This is Screen Shots, a regular THN.com feature in which we break down a handful of hockey topics in smaller bites for your reading pleasure. Let’s go:
– Veteran Toronto Sun journalist Steve Simmons had an excellent interview with disgraced former NHL Players’ Association boss Alan Eagleson. There’s interest in the 89-year-old because it’s the 50th anniversary of the Canada Cup tournament Eagleson was a major part of, but there was something very telling, and pathetic, about Eagleson’s remarks in his new interview.
Not once in his interview with Simmons did Eagleson express regret for all the damage he caused as he defrauded players he was paid to represent, and colluded with NHL team owners to fill his own pockets with hundreds of thousands of dollars. Yes, Eagleson did apologize before heading to jail, but one of the things he said stands out as a comment on his character:
“I sincerely apologize for any harm that might have been caused,” Eagleson said in a Toronto courtroom before leaving to serve an 18-month jail term for fraud and embezzlement. “I hope I will have the opportunity in the future to make a positive contribution.”
Well, in the 24 years that followed that statement, Eagleson has done nothing to make a positive contribution to the sport he stole from for so many years. But, somehow, he’s deluded himself into making comments like this one:
“I’m very proud of what I accomplished here and I don’t think anyone else could have done it,” Eagleson told Simmons. “If it wasn’t for me there wouldn’t have been a Canada/Russia series, and after that, there wouldn’t have been Canada Cups, and there wouldn’t have been (International Ice Hockey Federation) world junior tournaments with Canada. That was me.”
The size of Eagleson’s ego is gigantic, despite the misery and pain he caused to many of his clients – some of whom became destitute after Eagleson pillaged their pension and disability monies. If you want to know who Eagleson really was in the years leading up to his downfall in 1992, do yourself a favor and read the late Russ Conway’s book, “Game Misconduct: Alan Eagleson and the Corruption of Hockey”. Conway laid out the facts about Eagleson’s deceptions and made it clear this was a genuine, villain and traitor in the hockey world and society at large. Even after Eagleson was stripped of his many honors, including being kicked out of the Hockey Hall of Fame, and being forced to return his Order of Canada award, he isn’tt humbled enough to offer heartfelt apologies to the many people he harmed. It’s still all about him. And that’s a sad commentary on his character. He’s still a pariah, and he’s earned that awful label.
– Here’s a great story on former Chicago Blackhawks/Carolina Hurricanes goalie and Stanley Cup-winner Scott Darling, who is taking up standup comedy as his post-hockey career. The 33-year-old is enjoying the same type of emotional rush he got in his goaltending career through standup now, and it’s terrific to see former players take big chances like this. Best of luck to Darling as he earns his chops in a new art form.
– Finally, three cheers to former Minnesota high school hockey player and current L.A. Kings digital media content specialist Jack Jablonski, who this week came out as a gay man. In a social media post, Jablonski – who was paralyzed in a hockey game in 2011 and now is an advocate for people with spinal cord injuries – explained how difficult it was to be a closeted gay person in a hyper-masculine environment like the hockey world.
“I was a multi-sport athlete, growing up surrounded by a straight, masculine world,” Jablonski wrote. “Once I was injured, my focus was on recovery, but the weight of my sexuality got heavier and heavier. I dealt with this on my own for a very long time and it ate me up.”
Thankfully, Jablonski was able to come to terms with who he is, and he’s going to be an inspiration for the LGTBQ+ community for his courage as a public figure. Jablonski has already inspired thousands of hockey fans who’ve watched him focus on beating his paralysis, and now he can impact a whole different community to feel comfortable being part of the hockey mosaic. Happy for him.