Multimedia or Megalomania?

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Hey, I’m a millennial. I was born in 1982, which not only marks me as one of the earliest incarnations of this particular generation, but means I’m an old bastard compared with the rest of my cadre. I don’t mind being called old by my peers, it just gives me an inflated sense of wisdom to lord over the rest of these children. All kidding aside, there seems to be a general perception amongst individuals of previous generations that millennials will doom the planet. Not so! In fact, we may be the true saviours of this tiny orb, after centuries of the rest of you all fucking it beyond recognition.

Yeah, thats right, we’re on to you. And to point out as a matter of fact, it was YOUR selfish generations that accelerated climate change from 0-100, real quick. It was YOU that continued centuries of racist and ignorant policies towards people who you deemed inferior because of some genetical predisposition. It was YOU who pumped capitalism’s tires until they blew up and destroyed half the planet. So from all of us, thanks for that.

It wasn’t us that simply became the stereotypical narcissistic punks who you love to gripe about, it was your shitty social experiment that made some of us that way. Clearly there are way too many helicopter parents out there. We are witnessing the final descent into madness of what decades of self-centred teachings have left us. Telling children that they can be anything they want is nice and all, but its not really accurate. Its perfectly fine to nurture talents and foster imagination in kids, but constantly drilling into them that they are ‘special’ has left us with young adults who are unprepared to deal with the harsh realities of life. Your boss wont think you’re special, he won’t even remember your birthday. And compliments? Don’t hold your breath waiting for someone to pat you on the back for doing a good job, it’s just not a thing in the real world. Participation medals, scoreless soccer games, they’re actually leaving a generation completely unprepared for failure. Like everything they do is golden and shiny and amazing.

We are also in the middle of outrage culture, thanks to said self-aggrandizing. EVERYONE is offended by EVERYTHING. Not to mention the fact that their outrage isn’t even a private conversation anymore, thanks to social media. And the previous generations don’t seem to grasp the notion that social media isn’t their private psychiatrist, its like standing on the corner of a crowded street with a megaphone, shouting your nonsense for the entire world to hear. So your technological ineptitude combined with the notion that your ignorant opinions actually matter to the rest of us has put us in a bit of a quandary. On one hand we have an amazing tool that connects us all, world-wide. On the other hand, we have a platform for hate speech and shaming that puts those hateful views on display for all to see.

And this is where the millennials come in. We get technology. We do. Perhaps we haven’t mastered the arts of sarcasm, subtlety, and wit, but how many young adults are as snappy as Winston Churchill? For every silly Facebook post you think reinforces your opinion of us, we take your social and political views and eschew them. We, by and large, aren’t racists. We don’t discriminate the way you love to. I can honestly say that for my peers, race, gender and politics would never prevent us from working with someone. We care deeply about the environment. Yes, it’s true that the capitalist spiral that we are in right now is difficult to avoid. We mostly drive cars, we eat too many cheeseburgers, we are materialistic to a certain degree. But you can’t blame the rats for walking through the maze as they try and find their way out. We will sort this climate thing out. We will find better, cleaner ways to power our world. We aren’t beholden to the oil oligarchs the way that you are.

From time to time, I read an editorial from some pissed off gen-x’er or baby boomer about how my generation is going to ruin everything. I think you’ve all done a perfectly fine job at doing that already. Personally, I cant wait to remove you forcefully from your institutions, kicking and screaming like the whiny grown children you really are. Part of the problem is that none of you are willing to retire, because you think your opinion really matters that much. It doesn’t. We don’t care about your stuffy, nonsensical views. We don’t care about your racist policies, your self-righteousness and your outrage. We have bigger-picture stuff on our minds. We can see plainly the mess you’ve created for us, and we are determined to fix it. The ruinous world you’ve laid out for us all can still be saved, despite your best efforts to destroy it. So from a millennial to all of you, thanks for nothing, good riddance.

Reservations

On Tuesday evening, I attended a play called Reservations, the latest offering from playwright Steven Ratzlaff. The show was produced by Theatre Projects Manitoba and held at the Rachel Browne Theatre, an intimate venue of about 120 seats.

The play was split into two acts, each lasting about an hour which kind of left me feeling slightly disjointed with the narrative. It didn’t ruin the play for me, but the two acts were unrelated and neither had any kind of resolution to their stories.

The stories had three roles each and the acting in the show was admirable. Veteran Winnipeg actor Sarah Constible played the roles of Anna and Jenny. Constible has numerous film, television, and stage credits to her name . She’s played roles in everything from Shakespeare’s Henry IV to the HBO Canada show Less Than Kind. The roles of Pete and Mike belonged to Raztlaff, who in addition to writing plays, has an extensive stage and film acting resume as well. Rounding out the cast was Tracey Nepinak, a Cree actor living in Winnipeg, who played the roles of Esther and Denise.

The first act was called Pete’s Reserve and told the tale of aging farmer Pete who decides to give nearly all of his 600+ acres of farmland back to the local reservation. This decision puts him at odds with his two children Anna and Tim who are expecting to get the land as inheritance. Anna quotes a realtor as saying the land is valued at over $3 million Complicating the matter is that Pete’s partner Esther is Cree, which Sarah believes is influencing her father’s decision. This act was a great opening to the show, with solid acting from all three. The writing was snappy and on point. Pete’s steadfastness was thoughtfully portrayed by Raztlaff, and his easygoing and down to earth nature reminded me of some of my relatives who are farmers. Anna’s exasperated and modern attitude was excellently portrayed by Constible, and her impassioned pleas toward her father were intimate and realistic. Esther played a secondary role in this act (which I thought should be expected of her character) preferring not to get between Pete and his daughter. As I mentioned earlier, this act was well written, inflected with humour and insight which helped to get the crowd involved with the story. I just wish the plot had a little more to it and I wanted to see a firm resolution.

Act two was a story about two foster parents who are battling a new, indigenously run Child and Family Services agency. The story was set in 2008/2009 (according to the handbill) a period when devolution was causing many new indigenous CFS agencies to spring up. Jenny is a former student of Mike, who is the chair of the philosophy department at the University of Manitoba. The two developed a relationship and married, and ended up taking in 3 indigenous foster children. Jenny and Mike are engaged in a dispute about their foster children’s mandated visits back to their home community. The agency worker Denise is also a former student of Mike and she’s gone on to earn a doctorate before entering into social work. The acting in this part of the show was also well done, especially the role of Jenny who’s racist beliefs and ignorant resolve drive the narrative. Unfortunately, the writing in the second act was too cumbersome and dry to make the performances effective. The latter part of the second half involved a long-winded dissertation on the theories of early twentieth century German philosopher Martin Heidegger, and was simply too complex and full of jargon for the non-philosophy crowd. There were attempts to spice up the vitriolic dialogue with humour, but the timing and seriousness of the script prevented the humour from drawing the audience in.

Overall, this was an average play, compared with bigger shows I have seen. The acting was solid, and stage veterans like Constible and Ratzlaff really lend a professional feel to the small venue. Nepinak delivered on the tough Heidegger narrative, although her performance was a little awkward at times and lacked nuance. The lighting and projection design from Hugh Conacher was clever, with a pastoral prairie scene displayed on a backdrop. There were three smaller screens set up in front of the backdrop, showing everything from blowing wheat and drifting smoke to northern lights. The sound and original music from Andrew Balfour really helped to transport the audience, and gave some much needed gravity to the story. The writing is what let the wind out of the sails in the second half, with a long discussion that was difficult to navigate. In the end, I would recommend this show based on the tough subject matter that was discussed. I always enjoy engaging and thought provoking discussions of important social issues, and this was right up my alley.

There was a brief talkback session after the show, where the cast was joined onstage by Conacher, Balfour and  stage manager Jane Buttner. The audience was supposed to have the opportunity to ask questions, but this quickly devolved into an opinion war between a few of the attendees. Most of the questions asked were long and complicated, and the cast and crew had a difficult and awkward time answering. This portion wasn’t thought out very well, as there was very little direction or guidance being given to audience members.

From Hay Bales to the Hall of Fame (Part 2)

Part 2 of my series documenting the Manitoba born members of the Hockey Hall of Fame

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Mosienko posing after his record-setting game

Winnipeg has a soft spot for Bill Mosienko. Hockey fans everywhere know him for famously scoring three goals in the same shift (in 21 seconds no less) in a game against the New York Rangers in 1952. He nearly had a fourth later on in that same shift, but that hat trick record will stand alone as a benchmark that probably won’t ever be matched.

Mosienko was born in the North End of Winnipeg in 1921, son to a Ukrainian immigrant. His father worked for the Canadian Pacific Railway as a boilermaker, and one can imagine the world Bill grew up in. The Winnipeg General Strike had only happened two years prior, and Bill’s father worked in the CPR’s Weston shops.

Bill’s diminutive size (listed at 5′ 8″, 160 lbs) probably prevented him from being a highly sought after prospect, but when Blackhawks player and fellow Winnipegger Joe Cooper saw him playing on the outdoor rinks, he urged management to sign him. The Blackhawks took Cooper’s advice and signed the 18-year-old Mosienko to a professional contract in 1940. Interestingly, Mosienko’s first two career NHL goals were also scored 21 seconds apart in a game in 1942. Mosienko would go on to play his entire 14 year NHL career with the Blackhawks, and in the 1944-45 season, he avoided recording a single penalty minute, earning himself a Lady Bing Trophy as the NHL’s most gentlemanly player. Mosienko also managed to garner two All-Star selections.

After his NHL career was done, Mosienko returned to his hometown, and established the Winnipeg Warriors of the Western Hockey League. Mosienko would play four seasons with the Warriors, alongside many future NHL’ers including fellow Hall of Famer Fred Shero.

After his hockey career was done, Mosienko and Cooper would go on to operate a string of bowling alleys in the city, one of which is still owned by his family and bears his name. Mosienko also has a hockey arena in the North End named after him. Mosienko passed away in Winnipeg in 1994.

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Billy Mosienko Lanes, Main Street, Winnipeg

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Next up on my list is my favourite goalie of all time, Eddie ‘The Eagle’ Belfour. Born in Carman, MB in 1965, Belfour would go on to be one of the best goalies of his generation despite not being drafted. His fiery personality and  zany antics would earn him the handle “Crazy Eddie” and he often clashed with Blackhawks head coach and fellow firebrand Mike Keenan. Throughout his storied career he would always be known for the eagle graphic on his mask, something which he maintained regardless of what team he was playing for.

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Eddie ‘The Eagle’ Belfour

Belfour’s career was nothing short of spectacular. He currently sits in third place on the list of all time wins by a goalie (484), behind legends Patrick Roy and Martin Brodeur. He also holds fourth place in all time penalty minutes for a goalie. Belfour began his career with the Blackhawks in the playoffs of the 1989-90 season where he played six games. The following year, he made his regular season debut with the Blackhawks winning the Calder Memorial Trophy (rookie of the year), the Vezina Trophy (best goaltender) and the William Jennings Trophy (fewest team goals against). He was also nominated for a Hart Trophy (most valuable player) that season, which was unheard of for a goaltender at the time. Belfour would go on to win a Stanley Cup with the Dallas Stars in 1999, setting a NHL record for wins in a postseason (16). Belfour would collect the Vezina Trophy twice in his career, the Jennings Trophy four times, and be selected for six All-Star games. He also owns an Olympic gold medal, playing for Canada in the 2002 games. He is one of only two people to have won a Stanley Cup, and Olympic gold medal, and an NCAA championship. He was elected to the Hall of Fame in his first year of eligibility, in 2011.

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The next entry belongs to Norman ‘Red’ Dutton. Born in Russell, MB in 1897, Dutton played 10 season in the NHL for both the Montreal Maroons and the New York Americans. In one of life’s strange twists, Dutton almost never made it to the NHL. At the outbreak of the First World War in 1914, Dutton jumped at the opportunity to enlist, lying about his age to get in. He would serve with the Princess Patricia’s Light Infantry and was severely wounded during the famous battle of Vimy Ridge in 1917. A shrapnel blast nearly severed his right leg, and doctors wanted to amputate. Dutton refused, and spent the next 18 months recuperating, gradually regaining the full use of his leg.

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Norman ‘Red’ Dutton

While he never earned any major trophies or league championships during his playing career, he was one of the most respected, feared and well-liked players in the league, popular with fans and his fellow peers. When Dutton retired from playing in 1936, he immediately turned his sights to an executive role with the Americans, coaching them for several seasons. Unfortunately, the franchise couldn’t survive the draining effects of the Second World War on its roster and the team folded in 1942. With the sudden death of NHL president Frank Calder in 1943, Dutton accepted the league’s request to take over the presidency of the league, a post he would hold for five years. Dutton was a highly successful businessman, at one point presiding over the Calgary Stampeders of the Canadian Football League. Dutton would be elected to the Hall of Fame in 1958, named to the Order of Canada in 1981, and passed away in Calgary in 1987.

Wrapping up the members in this post is Ken Reardon. Born in Winnipeg in 1921, Reardon would have a short but remarkable career in the NHL. Reardon was known for his physical and aggressive style of play, someone who wouldn’t hesitate to drop the gloves if the situation called for it. He began his playing career with the Canadiens in 1940 and retired as a player in 1950. He would win one Stanley Cup with the Canadiens as a player in 1945.

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Ken Reardon

He was forced to retire at the young age of 30 due to the toll his physical style of play took on his body. He was known for playing through injuries, despite the protests from team doctors. He only played seven seasons in those ten years, after enlisting and serving overseas during the Second World War. During his deployment, he would win several medals for bravery and distinguished service. After his playing career was over, Reardon would become an executive with the Canadiens first as an assistant manager, then as the teams vice president. During his time in the front office, the team would win five Stanley Cups. Reardon finished his hockey life with six Stanley Cups and six All-Star selections. He would be inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1966, and passed away in 2008.

Stay tuned for more bios and stories coming soon.

From Hay Bales to the Hall of Fame (part 1)

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The view of the ceiling in the Esso Great Hall at the Hockey Hall of Fame, originally built as a Bank of Montreal in 1885.

Friday marked a sad day for hockey historians and fans here in the keystone province. Hall of Famer Andy Bathgate, longtime captain of the New York Rangers, Stanley Cup champion and Hart Trophy winner (M.V.P.) passed away yesterday at age 83. Born in Winnipeg during the height of the great depression (1932), Bathgate would play for 17 seasons (1953-71) and was involved in one of the more famous incidents in hockey history. In November of 1959 the Rangers were playing the Canadiens when 3 minutes into the game, Bathgate fired a wrist shot that caught Canadiens goalie (and HOF’er) Jaques Plante squarely in the nose. After Plante refused to return to the game unless head coach Toe Blake permitted him to wear a new protective device over his injured face, the netminder became the first goaltender to regularly use a mask during play, thus changing the game forever.

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Andy Bathgate of the Rangers with stick and number 33.

 

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Jaques Plante, pictured with the mask he donned for the first time that night.

 

 

While Bathgate’s storied career was so much more than one simple regular season game, it just goes to show Manitoba’s long tradition in the professional league. There are many more young prairie boys who would go onto distinguish themselves in the NHL, and although some may be better known than others, they all deserve to be remembered. So, with that in mind, heres a brief look at each Manitoba-born honoured member of the Hockey Hall of Fame (not in any particular order).

Keeping with the goalie theme, it would be impossible not to begin this conversation with Terry Sawchuk (1950-70). Winner of four Vezina trophies (top goalie), the Calder trophy (rookie of the year) and four Stanley Cups, the East Kildonan product passed away prematurely at the age of 40, after complications from liver surgery. He was injured while roughhousing (or fighting) with his teammate and roommate with the Rangers  Ron Stewart. Speaking of masks, one of my favourite (and most famous) photos from that period of the NHL was a shoot from Life magazine that showed the multiple scars he had amassed from playing net in an era before Plante’s mask revolutionized the game. It’s a strangely beautiful photo, and one that sticks in the mind. On a more personal note, Sawchuck was an adolescent friend of my grandmother and she often reminisced about his quiet and unassuming demeanour.

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Sawchuk, Life Magazine (1966). A makeup artist accentuated his scars to help them stand out for the photo, but the damage is all real.
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A family photo of Sawchuk taken in the 40’s while he was a first baseman for the Elmwood Giants

The next name on this list should definitely be Bobby Clarke (1970-84). Born in Flin Flon in 1949, the former Flin Flon Bomber, Philadelphia Flyers captain and most despised member of the Canada ’72 Summit Series team is probably best known in the sports world for his nearly toothless grin. In hockey circles, the no-nonsense forward was know for his tenacity, tireless work-ethic, and a win-at-all-costs mentality. His gruff demeanour endeared him to Flyer fans, but grew wearisome for the franchise after a long stint in the front office. After his playing career was over, he immediately became the GM of the team, a post he would hold for 19 years with Philadelphia. During that time, he is most famous for the very public feud he had with Eric Lindros and the team’s handling of his concussion injuries. Although the bad blood was evident at the time, Clarke has since endorsed Lindros publicly for the latter’s induction to the Hall of Fame. Among the trophies in Clarke’s hardware case are two Stanley Cups, three Hart trophies, a Frank J. Selke trophya Masterton trophy, a Pearson (Ted Lindsay award), and eight All-Star selections.

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Bobby Clarke (right) with Flyers goalie Bernie Parent after their Stanley Cup win in 1974
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A photo I took (2007) from the Whitney Forum in Flin Flon, home to the Flin Flon Bombers.

As I’m writing this for a deadline, I need to cut it off here, but over the next few days I’ll continue to post the rest of the 17 Manitoba-born members of the HOF, plus a few current players who are shoe-ins, and some who deserve honourable mention. There are some amazing stories, colourful characters and future legends of the game to discuss, so please stay tuned.

Festival du Voyageur

This past Friday, men of all shapes and sizes, styles and substance, gathered to see which among them had the facial fortitude to capture the title of greatest and most magnificent beard of the year. The competition was ferocious as the men bared their whiskers, dignity, and their very souls in front of a raucous, leather-lunged crowd who were evidently obsessed with the gargantuan displays of lip foliage. There were several categories for the incredibly brave men to challenge, each fraught with danger and peril but if victorious, they would be bathed in honour and glory for an entire year, celebrated among aficionados of crumb catchers everywhere, and who’s memories will be forever etched in the minds of those who bore witness to their bravery, courage, and daring. Long will their legends live among the great men of our times!

 

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Contestants in the 2106 Festival Du Voyageur beard growing competition await the judges decision./Dororshuk

 

 

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The crowd at the beard growing competition at Festival du Voyageur was as eclectic as the contestants./Doroshuk
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Contestant James Young looks pensively at the host of the beard growing competition, Gabriel Gosselin

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The judges scrutinize the contestants carefully at the beard growing competition./ Doroshuk
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the judges test for thickness, length, style, crumbs, small animal nests, and tensile strength./ Doroshuk

 

Passion or Playing to the Crowd?


I love Paul Maurice. The Winnipeg Jets coach is a class act, candid and professional at all times. Thursday night in a game in Tampa, a questionable hit against a star player caused the coach to go absolutely ballistic, and rightfully so. From time to time, it’s understandable that the officials need to be reminded of a team’s displeasure with a call or series of calls. Sometimes a harsh rebuke must take the place of a calm discussion.

It’s nice to see a certain level of passion from the bench boss, it serves as a visual and psychological reminder for both the team and everyone watching that the coach is just as invested as the players are. While a quick tongue lashing from a coach is understandable, there is a certain threshold that shouldn’t be crossed. Maurice was ejected because referee Francois St. Laurent didn’t appreciate the adjectives the coach used to describe him. Fair enough, although one would think that NHL referees would have thicker skin than that. But at the end of the day, it was simply a coach who had suffered enough perceived incompetence from the officials, and wanted to make the men in stripes acutely aware of said incompetence.

Critics are quick to judge Maurice because he was ejected. I think it’s nice to see  his passion on full display. Whatever you may think, he never did cross the line between sticking up for his players and trying to embarrass the officials, a line which many coaches have trampled upon. Case in point: Tom Webster, former coach of the Los Angeles Kings (89-92).

During a game between the Kings and Red Wings in ’91, Webster became so incensed with non-calls made by head official (and scourge of Leafs nation) Kerry Fraser that he grabbed a stick off the bench and threw it javelin-style at the ref, striking him in the skate. He got a 12 game suspension for that tantrum, but it wasn’t the first time his antics earned him a suspension. In a game between the Kings and Flames earlier that year, there was an altercation between the two teams at the bench in which Webster punched Flames forward Doug Gilmour in the face, sending him (suspiciously easily perhaps) crashing to the ice. Strangely, he only got 4 games for that one. While it just goes to show how insane the league used to be, it would be unthinkable for a coach to do that today.

How about former Devils coach Jim Schoenfeld, who famously chased veteran official Don Koharski down the tunnel after a playoff game, verbally abusing him the entire way. The whole scene was caught on camera, and resulted in Koharski ‘earning’ the nickname Don ‘pass the doughnuts’ Koharski for the rest of his career.

Or perhaps the curious case of ‘Iron Mike’ Keenan, a coach with such a sour disposition that most of his players hated his guts. Former Jets 1.0 player Dave Manson was often the recipient of tirades from the coach during his tenure with the Blackhawks, and eventually snapped in spectacular fashion, chasing him through the halls of the old Chicago Stadium durin an intermission. But the ultimate display of Keenan’s wrath came during a game between the Bruins and Blackhawks in ’90. After a goal was disallowed, Keenan hopped on the ice and tried to attack the timekeeper. You know when enforcer Stu ‘the grim reaper’ Grimson is holding you back, you may have gone too far.

There are many instances of coaches trying to fight each other, Patrick Roy vs. Bruce Boudreau, Pat Burns vs Barry Melrose and John Tortorella vs. the entire Flames organization. There is even a case of former Leafs bench boss John Brophy abusing his own players during a practice in the guise of toughening them up.

So at the end of the day, you can’t really fault Maurice for showing some passion. Clearly he’s on the right side of the line.

In the Blink of an Eye

This past week, the NHL handed Calgary Flames defenceman Dennis Wideman a 20 game suspension for deliberately cross-checking linesman Don Henderson. It came as no surprise to anyone in the hockey world the suspension would be steep. After watching the video seemingly hundreds of times over the last 10 days, it’s pretty clear that the intent was there and there really isn’t any other way to explain it. It certainly didn’t help matters that Wideman, after drilling the veteran official and making his way to his bench, simply sat there peeling tape off his stick as the linesman was lying injured and prone a few feet in front of him.

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One would think that a player who had injured an official unintentionally, would certainly make his way over to check on the guy and perhaps let him know that it was an accident. Not so in this case, so actions and body language say a lot in this particular incident. His guilt in the matter was made even more palpable during his press conference where he apologized to Henderson, but ultimately showed little in the way of contrition. The odd thing is that this is completely out of character for Wideman, a player with less than 500 penalty minutes in over 750 games.

The fact of the matter is that officials and players enjoy a special relationship that most people don’t really see. While many fans can be accused of blaming officials for their team’s misery, the men in stripes do everything in their power to remain impartial and fair. There is an unspoken bond between the players and the stripes, and for the most part players look at the referees and linesman with respect.

Hockey is a fast-paced game where decisions need to be made in milliseconds, leaving little room for second guessing or lengthy analysis. We get the benefit (or in Wideman’s case, the detriment) of replays, and its easy to play armchair official from the comfort of your own home. But regardless of the context, there is never ever any reason or excusable instance where striking or otherwise abusing an on-ice official is understandable. It will never be condoned by the league. There are many varying stances on the Wideman suspension, with some calling it an accident, and others saying he must have been concussed from a play a few seconds before the collision. I think the league got this exactly right, and I hope that it will serve as an example to every other player in the NHL.