Chicago Blackhawks fans chanted “Basketball, basketball!” at Washington Capitals player, Smith-Pelly. He rose to challenge them, and they didn’t let up.This type of ugliness remains rampant across the country, especially at sports events and bars and especially by white men. The question remains: what are we actually going to do about it?
It was to be magic, the stuff of dreams: a pair of seats ten rows behind the Capitals’ net for Game Seven, perfect for that overtime goal by Matthews, Marner or Nylander. And then not…and I was sent this damnable message: “Thanks for being a fan”? Fuck you. They’re my seats! Mine. I owned them on this night, just like the Leafs owned…ugh.
Phil Kessel started the summer by bringing the Stanley Cup to Sick Children’s Hospital in Toronto. He ended it with a biting tweet on being left off the USA team, which lost all of their games at the World Cup of Hockey. Coach Tortorella – and some players – took offense. They said that Kessel shouldn’t express an opinion, no matter how relevant, because it had an edge. They have a problem with Kessel simply because he’s his own person, because he says what he thinks. Which says a lot more about them.
The Toronto Maple Leafs traded away the majority of veteran players over the past season to begin anew.
On Monday, February 29, four young players had their NHL debuts: Connor Carrick (21), Kasperi Kapanen (19), William Nylander (19), Nikita Soshkinov (22). Soshkinov was the first of the rookies to score, two days later, on March 2 against the Washington Capitals.
I blogged in February on The Five Big Problems of the Toronto Maple Leafs. Happily Team President Brendan Shanahan agreed on the most important point. By hiring Mike Babcock as the new head coach – $50 million for eight years – Leafs management sends a clear message to media, fans and players alike: this team must win now.
There are many next steps, the most important of which is to address player leadership, but the first step is the most important.
Said Babcock this morning: “I believe this is Canada’s team and it’s time to put it back on the map. I came here to be involved in a Cup process. I have a burning desire to win. I want to build a team that the fans of the Toronto Maple Leafs can be proud of.”
The Toronto Maple Leafs are one of the most talented teams in hockey, and yet, as CBS Sports wrote,”They are extremely streaky and volatile. You never know which team is going to show up and what exactly is going to happen.”These players know how to play. They know how to pass. They know how to score. They know how to defend. They just need a coach to move them in the same direction.Current head coach, Randy Carlyle, is the one to blame for this inconsistency. As he admitted himself after the team lost recently to Carolina, the team with the worst record in the league: ”I don’t think we were mentally ready to go out and play the type of game that was required. Simple as that.” (Whose job is that? Oh, right, the coach.)
Looks like 2015 might be a good year after all: Leafs Fire Carlyle.
Last Friday, Toronto lost to Buffalo, the worst team in the league, and Phil Kessel, the Toronto Maple Leafs’ star forward walked away from the media scrum, telling them, “Leave me alone.”
The jilted scum (sic) made a story out of that. As Mr. Kessel admits, his answers rarely offer them anything much. “I’m a guy that likes to go out and play hockey and have some fun.” Teammate Nazem Kadri, victim of as much negative press as anyone, gave his point of view: “When (Phil) doesn’t feel like he can trust anybody, he gets a little bit shy and a little bit timid in that regard. It’s really nothing personal.” Let me put it differently and not so nicely: sports reporters are lazy and judgemental. They do not pose insightful questions that develop understanding of the nature of the game nor the player, but instead pose trite statements with question marks at the end, searching for a quote that they can insert into their pre-written narrative.
Ray Rice is guilty of domestic violence. No one, including Mr. Rice, disputes that. His guilt was established weeks ago when a video was released showing Mr. Rice dragging his unconscious fiance out of the elevator.
The National Football League subsequently did a video review and, after Mr. Rice supplicated appropriately, gave him a paltry two game suspension.
However this decision was dramatically reversed today when videotape was released – a reverse angle as it were – showing Mr. Rice actually throw the punch that knocked her out.
The NFL’s reversed decision was radioed down to the field and Mr. Rice was terminated by his team, the Baltimore Ravens, and suspended indefinitely by the league.
The odd thing about this reversal is that the second videotape does not reveal anything not already known; he had admitted to striking her and the videotape had shown her unconscious from that blow. However Mr. Rice’s crime of domestic violence is not in fact at issue here, but rather the perception that the league endorses the crime. The league understands that, if they didn’t take drastic action that it isn’t Mr. Rice who punched that poor woman and knocked her out, but the NFL itself. Which begs the question of Ray Lewis, a former NFL Baltimore Raven who served time for obstruction of justice – a plea deal to avoid murder charges – and yet recently had a statue erected in his honor.
Indeed what if Mr. Lewis’ crime had been videotaped? Would that statue have been erected or Mr. Lewis ever allowed in the television booth? The sad truth is that, as guilty as Mr. Rice is of assault, he is a scapegoat, someone for the rest of the league to heap scorn on, so that the NFL can be left to commit business as usual. (Fantasy Football owners will just have to bite the bullet and let Ray go.)