Weekly Links: Vladimir Putin and the politics of the KHL; A review of Derek Boogaard biography; Jack Johnson’s bankruptcy; 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!.

  • If you missed it, check out Sunil Agnihotri’s take on the rise and demise of Cap Geek. [Hockey in Society]
  • I wrote a review of John Branch’s new book, Boy on Ice: The Life and Death of Derek Boogaard for The All Rounder. The book builds on the fantastic reporting Branch did for his insightful series of 2011 reports on Boogaard’s life and passing. [The All Rounder]
  • A really interesting look at the KHL and Vladimir Putin’s political relationship with hockey, the power of which is jeopardized by Russia’s current economic crisis. [Vice Sports]
  • A detailed look at the sad and cautionary story of NHL star Jack Johnson, who declared bankruptcy after his parents, who controlled his finances, blew through his millions in career earnings. [Deadspin]

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Weekly Links: Sexism in hockey media and fan groups; NHL expansion news and rumours; Ovechkin supports separatists in Ukraine?; 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!

  • Alexander Ovechkin, who has a friendly relationship with Vladimir Putin, appears to be using social media to promote Russian propaganda and show his support the separatists in Ukraine. [Russian Machine Never Breaks]
  • Jen Mac Rammos calls out hockey media for being a sexist and exclusionary boys’ club. A very important piece and a definite must-read. [Fear the Fin]
  • Two University of Ottawa hockey players have been charged with sexual assault, following an incident in February that led to the suspension of the entire team. This article situates the incident in a broader culture of sexual entitlement and rape that pervades many sporting and university environments. [The Star]
  • An interview with Mike Burse, a hockey writer who is working to bring the advanced stats movement to women’s hockey and the CWHL. [Hockey Wilderness]

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Olympic Dissonance

Games Against a Messy Background

from thestar.com

Sport lends itself to a condition of moral simplicity. A major reason we turn to sport is for the undeniable certainty of its win/loss, rule-bound dynamic. At no time does sport’s artificial certainty stand out more than it does at the Olympics, because at no other time does it clash more with the deviousness of the world at large. Like the World Cup, the Olympics produces the same tension each time: between the simplified morality of sport itself and the problematic morality of the forces that control sport, or of the nations represented.

Putin’s games provide a case in point of that. Read more of this post

Roundtable: Issues and Controveries at the Sochi Olympics

Roundtables are an occasional feature on Hockey in Society. Roundtables will present brief commentaries from Hockey in Society contributors on pressing or timely issues within hockey and its culture, with the aim of presenting a diverse range of critical viewpoints on the topic under discussion.

The Olympic Games are, despite the Olympic Movement’s laughable claims about the separation of sport and politics, highly political events. Sometimes this politicization is obvious (e.g. Berlin, 1936; Mexico City, 1968; Moscow, 1980; Los Angeles, 1984; etc.) and other times it is more subtle – but every Olympics is hosted, supported, and contested by various actors seeking diverse political aims.

This year’s Winter Olympics, currently ongoing in Sochi, Russia, is one of the more overtly politicized Games in recent memory. Among the controversial political issues surrounding these Games are Russia’s introduction of repressive anti-gay laws, the massive hosting costs of over $50 billion dollars and the related allegations of corruption, the security concerns over terrorist attacks, President Vladimir Putin’s use of the Games as an empire-building exercise, the culling of stray dogs from Sochi streets, and the exploitation of labour in the construction of venues. And this does not even touch upon the sports themselves, supposedly the raison d’être for the Olympic Games!

Given the many complex and controversial sociopolitical issues surrounding the Sochi Games – and given the prominence of hockey as a marquee event at the Winter Olympics, as well as a form of soft diplomacy by Putin’s regime – it is timely for Hockey in Society contributors to weigh in on a variety of hockey- and sport-related topics. After the jump, five contributors share their views on a diversity of topics: LGBTQ rights at the Sochi Games; the hockey-related political machinations of Putin and Canada’s Stephen Harper; Canada’s increasingly hypercompetitive emphasis on its Olympic medal haul; the Games as an opportunity for hockey to evolve; and the question of whether women’s hockey will remain on the Olympic program.

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One year later, remembering Lokomotiv Yaroslavl

A memorial to the victims of the Lokomotiv Yaroslavl crash (Image from Wikipedia)

One year ago today, an airplane carrying the players, coaches, and training staff of KHL team Lokomotiv Yaroslavl crashed immediately after a failed takeoff. Of the 45 people on board, including the pilots and flight staff, 43 were dead on site. One surviving player, Alexander Galimov, died in hospital shortly afterward, leaving crew member Alexander Sizov as the lone survivor from the crash.

There are rare moments when human tragedy or triumph seemingly trumps, temporarily at least, the many problematic aspects of sport. The KHL is a highly political league given its ties to the Vladimir Putin (he has referred to the KHL as “an instrument of Russian foreign policy“) regime and the heavily influence of the Russian oligarchs who made their fortunes preying on the ruins of state run Soviet industry (for example, oil companies Gazprom and Rosneft own KHL teams SKA St. Petersburg and CSKA Moscow, respectively). The league is certainly fraught with problems, as, of course, is its North American counterpart the NHL. However, the Lokomotiv tragedy temporarily pushed those concerns aside and united hockey fans across the globe, many of whom had never previously heard of the team, in awe and sorrow.

Many fans in North America found personal connection to the tragedy through the players who had played for their favourite NHL teams before plying their trade in Russia. Names like Brad McCrimmon, Igor Korolev, Pavol Demitra, Ruslan Salei, and Alexander Karpotsev were immediately familiar to countless NHL fans and gave a known human face to the shocking tragedy. Coming at the end of a summer in which NHLers Rick Rypien, Wade Belak and Derek Boogaard all passed away through suicide or accidental overdose, the Lokomotiv crash carried particular gravitas as the bookend to a summer that shook many fans and members of the hockey community.

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Weekly Links: Homophobia in hockey; Fallout from Cam Janssen comments; The politics and economics of hockey arenas

[Editor’s Note: This post is two days late. Apologies that I was not able to get it posted on the weekend.]

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

  • Tyler Shipley published a great piece about homophobia in hockey in light of the criticism received by Brian Burke for his decision to march in Toronto’s Pride Parade rather than man the phones to make free agent signings on July 1. A great read. [Left Hook]
  • Meanwhile, Steve Dangle has a good interview with Patrick Burke about the You Can Play Project, which continues to gather momentum to fight homophobia in hockey. [Leafs Nation]
  • Cam Janssen of the New Jersey Devils unleashed some extremely sexist and homophobic comments on a radio show last week. He also stated that his role on the ice is to hurt players, to catch them with their heads down and injure them. Needless to say this sparked a huge amount of controversy. [SB Nation]
  • Not surprisingly, Janssen quickly apologized. While many people vilified Janssen for the comments, Patrick Burke reached out to him over the homophobic comments and appealed for people to forgive Janssen for the mistake. [Backhand Shelf]
  • Ellen Etchingham had a scathing critique of Janssen and one-dimensional goons, discussing his comments about injuring players and his very limited on-ice role with the Devils. [Backhand Shelf]
  • Ryan Lambert also weighed in on Janssen’s comments and role as an NHLer. [Puck Daddy]
  • I recently wrote about the construction of legacy in relation to the Hockey Hall of Fame. Ellen Etchingham has a great post in the same vein about Harvey Jackson, who starred for the Toronto Maple Leafs in the 1930s but who had off-ice issues (including alcoholism and domestic assault) that created a rift with Leafs’ owner Conn Smythe and kept him out of the Hall for many decades. An interesting discussion about what the Hall represents, what characteristics it should honour, and how it whitewashes the controversy that surrounds many hockey players and events. [Backhand Shelf]
  • Former USSR and Canada players are preparing for a friendly game that will be rematch of the 1972 Summit Series. The game, celebrating the 40th Anniversary of the Series, will take place in Moscow in September. While the article overdramatizes the impact of the Summit Series, it is notable politically as both Vladimir Putin and Stephen Harper will be part of the ceremonies. [Globe and Mail]
  • A new reality show will feature young Aboriginal men trying to earn a shot at advancing in hockey and performing before scouts. It will air on the Aboriginal People’s Television Network. [Ottawa Citizen, via Puck Daddy]
  • Ken Campbell argues that, while it has temporarily increased their local popularity, winning the Stanley Cup will not have a serious long-term impact on the Kings’ place in the Los Angeles sports market. [The Hockey News]
  • Lots of arena news last week. To start, Lighthouse Hockey has an update on the latest political wrangling over the fate of the Nassau Coliseum, home of the New York Islanders. [Lighthouse Hockey]
  • Meanwhile, could the Islanders move to the new Barclays Center in Brooklyn, NY? [Puck Daddy]
  • David Ebner reports on David Katz’s attempts to get a downtown arena built for the Edmonton Oilers, and his veiled threat to move the team if the arena deal does not go through. A good read on the politics of sport venues. [Globe and Mail]
  • Another story about a Canadian NHL team’s arena: the Vancouver Canucks are planning to construct rental apartments adjacent to Rogers Arena in the city’s downtown. [Globe and Mail]
  • Also lots of labour news, as the NHL and NHLPA begin negotiations over a new CBA. Greg Wyshynski examines the hypocrisy of Minnesota Wild owner Craig Leipold, who three months ago was claiming that salaries were causing him to lose money on the team and who then approved the signing, for a combined $198 million, of Ryan Suter and Zach Parise. [Puck Daddy]
  • Also on Puck Daddy, The Player – an anonymous NHL player/blogger – explains what the players’ issues are in the labour process. [Puck Daddy]
  • Interesting post about expansion in Canadian Interuniversity Sport (CIS), including new Women’s Hockey programs at Nipissing (North Bay, ON) and Ryerson (Toronto, ON) Universities and a new hockey program for both men and women at Laurentian University (Sudbury, ON). [Eh Game]

General Sport Links

  • Hockey in Society contributor Courtney Szto has a couple good pieces up on her blog, The Rabbit Hole. This one discusses Serena Williams and the myth of “colour-blindness” in sport. [The Rabbit Hole]
  • And this post discusses double-amputee Oscar Pistorius, who will be competing in the London Olympics this summer. A great discussion of how society constructs disability. [The Rabbit Hole]

Weekly Links: Stephen Harper’s hockey book nears completion; Trade deadline reaction; The tragedy of sexual abuse in hockey

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

  • If you haven’t done so, please check out the great posts by Matt Ventresca and E.M. Nolan this week.
  • Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper has been working on a hockey history book for some time. It is nearing completion and is expected to have a publisher confirmed next week. [The Star]
  • Speaking of world leaders and hockey: Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin states that the Kontinental Hockey League will soon “become real, good, healthy competition for the NHL.” [Ria Novosti, via Puck Daddy]
  • And speaking of the KHL, HBO has criticized the Russian league as negligent in light of the 2011 plane crash that claimed the lives of the entire Lokomotiv Yaroslavl team. [Puck Daddy]
  • Lot’s of interesting trade deadline reactions this week. Ellen Etchingham, like Matt, is  not a fan of the NHL trade deadline. This post is a great read. [Backhand Shelf]
  • Matt linked to this article in his post on the trade deadline, but if you missed it James Mirtle and Paul Wildie have excellent comments from NHLers David Steckel and Jason Arnott about the personal experience and impact of being traded. [Globe and Mail]
  • An anonymous player’s perspective on the deadline. [Puck Daddy]
  • Graham James was in court this week to face the charges of sexual abuse against him. Adam Proteau calls for the hockey community to honour the brave advocacy of victims like Theoren Fleury and Sheldon Kennedy by working to prevent future abuse from taking place. [The Hockey News]
  • Ken Dryden has a harrowing article about the consequences of doing nothing in light of sexual abuse in hockey, including some upsetting outcomes from the Maple Leaf Gardens sex scandal. [Globe and Mail]
  • A very insightful and critical look at the hockey programming run by sport-based humanitarian organization Right to Play in Northern Ontario Aboriginal communities. [Sport for Development]
  • An awkward moment in NHL social media history: a post on the Calgary Flames official Twitter feed, presumably intended to be sent from a personal account, insults the Edmonton Oilers’ re-signing of Ales Hemsky. The Flames organization quickly pulled the offending tweet, but was left with some egg on its face. [Puck Daddy; Backhand Shelf]

General Sport Links

  • This is a fantastic story. Joseph Williams, an NCAA football player for Virginia University, is taking part in a hunger strike in support of a Living Wage campaign by university employees. It is a rare moment of political consciousness and activism by an elite athlete. [Dr. Saturday]
  • NASCAR is arguably the most blatantly political (and partisan) of professional North American sports. One car at this weekend’s Daytona race will feature advertizing in support of Rick Santorum, who is running to be the Presidential candidate for the Republican Party. Mitt Romney, his major rival, will be at the race. [CBS News]