On the eve of another busy weekend, we present Friday’s News and Views:
News: Evander Kane of the Winnipeg Jets tells The Hockey News that “a good portion” of the criticism he receives and the controversy surrounding him is because he’s black.
Views: When I met with Kane in Montreal two weeks ago for the story that will appear in our March 4 issue, it was the first time I had ever met him. I was struck by how a 21-year-old kid could be so engaging, so comfortable in his own skin and so well spoken. It was just a 30-minute conversation, but it left an indelible impression.
That is obviously not the case for everyone. Some of Kane’s controversy and criticism has been brought on by Kane himself. But we’d all be naïve to suggest that some of it isn’t because of his skin color.
All you have to do is look at social media forums such as Twitter to come to that conclusion. Armed with relative anonymity, keyboard warriors spew garbage and hatred that, we have to presume, they wouldn’t have the courage or stupidity to do if they actually had to show their faces.
Just the other day, I saw on Twitter the following comment about a colleague in the hockey writing business: “you’re just awful, have a heart and give everyone a valentine’s present and tap dance you way blindfolded on the DVP (a major freeway in Toronto) #terrible.”
From hockey writers to players to celebrities, it all comes with the territory on a social medium that has the potential to do so much good, but often does so much bad. As we progress as a society, you’d think we’d all be a little more enlightened, right? Think again.
News: A hockey parent with the Lord Selkirk Minor Hockey Association in Manitoba is suspended from watching his son’s playoff games this year after being caught on video verbally abusing players on an opposing team and physically threatening the parent of another player.
Views: Good on the Lord Selkirk Minor Hockey Association. Just because things such as this happen far too often doesn’t mean anyone should have to put up with it. What makes the entire situation even worse is the culprit is holding his toddler in one of his arms throughout the entire encounter. Like the keyboard warriors, people who yell from the safety of being behind the glass have to be held accountable.
News: Ottawa Senators owner Eugene Melnyk tells Bruce Garrioch of the Ottawa Sun that he is “outraged” over losing Norris Trophy defenseman Erik Karlsson and that Matt Cooke of the Pittsburgh Penguins, “doesn’t belong in the league.”
Views: Whenever, anyone, and I mean anyone involved in the NHL goes down this road, whether it’s Mario Lemieux or Eugene Melnyk, he exposes himself to ridicule. That’s because they’re all part of the machinery that perpetuates a culture of violence in hockey and they look like hypocrites when they complain about it only when their own team is victimized.
I mean, this is a guy who has Chris Neil on his payroll. So come on, really? Funny how we never hear that same kind of outrage when Neil roams the ice like a predator looking for opponents to decapitate. Ask Brian Boyle, John Mitchell or Victor Hedman whether players like Neil belong in the NHL.
After railing against Cooke, Melnyk went on to say: “If these are the rules, I just want to know. We'll play with the same rules. Make sure you have one or two goons whose job it is to do this either intentionally or unintentionally.”
See, that’s where Melnyk’s logic fails him. If you’re really concerned about the game, don’t add to the problem. Having goons in the lineup will never keep these things from happening. As Cooke proved prior to the hit on Karlsson, harsh suspensions will.
News: The Toronto Maple Leafs will celebrate the 50th anniversary of their 1962-63 Stanley Cup-winning team Saturday night.
Views: The 1963 team, which was bookended by Leaf Cup winners in the year previous and after, was almost certainly the best Leaf team of all-time. Nine players from that team have gone on to the Hockey Hall of Fame and no Maple Leafs team before or since has breezed through the playoffs the way that one did. That year, the Leafs knocked the Montreal Canadiens off in the first round in five games, then the Detroit Red Wings in five. With seven goals and 12 points in 10 games, Dave Keon was outstanding. Had the Conn Smythe Trophy for playoff MVP been in existence, Keon undoubtedly would have won it and added that trophy to the Lady Byng he won that season.
News: When some owners of iPhone’s Siri app say, “Show me a picture of God,” a photo of Senators captain Daniel Alfredsson appears.
Views: After losing Jason Spezza and Erik Karlsson to long-term injuries, the Senators had better hope Siri is right on this one. Because without their two best players, the Senators will need an injection of divine intervention to salvage their playoff hopes. Paul MacLean’s coaching genius and Craig Anderson’s otherworldly play probably won’t be enough.
VIDEO: ONE-ON-ONE WITH EVANDER KANE
Ken Campbell is the senior writer for The Hockey News and a regular contributor to THN.com with his column. To read more from Ken and THN's other stable of experts, subscribe to The Hockey News magazine. Follow Ken on Twitter at @THNKenCampbell.