Hockey and Race
Once again, Boston Bruins fans have come under fire for their blatant racism toward an opposing player. Now of course I’m not labeling all Bruins fans as being racist or hateful, but there were some 17,000 tweets sent out after P.K. Subban scored the OT winner in game one of the Habs/Bruins series that simultaneously had Subban’s name mentioned, along with a racial slur. In a way, I’m surprised that some Bruins would resort this, considering P.K.’s brother Malcolm is in the Bruins organization, and that the Bruins broke the colour barrier with the NHL’s first black player in 1958 with Willie O’Ree suiting up for the B’s. Yet at the same time, I’m not surprised, as many Bruins fans did the same thing when the Capitals Joel Ward knocked Boston out of the playoffs in 2012. Also, I’m not surprised because on a larger scale, the NHL and hockey as a whole have had a prejudiced past that it seems unable to escape from.
You can trace the blatant racism in hockey throughout the last 100 years with numerous examples. Maple Leafs owner Conn Smythe was impressed by Quebec Aces star Herb Carnegie in 1937, and is said to have uttered that he would “take Carnegie tomorrow for the Maple Leafs if someone could turn him white.” Even after O’Ree broke down the barrier (facing many hurdles in his own time), racism continued to pervade the game. Mike Marson, drafted by the Capitals in 1974, said he, “entered hockey a man, and left hockey as a black man,” due to constant racial slurs and taunts. One would think that this day and age we would not be hearing of acts like this committed against players due to the colour of their skin, yet it is still happening today. Whether it be this recent incident with Subban, the Twitter-bashing of Joel Ward in 2012, or the banana-throwing incident with Wayne Simmonds in 2011, singling out and hating a player based in race is still prevalent in the game today. Why has it continued to show up in hockey and sport in general? That’s a question I’m not sure I have the answer to, though I hope for a day when we can discuss Subban or any other player of colour’s on-ice performance without racial bias or hatred.
Hockey is supposed to be a game of inclusion and sportsmanship, not exclusionary and hate-filled, so lets start making it that way.
How Do the Habs Win?
Speaking of the Habs/Bruins series, I have a serious question: how does Montreal win? Even though they were dominated by Boston in the first two games, they scored a win in game one, and almost managed another in game two. I think I’ve figured out the steps to their game-plan though. 1. Get out-played/out-shot and rely heavily on Carey Price to stop pucks. 2. Suck the opposition into a penalty. 3. Capitalize with a good power-play. 4. Profit. It may seem like an ugly way to victory, but hey, a win is a win in the end. When you are not the biggest or strongest team, having skaters who can get under your opponents skin without breaking the rules (a.k.a. Brendan Gallagher), can be a smart way to counteract a tough squad like the big, bad Bruins. It’s keeping Montreal in games, though I still don’t think they get past Boston here in round two. And yes, the final step as “profit” is indeed a South Park reference…
Sad Joe, and Oscar Thornton?
Poor Joe Thornton, he just can’t seem to win the big one. As John Tortorella said years ago, Joe could be one of the better players in the league to have never won anything. And though the Sharks epic collapse does not fall squarely on Thornton’s shoulders, you can tell he took this defeat to heart from the above picture which I now simply title, “Sad Joe.” Poor guy…
But the bigger story involving Thornton could be that an Arrested Development storyline has come to life! Not only did George Bluth have a homeless-looking, hippy brother in Oscar Bluth, but it appears Joe Thornton does as well. Here he is pictured looking confused, while enjoying a McFlurry. Thank you Bobby Tannock for showing me this photo!
Photo Credits: huffingtonpost.com, trendypie.com, fansided.com