Links Round-up: Penguins White House Visit and potential NHL anthem protests; Flames and Calgary at odds over arena deal; NHL goes to China; and more

Formerly known as “Weekly Links,” our round-up of important and interesting pieces from the hockey blogosphere and media will now appear twice a month. Due to some major stories this week, we are dividing up the links into sections.

US Anthem Protests and Donald Trump Comments

  • With Donald Trump lashing out at NFL protesters and preemptively denying the NBA’s Golden State Warriors the traditional White House visit, the Stanley Cup champion Pittsburgh Penguins released a tepid statement confirming that they will attend the White House. This made the President a happy man and thrust the Penguins into the political spotlight:

  • Condemnation of the Penguins was swift, and herein we present a sampling of bloggers’ takes. First, please read Courtney Szto’s piece here on Hockey in Society. [Hockey in Society]
  • Next up, from phylliskessel13: “Participating in a fun photo opportunity for a President who has referred to their athletic peers as “son[s] of bitches,” who can only muster a lukewarm condemnation of white supremacists, who has attempted to ban Muslims from the United States, who targets trans service members, who has called for more police violence, and who has bragged about sexually assaulting women, sends just as loud a message as declining to participate. And deciding to announce it on Sunday, giving Trump an opportunity to gleefully tweet about it, further positions Pittsburgh as one of the ‘good ones’ in contrast to those unruly black teams.” [Pension Plan Puppets]
  • And from yolo_pinyato: “How can a sport purport to be a safe haven from the harsh realities off the ice and intrinsically support the oppression that fans and burgeoning players need saving from? How can hockey be for everyone in a society that is not? The silence speaks for itself.” [Raw Charge]
  • Finally, from fourthlinewing: “18 days ago the NHL boasted and trumpeted the release of a “Declaration of Principles” claiming that this league was one where every player and fan, regardless of race, gender, sexuality or any other defining characteristic, could feel welcome. That “principle” has today been proven to be a lie, not only by the NHL themselves but by the current Stanley Cup Champions, the Pittsburgh Penguins.” [Five for Howling]
  • Penguins captain Sidney Crosby has come under particular scrutiny for failing to deviate from his middle-of-the-road wholesome image by endorsing protest against the US President. El Jones, a Halifax poet, activist, and professor, offers a blistering critique, that is well worth a read. [Vice]
  • And others weighted in why Crosby cannot “stick to sports” in light of the current political climate. [Sportsnet; Metro]
  • What about other NHLers? Mark Spector explains why we shouldn’t expect to see anthem protests sweeping through the NHL (bringing up many points we touched on here on this blog one year ago). [Sportsnet]

  • Many American players have shied away from committing to kneeling for the anthem, and some – such as David Backes – have outright condemned it. Mary Clarke has a round-up of various players’ and coaches’ statements. [SB Nation]
  • Fewer that 5% of NHL players are Black. Bruce Arthuer speaks with some of these players and highlights how being a standard-bearer for racial justice in a White-dominated sport would be a lonely venture. [The Star]

Calgary Arena Politics

  • The Calgary Flames have been actively trying to extract financial concessions from the city of Calgary to fund a new arena. Flames’ president Ken King claimed that the team is now a “have not” in the NHL. [TSN]
  • Public opinion has not been kind to the Flames, who have implied the threat of relocation, criticized the mayor and implicitly taken sides during an election campaign, and brought in NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman to meet with the city (and later criticize the municipal government’s hesitancy to spend hundreds of millions of public dollars on a private arena). [Calgary Herald]

  • Meanwhile, Barry Petchesky sums up these tactics as “pretty gross”… [Deadspin]
  • … and Jason Markusoff summarizes the Flames’ efforts: “They seem to genuinely want fans to believe in the concept of an arena built mainly through public subsidy, and might yet persuade them. But the team is likely further from that goal now than it was before this week.” [Maclean’s]

NHL Games in Beijing/Shanghai and Hockey in China

  • The NHL sent two teams, the Vancouver Canucks and Los Angeles Kings, to play exhibition games in Beijing and Shanghai. This is part of the NHL’s efforts to grow its revenue and increase its brand in the lucrative Chinese market, which we can expect to continue in the coming years. [The Province; CBC; Sportsnet; The Province]
  • Not everyone was bullish on the NHL’s China games. Phil Esposito, among others, has criticized the lack of media promotion for the games and the lackluster attendance. [Globe and Mail]

  • How have Chinese immigrants and Chinese-Canadians engaged with hockey? This report from Vancouver explores this question, and quotes Hockey in Society’s own Courtney Szto! [The Province]
  • China is not only looking to grow the popularity of men’s hockey, it is also aggressively strengthening its women’s program with an eye on the 2022 Beijing Olympics. [The Province]
  • 44 years before the Canucks played in China, the UBC Thunderbirds men’s hockey team played a 7-game exhibition series in Shanghai. Read their story here. [The Province]

Other Links

  • Bauer has invented a device called the NeuroShield, which will purportedly protect athletes’ brains from small, but long-term damaging, contact in sports like hockey. [Globe and Mail]
  • With this news, please be sure to Matt Ventresca’s essay on how technology alone will not end concussions in hockey. [Hockey in Society]
  • Lebanon now has a national ice hockey team, based in Montreal and consisting of Lebanese-Canadians. [CBC Montreal]
  • Manon Rheaume reflects on her historic NHL exhibition appearance, 25 years ago, for the Tampa Bay Lightning. [Sportsnet]
  • The Philadelphia Flyers, apparently having smoothed over a long-festering rift, will be retiring the jersey #88 of Eric Lindros. [Flyers]
  • Joffrey Lupul sparked a controversy when he claimed in an Instagram post that he was improperly failed on a medical test by Toronto Maple Leafs doctors. If true, this would suggest that the team is trying to keep Lupul out of the league to secure salary cap benefits. The NHL is investigating. [TSN; Sportsnet]
  • The New York Islanders may be leaving Brooklyn, as they seek to secure a new arena deal in the New York City area. [CBS New York]

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