Happy Birthday Šatan; or, How Should a Legend Retire?

The only pet I ever had was a small water turtle. I got it in the summer of 2002, and its name was Šarky (read as Shar-ke), as it was the most popular name in Slovakia at that time. You could hear it in phrases like “Šarky is God!” or “Šarky to the castle!” (in Slovakia this latter phrase doesn’t indicate any historic sightseeing, but becoming the country’s president). Šarky is not a regular given name, but it is the official nickname of Miroslav Šatan, a retired Slovak ice hockey player, who captained the national team to one gold, two silvers and a bronze in four World Championships, won the Stanley Cup with Pittsburgh Penguins in 2009 and never really said a “proper” goodbye to the ice hockey scene. On October 22, Šarky celebrated his 40th birthday and all of the Slovak media celebrated with him. However, you could sense some uncertainty about the recent position Šatan is occupying in the minds of Slovak sports fans.

If the Slovak ice hockey in the era of its independence (which means since 1993) was to have a synonym in a person of a single player, then it definitely is Miroslav Šatan. He played with the senior men’s team since 1992, moreover, the very next year he was also drafted to the NHL. As just a 19 year-old lad he was part of the Slovak national team, which after the split of the former ice-hockey empire – Czechoslovakia – was demoted to the lowest ‘C’ division. However, it took just 10 years and Šatan, as the team’s captain, was raising the top divisions’ World Championship trophy above his head. Maybe he was not as iconic a player back in those times as other notable Slovaks, Žigmund Pálffy, Peter Bondra or Pavol Demitra, but he definitely was considered to be the one defining the style Slovaks played.

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Weekly Links: More reviews of Theoren Fleury documentary; Fallout from Ron Maclean’s 9/11 comments; New media and hockey fandom

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

  • Last weekend I reviewed Theo Fleury: Playing With Fire. This week, a few more reviews of the film have come out. [Backhand Shelf; Globe and Mail]
  • Ellen Etchingham sees a critical role for on-ice officiating in cracking down on dangerous play in hockey and argues that refereeing, not supplemental discipline, needs to be more prominent in changing the culture of the sport. [Backhand Shelf]
  • Insightful and disturbing article by Sean Gordon about the prominence of prescription drugs in NHL hockey, often seen by players as a necessary way of coping with the grueling schedule and travel required of them. [Globe and Mail]
  • Ron Maclean has drawn considerable flak for comparing Washington Capitals and New York Rangers players to the firefighters and cops who responded on 9/11. He has issued a clarifying statement, but the controversy lingers. [Puck Daddy; Backhand Shelf]
  • Very interesting fan movement that aims to track the popularity of Twitter amongst hockey users in order to refute the idea, put forward by ESPN’s Senior VP, that hockey is not part of “a national discussion” in the United States. [Queen Crash, via Not Another Hockey Blog]
  • Speaking of Twitter, Justin Bourne thinks that the tongue-in-cheek tweets from the Los Angeles Kings’ account may point the way toward NHL teams’ new media future. [Backhand Shelf]
  • Interesting news from the IIHF World Championships being co-hosted by Stockholm, Sweden and Helsinki, Finland: high ticket prices have dissuaded spectators from attending games, and organizers have been forced to slash ticket prices in response. [Puck Worlds]
  • Brian Burke, GM of the Toronto Maple Leafs, will attend an anti-homophobia flag-raising outside Toronto City Hall. Rob Ford, Toronto’s mayor, will not. [Globe and Mail]
  • James Mirtle on the rise of shot-blocking as a defensive tactic in the NHL playoffs. [Globe and Mail]
  • Interesting post that touches on a wide variety of issues in hockey, including violence, masculinity, corporate interests, and legacy/heroism [Vintage Leaf Memories]
  • Greg Wyshynksi reports that some Philadelphia Flyers fans are suing the team over their ticket policy for the Winter Classic. It is an interesting case of fans vs. teams and access to and cost of tickets. [Puck Daddy]

General Sport Links

  • Buzz Bissinger, author of Friday Night Lights, has a provocative editorial about why NCAA football should be eliminated. [Wall Street Journal]
  • Concerns about fan racism and hooliganism cloud the preparations for the 2012 Euro Cup being held in Poland and Lithuania this summer. [BBC Sport]

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]