In a recent FB debate about the value of Canadian citizenship a fiend asked me if I love my country. My reply was in the negative. It’s been a dysfunctional relationship. Sometimes abusive. I refuse to give unconditional love to any entity that gives me scraps of obligatory love in return. And, frankly, the country is going in directions I don’t care for.
But I did follow that up by confessing that I will always love Canadian hockey. I wrote, “In the immortal words of Muhammad Ali, ‘Ain’t no hockey game ever called me nigger.'”
I was inferring that hockey had never done me wrong, which isa fib. Hockey did me much more good than it did harm, and I do love hockey, Canadian hockey, but there is a n ugly ugly side to hockey, and all tea sports for that matter. Hockey did, in fact, ‘call me nigger.’ Yes, I do like that line, and I may use it again before I put a 30 on this missive, but I have used it again, already, not just because I like the line, but because it’s a perfect segue into today’s lesson, whicj is the darkk side of hockey. Anmd the timing could not be better because todayu, in just two hours, PK Subban makes his Olympic debut (he fuckin’ eh better be in our lineup or I’m gonna… oh fuck, I don’t know).
But before we move on from the segue, I must first impose a digression that will amuse you – First Star (for a prognosticating colour commentator), on the first day of the men’s Olympic hockey tourney, goes to Chris Green, who, after learning the Finns had pumped eight goals past the Austrians, boldly predicted and quipped that we ill have no trouble with the Austrians today because, “obviously, their defense hasn’t improved any since 1938,” –
and that, boys and girls, is a joke Iwill steal from Chris and use against the French in this summer’s World Cup.
Okay, on with the show.
PK Subban is the most exciting defenseman to lace ’em up since Paul Coffey. He won the Norris Trophy for being the best defenseman in the NHL last year, and no one was arguing with that choice. He skates like Coffey, or maybe even Bobby Orr. As Danny Gallivan would have put it, Subban has ‘a canonating slapshot.’ He quarterbaks the Habs powerplay like a virtuoso conductor. He shoots. He scores. In short, he is custom built for the large Sochi ice surface. But he was a healthy scratch from yesterday’s lineup.
Subban does have a fault – he can get sloppy with the puck and give it away, while trying to be too Orr. Not often. But wheh he does, his critics POUNCE on him.
In yesterday’s game, Alex Pietrangelo coughed the puck up and it lead to a scoring chance for Norwegia. The Scandinavians did not score. If Subban had done that, the puckheads would be demanding that he be sent home. On a bus. Maybe a donkey.
Why? Why all the hate on PK?
It’s not just because he’s black. Grant Fuhr
and Jerome Iginla
never took so much shit in their entire careers (Iginla is still playing) as Subban has in just a few years on the Habs’ blueline.
Although his skin is darker than the two aforementioned superstars, Subban does not get a thousand times the grief other hockey players do because of his race (although that does play a part in this stupidity). No, PK s Subban gets shat on constantly because he’s a hotdog.
Because he’s different and he dares to be himself, instead of conforming. And that’s the ugliest thing about hockey. Uglier than fighting (which doesn’t bother me a bit), uglier than puckhead parents, uglieer than the fucking neutral zone trap, uglier than Alex Ovechkin.
PK Subban is a showman. He plays the game with more demonstrable enthusiasm than anyone I can remember, except maybe Eddy Shack
and Tiger Williams
(neither of whom had shit rained down 0n them for being hotdogs, quite the contrary, in fact, which is proof that Subban haters are more racist than they’d ever admit).
A few weeks back Subban scored a brilliant goal to beat the Senators in overtime. And he had the audacity to celebrate the goal. He skated towards the crowd, about half of whom were Habs fans, tugged his jersey’s CH crest away from his chest showing it to the crowd. And for this crime, Subban was vilified by puckheads from coast to coast to coast. There would not have been more grousing inthe Canadian press if Princess Di came back to life and showed up at the Vatican sporting camel toe.
Leading the lynch mob was none other than Don Cherry. Talk about the pot calling the kettle black! Cherry is a dead-on fucking peacock.
He’s a loud-mouthed schnook. I happen to like him. Mostly. But Cherry is the personification of conformist puckheads who I so loathe.
I Canada, you’re not allowed to be yourself, if you’re a born showman, especially not if you’re an athlete. I’ve said it before a million time and I’ll say it again right now – if Muhammad Ali had been a Canadian, Canadians would have been ashamed of him. Good ole boys like Cheery would have been demanding that he be stripped of citizenship. It was, in fact, good ole boys like Cherry who through Ali in jail for refusing to go to Vietnam, famously saying, “Ain’t no Vietcong ever called me nigger.”
I was a pretty good athlete when I was a kid. I was also a freak. I wasn’t the only kid who played sports and dropped acid, smoked pot, and drank like a drunk,but I was the best athlete of the lot, at least in my era, in Thunder Bay, if I do say so myself. But it didn’t matter how good I was, and I won my share of individual awards, some fucker was always busting my ass to cut my hair and conform. Here’s a quick passage from something I wrote a couple years ago about my experience as a teenaged sports weirdo
I can’t imagine Coach was much of a Christian but, like most, he was enough of one to loathe the upside down pentagram I religiously wore around my neck back then. Once, when I was dressing for a game, I caught him staring at it. He was transfixed. Completely lost in thought (or something akin to thought, anyway). It took him ten or fifteen seconds to realize that I’d stopped dressing and was staring at him. He snapped out of it, shot me a dirty look and shook his head before announcing, “Okay, big game tonight, guys. Yeast, you’re in net. Give him a good warm-up, we need these two points,” and leaving the room.
And he hated my long hair. Oh, how he hated my long hair.
If we lost a game it was because I had long hair. Never mind that I’d blocked 10 shots, gotten two assists and had a positive plus/minus. The other guys on the team would not, could not, follow the lead of a guy with long hair because – as he once told me, after he’d had a few too many at some hockey related social event – “There’s something wrong about a boy with long hair. It just ain’t right, Salmi.”
On the way home from a preseason practice that year, my old man told me, “Coach says you need to get a hair cut. He’s going to make you captain.”
I told my old man, “Coach can go fuck himself. I’ll quit. I’ll get my card back and rip it up into a million pieces and go play in Port Arthur.”
Every year it was a new set of assholes who were trying to ‘make a man out of me.’ Every year I told them all to go fuck themselves. I can’t imagine what it would have been like if I’d had Subban’s talent and skin colour and my attitude and personality. They would have destroyed me. I never would have made it to the bigs.
Subban’s not even a weirdo. At least not that I know of. Once in a while we see genuine weirdos who are so fucking good at the sports they play that they cannot be beaten down by the conformist good ole boys.
Bill Spaceman Lee
was the starting pitcher for the Boston Red Sox in Game 7 of the 1975 World Series. He was also the Rhino Party’s candidate in the 1988 US Presidential election. His running mate was Hunter S Thompson.
won the Heisman Trophy in 1998 and was the fifth player taken in the 1999 NFL draft. He could have been the greatest runningback in the history of the NFL, but he fucked it all off because he wanted to smoke weed and study Buddhism.
won 5 NBA Championships. He was a 2x All Star and a 2x Defensive Player of the Year. The Worm, a prolific and relentless party-HARD gash-hound, was a tattooed freak, who often dyed his hair in colours that made KKK dipshit hillbillies shoot their TVs.
All three of these guys had ‘KISS-MY-ASS you honky motherfuckers’ talent. As does Subban. If PK was even one tenth as freaky as these guys, he would not be in Sochi today. He would not even have made it to the bigs because they puckhead assholes would have destroyed his spirit. They would have busted his balls until he quit. They would have crushed him.
That sickening, conformist jock mentality is the worst ting about sports. It’s not invited to the people involved directly in sports. It’s the media, too.
Young athletes consume a lot of sports media and every time they do, they are told, sometimes quietly, sometimes very loudly, what is, and what is not, acceptable. What is not acceptable is to be yourself, at least if you’re even a little bit of a social deviant, an individual. Once again, I have muck more to say on the topic but this is up at almost 1700 words and were minutes away from kicking Austrian ass, so I’m gonna park it for now.