Technically we’ve already been down this road before. The world is up in arms over another hit to the head. Player A (eh?) hits defenceless (the helmet says: “What am I, chopped liver?”) Player B, who is too busy either admiring his pass or that hottie who dropped her program in the third row.
We are told by those who played the game to “never have your head down coming across the middle,” which is somewhat odd considering, in contrast, what football players are told right from the day they trade their Pampers for a chin strap: “always keep your head down coming across the middle.”
By this logic it would seem the secret to preventing traumatic head injuries is to simply wear a helmet with a face mask, or change to sneakers to lessen the impact.
The one constant you’ll notice in all of this reasoning is the inconsistency of the reasoning. What you’re not hearing in all of this is one strong, resounding (and logical) line of thinking. And that’s no mere coincidence.
Professional hockey, in case you hadn’t noticed, is a bit of a secret society, kind of like the Masons, but with knuckles and stitches instead of finely tuned neurons and the occasional human sacrifice. There is an agenda at the top – besides beating bowling in the TV-ratings war (eventually).
Consider, if you will, the amount of idiotic things a player is asked to do in the course of his job:
• Stand in front of the net while a player blasts a hardened rubber disk by your left ear. (Sidenote: the hardest pitch on record is 107 m.p.h., while the hardest official slapshot is 105.2 m.p.h., which leads me to question, why the stick?)
• Stand in front of the net and try to stop a player blasting a hardened rubber disk into your left ear. (Additional sidenote: Jacques Plante introduced the goalie mask into hockey culture Nov. 1, 1959. Quirky FYI: Plante actually thought it was Halloween.)
• Punch a player more times (and with better efficiency) than he chooses to punch you in the hopes of gaining valuable “momentum” for your team while you lose brain cells, teeth, blood and, possibly, consciousness.
Accept all these contradicting facts and insane gestures in the name of machismo, teamwork, mom and apple pie (although now, with the heavy European influence: mutter and tiramisu). Don’t question the logic, we are told. Just do your job.
Why not, you might ask?
Consider, if you will, the impact of a league with no blindside hits and no catastrophic brain-scramblers. If Darwin taught us anything (besides the Galapagos being a great place to work on your tan) it’s that through progress comes development and through survival comes evolution (creationists feel free to play along and please get those fingers out of your ears).
Imagine the evolutionary thought process of a player free of the ill effects of continual head trauma:
Why am I standing here in front of this thing while that thing is heading my way?
Those things on that guy’s feet are very sharp. I really should do more to protect myself.
Hey, that guy almost poked me with that thing!
Oh my, that thing could take an eye out!
So could THAT thing!
Buddy, watch where you’re waving that thing!
My my, this really is a very dangerous sport.
Hmmm, baseball? Interesting. I hear they pay well.
The preceding was purely fictional and meant for entertainment purposes only. By entertainment, we mean we hope you laughed while reading it, framing it, or burning it. Any similarities between this and actual events is strictly coincidental and frankly, dumb luck. Remember to remind your lawyer about the made-up part, OK?
Charlie Teljeur, creator of THN’s hockeysockpuppettheatre cartoon, brings you Loose Change every second Tuesday. Subscribe to The Hockey News today to have Charlie’s cartoon delivered to you in each issue.
Want to talk to Charlie about love, life, or Loose Change? Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.