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Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Last Night Lookback - NYR (3) vs PHI (5)

Well that didn’t feel like a preseason hockey game. That felt like a freaking battle royal cage match. It was football paced because of all the penalties and you can’t get a flow going when your blowing all your power plays by going down a man yourself. If you eliminate the 3 short handed goals against, you probably don’t have an empty net situation and maybe you win that game 2-1 or 3-1. Maybe it's just guys eager to fight or follow through on a hit because they’re battling for roster spots, but playoff scrums after every whistle just gets old after a while.

Mitchell had a great goal and looked solid throughout the game. He and Weise are making things difficult on Torts but I have a feeling they’ll both be in Hartford before the trip out west. MZA played well at first but I think he started doing too much towards the end of the 2nd. Hank looks ready, Boyle looks ready, Girardi looks ready. Did you see that MSG in-game audio clip where Boyle and the rest of the power play unit literally draw up that third goal? That’s quality communication right there. Of course we all know the real player of the game – Jaromir Jagr. God damn. He’s such a lumbering fat ass out there, but he knows how to take those strengths to elite advantage better than anyone else I’ve ever seen. The shot is still there; he is a legitimate power play threat now and the Rangers need to take note of that for future games (read: first paragraph). Let’s be clear on one thing – do not take Jaromir Jagr’s NHL revival lightly, at least not until he disappears come game 43.

But no one’s talking about the game. They’re talking about Fagate. They’re talking about Sean Avery's accusation that Wayne Simmonds called him a homophobic slur. Now let me preface this by saying that I do not condone any type of discrimination, racial, sexual or otherwise, but this whole thing just feels wrong. I honestly wish this didn’t happen, especially after Bananagate. You can’t deny that Sean did a great thing this summer by speaking out for gay marriage, and he continues to support a variety of charitable and humanitarian initiatives, but I think it's a far shot from speaking out to flapping at the mouth. When people don’t like you (and people don’t like Sean Avery), they tend to approach your drama in the most sinisterly biting way possible. Considering the rumors about what Avery has said to African Americans on the ice, one could certainly see this episode as a racially motivated accusation. Would Sean Avery make this big a deal about it if Wayne Simmonds was white?

Let's also recognize when this went from small on-ice incident to giant media circus. This whole thing started because Sean was sitting in his locker after the game with his split open big toe bleeding all over the place and some subconsciously racist beat guys who saw what Simmonds yelled told Sean what they saw and asked Sean if he saw it too and Sean just honestly answered yes. One small word of confirmation and now the big headline is "Avery: Simmonds Called Me Homophobic Slur". I get that he's caught in something completely out of context. Maybe he doesn’t care at all and understands that shit gets said in the heat of hockey battles. I don’t know. I wasn’t there. Regardless, the whole episode just leaves a sour taste in your mouth. I can't condone the language used, but this isn't news at all.

In my opinion, what gets said on the ice should stay on the ice unless it’s racially or sexually inappropriate. In those two cases, I can support the league taking action. Life and hockey are not always that simple though. I do believe there is a difference between saying a skin-based slur and an orientation-based slur. The status of the former is obvious and the status of the latter is not. Wayne Simmonds is definitely black. Sean Avery, by all accounts, is not gay. If there was an openly gay professional hockey player visibly discriminated against by a fellow player, then that would be a different story. Despite his connection to their causes, the slurs shouldn’t really sting Sean that much. He of all players should be used to that word. He probably get called a (n): bundle of sticks or twigs at least 400 times throughout the year, but the one time a black player screams it at him and gets caught on camera, the whole white world of hockey goes nuts.

That’s another thing – you’re on fucking live television guys! Watch what you say, let alone scream, whilst being broadcast across the continent. Hockey players usually do a great job at censoring themselves, especially in those on-ice mic situations. I would definitely be dropping f-bombs during live interviews and not even noticing it. I truly believe that last night was an unfortunate slip up of live television, not an indication of some overarching issue of hockey homophobia.

It’s all just so unfortunate. I wish we weren’t talking about it. I wish we weren’t talking about Avery’s arrest this summer and Frolov’s comments in the Russian press. I wish we were talking about Sean’s play on the ice and the team’s trip to Europe. So in the spirit of distaste for this subject, I leave you with this hockey haiku entitled, “If You Don’t Have Anything Nice To Say, Don’t Say Anything At All”.

White, black, gay or straight
Hockey is for everyone
Talk is cheap, just play.

1 comment:

  1. Always confused by people who are offended by the cursing/vulgarity/inappropriateness of athletes...these are fierce compeitors with a drive to succeed who will do whatever is necessary to win or to gain an advantage over their opponent. . .in most cases they play brutal physically demanding games, their heated, bruised, tired, etc, they've been brought up in a rough and tumble environment...if people have problems with what's said between two competitors maybe ESPN should start airing competitive knitting. . .