Last week The Globe and Mail hosted a live chat with Jim Thomson, the former NHL enforcer whose anti-fighting stance and recent public calling-out by Don Cherry have placed him firmly in hockey’s spotlight – Thomson has been widely interviewed and quoted in the past weeks, and Hockey in Society’s own courtneyszto posted yesterday about his appearance on CBC News.
The web chat solicited questions from readers, most of which focused on Don Cherry and the role of fighting in hockey. While Cherry has since apologized – an apology which Thomson publicly accepted – Thomson’s statements have relevance far beyond the dispute with Cherry. Personally, I must say that I have been very impressed by the passion and candidness with which Thomson handles the attention he has received and the resoluteness he has shown in defending his views.
The following excerpts from the Globe and Mail web chat offer some fascinating and intelligent insights into Thomson’s experiences in hockey and views on the current state of violence in the sport. You can view the full chat transcript here.
One under-reported aspect of Cherry’s diatribe was his dismissal of the mental health and addiction issues faced by many enforcers. Thomson immediately laid this issue on the table in his first contribution to the chat:
Clearly Thomson’s own life post-NHL has causes him to reflect critically on his own role in the culture of hockey violence. His comment about Cherry’s views of “safe” fighting highlight the contradictions between popular discourses about player safety and the role of fighting in hockey: