February 09 2010 04:00PM
There is an intimate connection between Canada’s geography and environment and the characteristics of Canadian hockey players. The sorts of qualities it takes to face the rugged, mountainous climate of our land or pioneer praire farms is mirrored by those our players bring to the game – passion, toughness, allegiance to team, and most of all, humility. This stands in sometimes stark contrast to American players, where, not unlike the John Wayne ethos of that country, individuality, pretentiousness and brazenness seem to dominate.
I’m not sure what the geography is like in Livonia, Michigan, but the Canucks have an interesting and fortunate exception on their team – Ryan Kesler.
Among his hockey citizens – the likes of Kane (in whom ‘youthful’ is a euphemism for ‘disrespectful’) and Roenick (in whom ‘outspoken’ is a euphemism for ‘self-centered’) – Kesler stands free of his country’s influence.
Kesler is the sole American born player on the Canuck team, but, apart from a quick bit of research, one wouldn’t have guessed it. Whether it’s his pseudo-socialist plea (now rescinded apparently, but nevertheless mentioned aloud within the ultimate proto-capitalist environment of professional sports) that players like himself take less money in order to keep the team together, his soft-spoken manner, the modesty with which he comports himself, or the gutsy and self-sacrificial element he brings to each and every game, Kesler is a Canadian spirit through and through.
I would say the only bit of American in him is the theatricality he sometimes displays as a recipient of an infraction. Even with this though it’s hard to blame him, since it’s usually the result of hard work and a valiant sacrifice on his part – the sort of commitment and warrior effort which immediately neutralizes any negative thoughts we may have about any surplus drama.