corner. [Legion of Blog]
  • James Mirtle with an interesting look at the rise of Americans in the NHL, and the reasons behind this increase. [Globe and Mail]
  • Future bidders on the World Junior Championships will require “deep pockets, big arenas” as the tournament’s profit-making potential continues to rise. [CBC Sports]
  • Daniel Wegner looks at how the Boston Bruins and Vancouver Canucks are making the controversy around Brad Marchand’s suspension worse by waging an ongoing war of words about it. [Backhand Shelf]

Weekly Links: World Juniors Turn Massive Profits, Players Play for Free; More Discussion About Hockey Concussions

Editor’s Note: Weekly Links, which usually publish on Friday, are late due to the holiday weekend. We should be back to the regular schedule this week.

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

  • As the World Junior Hockey Championships gets underway in Alberta, Roy MacGregor has an interesting read about the annual tournament. One of the few articles I’ve seen that mention, if not in much detail, the fact that the tournament generates huge revenues for a variety of organizations, businesses, and individuals – all on the back of free teenage labour. [Globe and Mail]
  • Interesting mix of politics and hockey, as the US Congress calls on the International Ice Hockey Federation to pull the 2014 World Championships from Belarus. This hockey event was specifically highlighted as part of broader legislation aimed at punishing Belarus for violent repression of political protestors. [AFP, h/t to @Sean_Leahy for the link]
  • If you have not seen it yet, Ken Dryden has an excellent piece about concussions and the need for proactive action. [Grantland]
  • Good video blog from CBC announcer Jim Hughson about concussions: “There’s still too much pretending that concussions aren’t really what they are. What we do know is that there’s no mild, no severe concussion, no concussion-like symptoms – it’s either a concussion or it isn’t. Everyone at every level of hockey accepting that admission might be a great next step.” [CBC Sports; via Canadian Sports Fan]
  • Steve Lepore praises an episode of the VERSUS show NHL Live, which focused on concussions, for its restraint and its acknowledgement of different perspectives. [Puck the Media]
  • Much more reaction to the Montreal Canadiens hiring of Randy Cunneyworth, who does not speak French. [Yahoo! Sports; SB Nation; Globe and Mail]
  • Meanwhile, some Quebec social movement groups are planning to protest against the Canadiens outside the Bell Centre at an upcoming game. [Puck Daddy]
  • Eric Duhatschek explores why Quebec no longer produces a large number of NHL-caliber goaltenders. [Globe and Mail]
  • Interesting article about hockey in Israel, where there is only one hockey rink in the entire country and the sport interacts with religion and ethnicity in unexpected ways. [Wall Street Journal]
  • Finally, Los Angeles Kings defenseman Willie Mitchell turns environmentalist as his favourite fishing habitat is threatened by a proposed hydroelectric project. [Globe and Mail]

General Sport Links

  • The NFL has improved its concussion protocol by having an independent trainer, rather than a team-employed medical professional, on the sidelines to check out suspected concussions. [Globe and Mail]

Weekly Links: Patrick Burke’s Fight Against Homophobia; Georges Laraque and Dick Pound on PEDs in 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.

Hockey Links

  • Don Cherry was offered an honourary degree from Royal Military College, but declined the offer after at least one faculty member severely criticized the offer. Unfortunately I was on the road and very busy when this story broke, so could not get into the matter in any depth, but it’s an interesting topic – especially around issues of free speech and the politics of honourary degrees. [Globe and Mail]
  • Lots of interesting recent commentary about the potential (likely?) performance-enhancing drug (PED) problem in the NHL. Puck Daddy reviewed excerpts from the autobiography of ex-NHLer Georges Laraque, in which he calls out the NHL and NHL Player’s Association for not inadequate testing for PEDs. [Puck Daddy]
  • Meanwhile, Dick Pound, the former head of the World Anti-Doping Agency who has previously criticized the NHL’s drug testing policies, weighed in on the issue. [Globe and Mail]
  • If you missed our story about efforts to erode homophobia in hockey (in which these two stories were quoted and linked), do check out the two fantastic pieces written about the activism of Patrick Burke, the son of Maple Leafs GM Brian and brother of the late Brendan Burke. [Puck Buddys and Vancouver Sun]
  • The details about the NHL’s overseas television deal. I feel that some media scholar has a thesis-in-waiting examining the NHL’s efforts to grow its brand globally. This broadcast deal is a major part of these efforts. [Globe and Mail]
  • The Ontario Hockey League takes a hard line on dangerous hits, serving up a 20-game suspension for an elbow to the head. Are such suspensions enough to curb destructive violence in hockey? [The Star]

General Sport Links

  • A damning critique of NCAA universities that prioritize “protecting the brand” over dealing with unethical or immoral behaviour in their sport programs. Upsetting stuff not just about Penn State’s attempt to sweep under the rug a sexual abuse scandal, which has now claimed the jobs of the football team’s head coach and the university’s president, but the misplaced priorities of NCAA universities. [CSN Bay Area]
  • A UK study finds that women’s sport attracts only 0.5% of all sport sponsorship, versus 61.1% for men’s sport (mixed sport accounts for the remainder). That means men’s sport receives 122 times more funding that women’s – for the visual thinkers, imagine lining up the Empire State Building (1454 feet) next to a basketball hoop (roughly 12-13 feet, to the top of the backboard) and that gives you a sense of the disparity in dollar terms. [The Guardian; h/t to Hockey in Society reader Malinda for the link]
  • An Australian field hockey player speaks about becoming the third Australian male athlete to come out of the closet. Lots of interesting stuff in this article about the masculine Australian sport culture and how straying from the heterosexual norm carries significant risks. [Sydney Morning Herald; h/t to reader Lori for the link]
  • Hockey in Society contributor Courtney Szto examines why women are so significantly underrepresented in coaching positions. [The Rabbit Hole]
  • Good piece about the payment of athletes in NCAA sport, and the tensions between the amateur ideal in sport and the mythology surrounding the American Dream. [Grantland]
  • The perspective of a CIS athlete at University of Toronto about the psychology of athletes returning early from or playing through injury. [The Varsity]

Weekly Links: Homophobia and Bullying; Grey Areas in Hockey Violence; Mandatory Visors?

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

Andrew Gadsby of Puck Buddies writes an op-ed about homophobia and bullying, in light of the tragic suicide of Jamie Hubley – an openly gay Ottawa teenager who was bullied, in part, because he chose to figure skate instead of playing hockey. A must read. RIP Jamie. [Globe and Mail]

Justin Bourne urges hockey to “accept the gray area” of hockey violence, and makes some excellent points about the ways in which sports are socially constructed: “Sports are a fairly arbitrary collections of rules. . . . It is debatable whether a rule has any fundamental value other than the value people give it. Hockey is not static and fixed: we can add and remove things from it and the only thing that really determines whether it is still ‘hockey’ is our own judgement.” [Backhand Shelf]

Despite Chris Pronger suffering a brutal eye injury on Wednesday, some members of the Philadelphia Flyers refuse to wear a visor. The phrases “too macho to wear a visor” and “longstanding stereotypes about toughness that consider visors an effete accessory” (the  latter a quotation from the New York Times) speak volumes about the culture of hockey. [Puck Daddy]

Travis Hughes believes that the NHL must impose mandatory visors, because players will never accept this condition voluntarily. [SB Nation]

A legal perspective on mandating visors – in short, it can’t be done without the buy-in of the NHL Player’s Association. [Offside: A Sports Law Blog; h/t to Spector's Hockey for the link]

Bruce Arthur argues that, love him or hate him, “Don Cherry will be missed” whenever he leaves the airwaves. Despite the fact that Hockey in Society’s output will likely be cut in half without Cherry, I can’t say I agree with Arthur. [National Post]

Just in case you think Cherry has lost his influence, Bruce Dowbiggen reminds us of his tremendous in and on the sport. [Globe and Mail]

An interesting examination of the “NHL feeder chain” – that is, where NHL players play before making the big leagues. The CHL and NCAA are first and second, followed by European professional leagues. [Puck Worlds]

This is a few years old, but Stu Hackel wrote a great piece about why the instigator rule should remain in hockey. Particularly interesting insights about the Philadelphia Flyers Stanley Cup winning teams of the 1970s, and how the Broad Street Bullies used strategic violence against opponents’ star players in order to win games. [Slap Shot]

The Manitoba Junior Hockey League suspends 14 players and the head and assistant coaches of the Neepawa Natives for hazing, and the RCMP is investigating the incident. Sadly, hazing is very common in minor hockey and strong regulation is very much needed to stamp it out. As for the name “Neepawa Natives”… how on earth has that not been changed? [CTV Winnipeg]

As details about the incident leak out, a well-argued call for police action on hazing incidents. [Buzzing the Net]

Ken Campbell wants Hockey Canada’s residency rules to change, so that children can more easily play hockey in locations other than their home area. Seriously problematic in my opinion, as it gives carte blanche to over-zealous hockey parents to frequently uproot their children in pursuit of a career in professional hockey. [The Hockey News]

More arena politics: Edmonton City Council votes in favour of the Oilers’ downtown arena proposal, because the politicans “believe that other businesses will sprout up quickly in the area around the arena”. [SB Nation]

Finally, the NHL continues its efforts to emulate the NBA’s globalization strategies by signing a major European TV deal. [SB Nation]