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]

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Weekly Links: Evgeni Malkin’s journey to the NHL; The impact of HockeyFights.com; Critiquing MLSE’s military appreciation night

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!

Editor’s note: Not surprisingly, most of the hockey world is focused on the Winter Olympics currently underway in Sochi, Russia. However, there is still great hockey writing being done about non-Olympics issues. This edition of the Weekly Links is thus divided into two posts: today, we post non-Olympics links and on Sunday we will publish a Weekly Links post exclusively devoted to writing about the Olympics. We hope you enjoy both posts!

  • A really interesting article by J. Brady McCollough on Evgeni Malkin’s journey from Magnitogorsk, Russia to the Pittsburgh Penguins in the NHL. [Pittsburgh Post-Gazette]
  • An interesting and balanced look at HockeyFights.com, the website that catalogs and celebrates fighters in the NHL and beyond. [Grantland]
  • Is the NHL ready to announce an expansion franchise in Seattle following the Sochi Olympics? [Raw Charge]

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Weekly Links: Reaction to Shawn Thornton’s attack on Brooks Orpik; Big news in Canadian women’s hockey; Academic conferences on hockey research; 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!

  • The attack by the Boston Bruins’ Shawn Thornton on the Pittsburgh Penguins’ Brooks Orpik, which Courtney Szto discussed on this blog last weekend, has dominated the hockey headlines this week. Nicholas Cotsonika weighed in harshly against the act and the culture of violence in which it occurred. [Yahoo! Sports]
  • Jonathan Willis discussed the incident and argued that the “grey area” around self-policing in hockey places players in untenable situations: “As long as the NHL persists in its tight-rope walk between policing the game and allowing the players to dispense . . . “frontier justice” it’s only going to be a matter of time until something like this happens again.” [Cult of Hockey]
  • Jay Rosehill of the Philadelphia Flyers came to Thornton’s defense in this lengthy interview. If you want an insight into the culture of hockey fighting and the “Code” then give this a listed. [Sportsnet]

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Weekly Links: Tribute to the Akali Lake Braves; Canadian hockey participation rates; Growth of hockey in the US; Role of fighting in preseason; and more

Source: Flames Nation

Source: Flames Nation

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!

  • Alan Maki has a good piece on Canadian minor hockey participation rates, concussions, and the impact of bodychecking bans. [Globe and Mail]
  • Chris Peters charts the large growth in hockey participation in the United States since the early 2000s, including a state-by-state breakdown of participation numbers. Overall, participation has climbed by nearly 64,000 people since 2002-03. [United States of Hockey]
  • Joseph Vito Deluca looks at the positive impact that the KHL’s growth will have on the game of hockey. Some interesting insight into following professional soccer’s model and the possibility of a Champions League. [The Hockey Writers]
  • Ryan Lambert questions the fighting in NHL preseason games, and uses the novel  Blood Meridian by Cormac McCarthy as a reference. [Yahoo! Puck Daddy]

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Weekly Links: Sochi Olympics news; NHL stars on Russia’s anti-gay laws; Leetch and Burke join NHL’s Department of Player Safety

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!

  • Interesting read about kids’ hockey and skill development, as the Edmonton Minor Hockey Association is expanding access to ice time for children’s teams by mandating half-rink practices for teams. [Oilers Nation]
  • While problematic, the film Goon was a popular success amongst many hockey fans. Jay Baruchel is now working on writing a sequel and hopes to have it in production within a year. [Montreal Gazette]
  • Blogger Travis Yost, who has provided detailed reporting on the finances of the Ottawa Senators under the ownership of Eugene Melnyk, had his posts removed from the website Hockeybuzz – apparently as the result of the site being hacked. No responsibility has been proven, but Melynk is bizarrely and tangentially connected to the hack. [SB Nation]
  • The NHL has added two members to its Department of Player Safety: former NHL star Brian Leetch and former Philadelphia Flyers scout and You Can Play founder Patrick Burke. [Puck Daddy]

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Promoting Grassroots Participation while Building the Brand: To What Extent are NHL Teams Community Institutions?

Yesterday’s Globe and Mail ran an interesting article by James Mirtle about the Pittsburgh Penguins’ contributions to grassroots hockey in Western Pennsylvania. For the past four years, the Penguins, and in particular captain Sidney Crosby, have been extremely active in promoting hockey amongst Pittsburgh youth by providing free equipment and on-ice instruction. The initiative, while obviously having a major commercial motivation in terms of growing the Penguins’ business in the long-term, is an interesting example of how professional sport franchises can be more than simply entertainment spectacles and commercial enterprises, and actually invest socially in their local communities.

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Weekly Links: Derek Boogaard and prescription drug abuse; CBA and Phoenix Coyotes ownership updates

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

  • We all remember John Branch’s excellent reporting in The New York Times on the life and death of Derek Boogaard. Branch has written a follow-up story that provides shocking insight into Boogaard’s abuse of prescription drugs and the ease with which he secured prescriptions from multiple medical personnel. [New York Times]
  • Branch’s story drew lots of reaction from the hockey blogosphere. Justin Bourne had a solid response that called on the NHL to implement a system for the dispensation of prescription drugs. [Backhand Shelf]
  • And a couple other responses, from Harrison Mooney and Ellen Etchingham respectively. [Puck Daddy; Backhand Shelf]
  • RoseTintedVisor has a great interview with Adam Proteau of The Hockey News. Not only was it a great read, but also a reminder that I still need to review Proteau’s book Fighting the Good Fight on this blog. [Puck Buddys]
  • Courtney passed me this link, which is a little old but still a good read. The post begins by talking about the Women’s World Hockey Championship and the competitiveness of international women’s hockey, before exploring the gender politics behind different rules between the men’s and women’s version of the sport. [After Atalanta]
  • Bruce Dowbiggen weighs in on the CBC show While the Men Watch, a topic that Courtney has covered on this blog and which has drawn widespread reaction from bloggers and journalist. [Globe and Mail]
  • The Phoenix Coyotes’ ownership situation continues to drag out. The most recent news: the city council for Glendale, AZ voted to subsidize the team’s new owner $300 million over the next 20 years, paving the way for Greg Jamison to move ahead with the purchase of the franchise. [Puck Daddy]
  • Speaking of the business of hockey: with CBA negotiations on the horizon this summer, the NHL has temporarily set the salary cap at $70.3 million for 2012-13, way up from the $39 million cap in the first post-lockout season of 2005-06. The figure is based on revenues for the NHL of $3.3 billion in 2011-12. [SB Nation]
  • Sidney Crosby may soon sign a 10 year contract extension with the Pittsburgh Penguins, despite his concussion history. [Puck Daddy]
  • Mark Ascione reflects on the legacy of 1972 Summit Series star Paul Henderson, who is currently battling cancer, including whether Henderson merits induction into the Hockey Hall of Fame or the Order of Canada. [The Hockey Writers]
  • Finally, Vladimir Krutov – one of the first superstars to leave the Soviet Union to play in the NHL – passed away this week. Greg Wyshynski reflects on his legacy. [Puck Daddy]

General Sport Links

Hockey violence and the 2012 NHL playoffs: Why a moral panic won’t change the NHL’s cultural tolerance of violence

There has been no shortage of ink spilled in the past weeks about the surprising and upsetting levels of violence that have characterized the 2012 NHL playoffs thus far – including insightful posts from Hockey in Society’s E. Martin Nolan about psychosocial understandings of hockey violence and the fantastical nature of “hatred” between players.

NHL VP of Player Safety Brendan Shanahan has certainly been a busy man during these playoffs, handing down suspensions to eight players and fining two other players. The standard of discipline has varied wildly, with Shea Weber getting just a $2,500 fine for slamming Henrik Zetterberg’s head into the boards and Raffi Torres receiving a 25-game suspension for a leaping hit that sent Marian Hossa off the ice on a stretcher. The level of violence, which to most observers seems unusually high even for the emotionally-charged playoff season, has created a moral panic about the state of hockey and an unsurprising bevy of counterarguments from entrenched interests in the sport. At the same time, television ratings have soared in spite (or because) of the on-ice violence.

While I sympathize with the crusaders at the vanguard of the moral panic, my optimism about their ability to fundamentally alter NHL hockey is limited. As this post will explore, the NHL has a tightly controlled and insular culture that militates against outside interference. While some influential media members may hold some sway in the NHL boardrooms, it is hard not to see the league swatting away much of the outrage with minimal damage to its brand or popular integrity.

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These Brutal Playoffs: Is Hate the Right Word?

An Open Letter to NHL Players

Brad Marchand: “The more we play each other, the more we hate each other.”

Sidney Crosby: “I hate everyone on their team.”

Dear NHL Players,

Think about how people see you for a second. From the most skeptical perspective, you are grown men playing a game. You are millionaires with a union (which protects the players injuring others from suspension, as opposed to protecting the injured. That’s fucked up). You are mercenaries who fool the populace into thinking that you are playing for them, when really, why would you need that? Sure, you work hard, but you are more than well rewarded for that, and, need we remind you, you are working hard in pursuit of a game. I don’t subscribe to that view, although there is definitely validity to it, and it does describe certain players. Still, I prefer to think of you as masters of your craft, world class performers and artists, incredible entertainers that earn their millions, just like Brad Pitt or Adele.

But even if we see you in that more dignified light, you are still operating in a fantasy realm. What you are known for is not real. It ends after a horn, and can only happen within an area clearly limited by the boards. What you do is as real as theatre. But unlike (most) theatre, you are writing the script as you perform, and so in your performance you determine the nature of the fake reality you are creating. So if you want to treat the game as a realm in which brutal violence is permissible, then you can do that, and you have been. This is pathetic and depressing (I would want my money back if I paid to see that Pens-Flyers debacle), but it obviously works in the context in which you operate (and it sells, although how long that can last is open to debate. The NHL wants the playoffs to be like March Madness right? Does that sell based on the violence it permits?). On the other hand, If you want to approach your game as dignified but dedicated professionals who understand that the goal is to outplay and outcheck your opponent, acknowledging that there are certain rules of common decency that should be followed, while allowing that mistakes will be made, injuries will happen, but both should be purposely limited, then you can do that too. It’s up to you.

However, both of the above understandings of the game EXIST IN FANTASY, IN THE REALM OF PLAY. It is a very important fantasy to many people, and it is fine (I would argue awesome) to take it very seriously and get all the real emotional payoff, aesthetic pleasure and dramatic thrill out of it that you can. But even if you can feel real things and get real value from this fantasy, it is still a fantasy. As such, there is a certain level of distance you should maintain from it.

Therefore, you should not be using serious words like “hate” to describe your rivalries. Hate is a real thing, people get killed for what that word represents. You don’t hate the Flyers, Sidney Crosby, you want to beat them in a game. And Brad Marchand, just shut the hell up and play the game right. Because once you realize that what you do is essentially cut off from reality, but that it can, via injuries, affect reality, you might notice that it’s damn silly, and tragic, for someone to get seriously injured as the result of something happening in a game. And you might notice that this supposed “hatred” you have for one another impacts how you play on the ice, in that you are more likely to elbow a dude in the head if you’re thinking you “hate” him, as opposed to just competing against him, however passionately.

Because what happens in this fantasy realm can affect people in the real world, what happens there can really matter. Which means the attitude you approach the game with matters. You are setting an example, remember, of how to try hard while maintaining your dignity and that of the game, as well as of respecting others in the context of competition. Therefore, the words you use matter, because they define that attitude. I doubt it’s any coincidence that this word, hate, is popping up in dirty series. Both the word and the related actions on the ice are out of step with the true nature of the game. Because, while you might be able to construe the game as a venue for senseless and dangerous violence, given the pliable nature of a fantasy, or play, realm, it’s clearly ridiculous and silly to do so once you’ve realized that you’ve made the conscious choice to make the game that way.

Why would you want to do that? Do you also want a concussion, your for your good friend and teammate to suffer one? Or do you want earn you bragging rights because you were simply better than the other side?

This doesn’t apply to all players, but it does to far too many: show some dignity, play the game, and grow up. The Hockey Gods will know if you did this right or not.

You don’t hate each other. So stop acting like it. At best, you play hate each other, like children playing house. Children, too, have great minds for fantasy. It is contingent upon their parents to teach them the difference between that and real life. Need we do the same for you?

Yours Truly,

E Martin Nolan

Weekly Links: Player safety issues; Tim Thomas continues to attract criticism; Seattle to get an NHL franchise?

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

  • Please check out Not Part of the Game, a new blog that advocates for the removal of fighting from hockey. The most recent post offers up statements from NHL enforcers, past and present, about the impact of fighting. [Not Part of the Game]
  • One suggestion for NHL player safety that is increasingly gaining traction is the reintroduction of two line passes, which would reduce the speed of the game and thus potentially the likelihood of high-speed collisions. Pittsburgh Penguins coach Dan Bylsma is the latest to endorse this idea. [Puck Daddy]
  • Daniel Wegner has an insightful piece about Matt Cooke and the difficulty – but possibility – of changing one’s embodied style of play to eliminate dangerous hits. [Backhand Shelf]
  • Lots of buzz this week about whether Seattle – which unveiled plans this week for a new arena partially funded with public funds – will become the newest city to gain an NHL franchise, possibly through expansion but most likely through the relocation of the Phoenix Coyotes. [Globe and Mail]
  • The Minnesota Wild have suspended a prospect on its American Hockey League affiliate, the Houston Aeros, for using a gay slur on Twitter. [Puck Daddy]
  • Tim Thomas continues to attract criticism for refusing to discuss his controversial political beliefs. [Boston.com]
  • Sean Gordon argues that dirty play is “alive and well” in today’s NHL. [Globe and Mail]
  • ACTRA is claiming that Budweiser exploited the real-life performers/beer league hockey players who appeared in its famous Super Bowl commercial. Budweiser is claiming that signing the performers to union contracts would have “eliminated the surprise” of the commercial. [Puck Daddy]
  • National Geographic will be featuring Andrew Ference of the Boston Bruins in a 10-part  feature on his environmental activism. [Backhand Shelf]
  • Washington Capitals owner Ted Leonsis criticizes NBC’s coverage of NHL games. [Ted's  Take]

General Sport Links

  • Great post from Nathan Kalman-Lamb reflecting on his experiences as a striking worker at York University and the labour struggle of NBA players this past Fall. [Nathan Kalman-Lamb]
  • Courtney Szto weighs in on the announcement that Abbotsford, BC will be the latest city to feature a Lingerie Football League team. [The Rabbit Hole]
  • Human Rights Watch, a global lobbying group, is asking the International Olympic Committee to consider disallowing Saudi Arabia from competing in the Olympics due to the country’s complete lack of support for women’s sport. [Globe and Mail]