Weekly Links: Race and the treatment of Evander Kane; Hockey media news and insight; Quintal replaces Shanahan at NHL head office; 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!

  • Arctic Ice Hockey examines the role of race in the treatment in Winnipeg of the Jets’ Evander Kane. [Arctic Ice Hockey]
  • William Douglas gives a historical overview of Asians’ involvement in professional hockey. [Color of Hockey]
  • Sportsnet is seeking input from fans and developing a Fan Advisory Panel. Fans can provide input on programming and other broadcast concepts.  [Sportsnet]
  • Pat Maclean looks into some of the false narratives built by media and the negative ramifications of poor information. A fantastic piece. [Black Dog Hates Skunks]
  • With news the the Canadian government is slashing its budget by $130 million, the CBC has announced that it will no longer bid on professional sports, including, obviously, hockey broadcasts. [CBC]

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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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NHL ’94 and Hockey Nostalgia: An Analysis of Hockey’s Most Culturally Resonant Video Game

In the Fall of 1993, EA Sports released the third edition of its NHL video game series for the Super NES, Sega Genesis and PC computer consoles. The game, titled NHL ’94, quickly became popular amongst video gamers and hockey fans. However, at the time few could have predicted the cultural impact that NHL ’94 would have – the game is a touchstone for hockey fans in their mid-20s and 30s and has infiltrated both hockey and popular culture more broadly. The game has been referenced in films, become a defining feature of a star NHL player’s legacy, and now has been stylistically re-imagined in the latest version of EA Sports’ series, NHL 14. In NHL 14, which was released today, gamers can revisit nostalgic features of NHL ’94, including simplified controls, organ music, and blue ice.

Video gaming is a significant part of the contemporary sport economy and a major form of online and in-person social interaction for tens thousands of hockey fans. NHL ’94 is undoubtedly the most culturally resonant of the dozens of hockey titles that have been released over the past four decades. This post examines the game’s cultural resonance, contextualizes its development in the broader professional hockey economy, and discusses the ways in which it represents an outlet for and celebration of nostalgia amongst hockey fans.

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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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The Lockout Is Over: A Love Story Returns

Louie Louie, oh no, me gotta go, yeah, yeah, yeah…
Louie Louie, oh baby, me gotta go

While I may not fully agree with Michael Moore, I’m beginning this post with the same song as the opening song in his film Capitalism: A Love Story. I’ll substitute “NHL” instead of “Capitalism,” as it’s clear that the same love of the almighty dollar has shaped the dynamics of the NHL lockout. In his latest post “The Lockout Is Over: So Now What?” Matt Ventresca explores various fan initiatives of resistance such as the Just Drop It movement and furthermore discusses the psychological cognitive dissonance of these fans. I won’t regurgitate all of the content listed in his post or the wide selection of lockout response literature, but from what I gather, the prevailing narrative is that many hockey fanatics realize and regard the NHL as a profit-driven business. Thus, many of them want to punish the millionaires and billionaires responsible for the third lengthy work stoppage in 18 years.

Before I attempt to address the questions posed in the above blog post, I will briefly supplement a December blog post which posits that the majority of fans are definitely, definitely getting back together with the NHL. (Speaking of Taylor Swift, needless to say, her song “Love Story” complements this post well.) In my December blog post, I examined the Twitter follower statistics of prominent figures in the NHL lockout and argued that due to the steady growth of followers between September and December and spiked follower increases on days of optimism, both belligerents in the dispute can rest assured that the fans are assumed due to concerned and angry interest rather than apathy. I still stand by that argument, which in hindsight probably isn’t very original.

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The New York Islanders, the Barclays Center, and the politics of sport arenas: Winners and losers in the “Battle for Brooklyn”

The New York Islanders are moving to Brooklyn. When the Islanders faceoff in their first game of the 2014-15 2015-16 NHL season, it will mark an exciting day for the franchise as the team celebrates its move to a new arena in a new part of town. What Islanders players and fans may not know is that the opening faceoff will be taking place on the exact spot where, less than 10 years earlier, former Brooklyn residents lived before being forcibly evicted by the State of New York to allow a billionaire to construct the Barclays Center.

While fans of the Islanders may celebrate the end of constant discussions about the future of the Islanders, and while owner Charles Wang may welcome the possibility of expanding his team’s brand into the hip and gentrifying borough of Brooklyn, it is also important to consider the politics behind this move and the arena that the Islanders will now be calling home. This post examines the history of the Barclays Center, and the social movement of Brooklyn residents who tried, but failed, to save their homes and businesses from being seized to construct the arena, in light of the political significance of professional sport in the borough.

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Weekly Links: Hockey culture’s fear of personality; The impact of a Stanley Cup win in non-traditional NHL markets

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

  • In light of the Los Angeles Kings’ recent Stanley Cup win, an interesting post by Mike Chen about the impact of a championship on the fan base and grassroots hockey participation of non-traditional hockey markets. Chen looks back at the impact of the Tampa Bay Lighting (2004) and Carolina Hurricanes (2006) wins on those teams’ local success. [SB Nation]
  • Harrison Mooney has an excellent article about hockey culture’s suspicion of personality, with the examples of Ilya Bryzgalov and Tim Thomas as evidence, and how this could militate against a gay player coming out. [Puck Daddy]
  • Meanwhile, more NHLers have joined the You Can Play campaign. Check out the new PSA featuring Ryan Kesler of the Vancouver Canucks and Dustin Byfuglien and Tanner Glass of the Winnipeg Jets. [You Can Play]
  • Thomas Drance also has an excellent post about hockey personality, in this case looking at Roberto Luongo’s anonymous Twitter account and how he is able to craft an alternative image through his new media interactions. [Canucks Army]
  • Speaking of new media: check out this awesome infographic about the frequency with which NHL-related topics were mentioned on Twitter during the 2012 Playoffs. [Backhand Shelf]
  • Gary Mason reflects on the memory and legacy of the Vancouver’s Stanley Cup Riot one year after it occurred. [Globe and Mail]
  • Michigan Stadium, a dry venue given NCAA rules, has received a temporary liquor permit for the 2013 NHL Winter Classic between the Detroit Red Wings and Toronto Maple Leafs. [Wood TV 8, via Backhand Shelf]
  • The New Jersey Devils’ playoff run brought the team a handsome profit, but it pales in comparison to the organization’s debt. [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. [NHL.com]

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: 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]

Hockey and Militarism: What’s the Connection and Why Does it Matter?

On September 6, at Canadian Forces Base Winnipeg, four members of the recently relocated Winnipeg Jets stepped out of a Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) transport plane in the official unveiling of the team’s new jerseys. The choreographed spectacle, not to mention the RCAF-inspired logo that now adorns the Jets’ jerseys, made overt the ties between professional sport and the military—a relationship that has a long history in North America. The choice to link the new team with the Canadian Forces was polarizing, with some decrying the decision and many others supporting it. The Jets organization, meanwhile, pronounced it a tribute both to the RCAF and to the aviation heritage of Winnipeg.

The new Jets jersey, and the manner in which it was introduced, are but one example of the increasing intertwining of professional sports franchises in Canada and the United States with their respective national militaries. From the playing of God Bless America to “honour the troops” at MLB games to features on US military members during NFL broadcasts, one need not look very hard to find overt evidence of these links.

Why do such strong ties between professional sport and the military exist? How are these links popularly represented? What are the political and social implications of this relationship? These are all important questions that are asked far too infrequently in popular discussions about sport. And they are questions that, in the coming weeks, Hockey in Society will be exploring. While the broader spectrum of North American sport will certainly be considered, the specific focus will remain on hockey and the Canadian military.

I aim to explore this topic from a variety of angles to develop an understanding of how, why, and to what extent the institutions of sport and the military became enmeshed. While I have my own opinions on the matter, I am attempting to keep this investigation as balanced and open-ended as possible and to allow you, the reader, to draw your own conclusions from the research. My current plan is to present this exploration in five parts, all of which will hopefully be posted within a month or two. Here is the form I expect this project to take:

  • Part 1 – The history of militarism and hockey
  • Part 2 – The symbolic importance of nicknames and logos
  • Part 3 – The use of martial language in hockey
  • Part 4 – Hockey and Canadian militarism since 9/11
  • Part 5 – Why does the military-hockey relationship matter?