This is the first in a weekly series, summarising the hockey stories that have stuck with us. Yes, today is Monday, but in Lindsey’s defence, she was in Sweden for the weekend and, also, mostly had to take to the bed because of illness.
1. The Good
This year, the NHL Global Series in Stockholm, Sweden, was a pair of games, back-to-back, between the Tampa Bay Lightning and the Buffalo Sabres. Coming into the weekend, the Sabres were on something of a downward trajectory after a hot start (stop me if you’ve heard this before), while the Bolts seemed to be waiting for their season to start. Maybe, they were waiting for Victor Hedman to return from injury, filled with joy at being in his native Sweden. He certainly looked like he was having the best time out there.
Both Donya and Lindsey attended the games, with their friend, Clare, and had a great time. The best part about traveling for hockey games isn’t always the hockey. Make no mistake: the Flyers-Hawks game in Prague was a lot of fun, and seeing Alexander Ovechkin taking over the Scotiabank Arena in Toronto is a memory Lindsey will cherish (memory being a slight overstatement; mostly, all she can remember are her palpitations in the third period).
The fun thing, though, is meeting up with friends and making new friends. There’s a lot of joy to be had in striking up conversation with people from any team. We chatted with a group of four Sabres fans who’d traveled to Stockholm for the game. We made friends with two more Sabres fans, who live in North Carolina. We had some good conversations with three Bolts fans in front of us during the first game, who took our cooing over Jeff Skinner and Marcus Johansson with good grace. (The less said about the fans behind us in the second game, the better, but one thing: the only thing more annoying than a dude with the drum, is the dude who complains about the dude with the drum.)
The best thing about hockey isn’t always the hockey, and if you ever get the opportunity to travel to the Global Series, or to see any game, we sincerely hope you find it as welcoming an environment as we did.
2. The Bad
Talking about welcoming environments, I think we’re all in agreement that Don Cherry needs to go. His most recent racist spiel (and it was racist; anyone who tries to justify it is trying to justify their own prejudice) relates to the wearing of the poppy.
Now, Lindsey is Irish. There is a whole thing around poppy-wearing in Ireland, and what it represents. On one hand, it is tied too closely to the British who, at the time of the first world war, executed the leaders of the 1916 rebellion but, on the other hand, thousands of Irish men signed up to fight in the British army in both world wars, and their choice should be commemorated too.
However, that kind of complexity is absolutely not what Don Cherry was talking about.
Don Cherry’s rant on immigrants:— Rosa Hwang (@journorosa) November 10, 2019
“You people… love our way of life, love our milk and honey. At least you could pay a couple of bucks for poppies or something like that. These guys paid for your way of life that you enjoy in Canada.”
Ron MacLean nodded and gave a thumbs up. pic.twitter.com/OXnIwV1n9T
We are not Canadian but there is no place, on this entire planet, for this kind of racism and intolerance. Since this happened, Sportsnet have kind of apologised. Ron MacLean has apologised. Various stakeholders have condemned Cherry’s words, to a greater or lesser degree. But do you know who hasn’t apologised? His silence on the matter is deafening but we should not let his words drown out the inclusivity we all want to see in hockey.
(If you want to read more about this story, beyond what has reached even the BBC and the Guardian, I recommend this Athletic article (behind a paywall), by Sunaya Sapurji.
Edited to add: Shortly before this post was to be published, word has come through that Don Cherry has, in fact, been fired by Sportsnet. We can only hope that this draws a line under the uglier side of hockey and welcomes in a renewed attempt to show that hockey is for everyone.
3. The Ugly
Look, Lindsey loves Nicklas Backstrom with her heart and soul, and she also loves Christmas, but she’s not sure what to make of this Nicklas Backstrom Elf bobblehead, available as part of a Washington Capitals ticket package. As if the iconic Backstrom garden gnome wasn’t enough, the Capitals have really leaned into the otherworldliness of this franchise forward with their latest offering.
That doesn’t mean she doesn’t want it.