Graphic Comments: #pleaselikemysport

For the second time this week, Pierre Lebrun has whitewashed the NHL’s image in light of the arrests, convictions and criminal investigations of a number of its players.

The first time he was writing about the LA Kings specifically, and then today a more general piece on the NHL and NHLPA’s plans to provide more education to players, presumably, on how to behave like decent human beings.

But the problem I have with both of these pieces is the lengths he goes to tells us that the NHL is different from those other sports. These are just “disconnected arrests or incidents” according to Lebrun.

Indeed, they are. But is he suggesting that the incidents plaguing the NFL, for example, are connected?

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Why does the NFL get a bad rap, while the NHL remains “accustomed to a clean image”?

What if instead of Richards, Voynov and Patrick Kane we were talking about Ho-Sang, Subban and Evander Kane?

The point is this: there is nothing about a professional hockey player that makes them immune to the effects of growing up too rich, too fast in a testosterone-fueled environment, surrounded by adoring fans. So stop pretending there is, and stop saying things like this:

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For a sport so accustomed to a clean image, the past 12 months have been a tough pill to swallow for the NHL and its players.

Suddenly, hockey is sharing some of the same dubious headlines normally reserved for other sports and leagues.

Because I’m not sure how you can think dubious headlines are reserved for other sports unless you’ve already forgotten about names like (off the top of my head and in no particular order) MacTavish, Heatley, McSorley, Bertuzzi, Roy, Varlamov, Ribeiro, Doughty, Belfour, Lindros, Stoll, Malone…

So if you really think there is a difference between professional hockey players and professional football players, for example, then go ahead ask yourself why you believe that to be the case.

As an aside, I also can’t quite let that first sentence in Lebrun’s column today go without commenting on “tough pill to swallow.” Like really? Did we already forget why Mike Richards was arrested? I almost fell out of my chair when I read that.

It’s not like it shouldn’t have been top of mind considering he just wrote about the Kings’ legal troubles two days earlier, once again starting it off by whitewashing the league:

The NHL is not accustomed to headlines involving arrests and court dates.

That’s normally for other sports leagues.

It is surreal that the Los Angeles Kings have had three separate off-ice incidents over the past 12 months considering the tight-knit, family fabric that the organization made its bones on while winning a pair of Stanley Cups.

But despite the arrests of Slava Voynov, Jarret Stoll and Mike Richards in separate incidents, the Kings very much intend to remain a family-type team.

You know who else likes to maintain a tight-knit, family organization:


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And for good measure, he uses the phrase “making your bones“, which is a term actually used in the mafia for performing your first contract killing and becoming a “made man”. You can’t make this stuff up, folks.

At this point, I think Lebrun might just be trolling us.

But I do want to go back to today’s column, because it included a quote for Tyler Seguin that was making the rounds all day:

“You have to be so careful of other people,” Seguin said this week. “It’s changing to the point of where it was cool to see a celebrity athlete out, to ‘How can I get money?’ or ‘How can I hurt this person?’ It’s sad. It started in the other leagues, now it’s coming to our league.”

This is, at best, showing a complete lack of awareness about what has been going on with the Ribeiro lawsuit and the Patrick Kane investigation, and at worst, a callous disregard for what the victims of sexual assault have to go through.

Either way there is absolutely no thought given to how the “celebrity athlete” himself his behaving. It’s all about what is being done to him. There is zero consideration for the “other people” and how athletes might be affecting them. Zero.

If one thing has become clear over the last couple of months it’s that Tyler Seguin should use his mouth less and Jamie Benn should use it more:

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And really, my advice to Seguin, the rest of the NHL and the media that covers it, is the same as my advice to Benn: get over yourself and think about the other person. Maybe then there’ll be a happy ending for all involved.


You can also check out the monthly collections of Graphic Comments over at The Sporting News.

  • Well said, all of it. The dig at Benn is particularly good…

    It’s too bad all the dumb race stuff didn’t land us Evander Kane, who will make the Jets rue the day they ran him out of town patrolling the wing on that loaded Sabres team.

  • wojohowitz

    There is one distinction that should be made about Mike Richards that the media has not made. He was arrested for possession of oxycodone which is a pain killer and not a recreational drug. If the man is addicted to painkillers then he needs help – not condemnation.

    • Although oxycodoneis a painkiller, it has joined the ranks of recreational drugs. Perhaps Richards needed it for pain at first, but decided he liked the high, of maybe he simply became addicted after using it for the pain. The only person who knows the truth is Richards.

    • Vanoxy

      Oxy is very much a recreational drug.

      It is almost identical to heroin, but considered a cleaner alternative, so people with money prefer it over the street level stuff.

      Also, for someone in the public eye, oxy is easier to explain than being caught with a bag of “Mr Brownstone”.

      Nobody knows what Richards uses it for. My guess is probably a combo of pain relief and some fun side effects. Either way I hope he gets help. I have a relative who started on the stuff for a chronic injury, and started abusing. It’s every bit as tough to kick as hard street drugs.

      • Orpo

        In my opinion having an addiction is enough of a qualification for being deserving of help, regardless of the substance or activity. RX painkillers and crack both can ruin lives. Tthe difference is usually one of social class and access to funds.

    • ikillchicken

      Yeah, I’ll certainly agree that much of what this article is saying is valid. Race plays a huge role in the perception of athletes. And Seguin is a little turd. At the same time, the simple fact is that this stuff does happen vastly more in the NFL than in the NHL. The NHL has it’s share of blemishes of course but, especially if we’re talking historically ie. outside of the last year or two, it is kinda a drop in the bucket compared to the absurdity of the NFL.

      • Orville Wright

        I made my first post quickly as I was trying to watch the Youngstars tournament. My point has nothing to do with race as you mention. My point which is backed up by statistics instead of narratives, which is supposed to be the point of this site, is that in fact hockey players get in less trouble then other professional athletes especially NFL and NBA. I read the articles of Mr. Lebrun and I cannot see how you can even begin to infer race into his dialogue. The low rate of criminal charges to NHL players includes all the diversity currently in the league. An insult to them. This contributor consistently castigates individuals for using subjectivity over objectivity, yet continues with using subjectivity over objectivity. To your point I completely and subjectively agree that Tyler Seguin is a little turd.

  • Orville Wright

    What are the Jamie Benn comments that are referred to in the story? I seem to recall something mentioned on the radio this summer but I can’t find anything about it.

  • Orpo

    well ffs, since you asked, the difference between nfl players and nhl players lies within the statistics. just look: there are way more problems with nfl players than nhl players. it’s just the reality. now obviously the nhl isn’t some kind of merry-go-round full of model citizens, but the nfl is a disaster. tell me how many nhl players have been caught in a nightclub with a gun? now how many nfl players? might take you awhile to count. call it #pleaselikemysport if you want, but it is the truth. half of the nfl comes from the hood where they grew up with little education and little money, so it’s not surprising crime is more prevalent in the nfl.

  • Orpo

    Good article. Sexual violence has long been a problem in hockey culture, with many PUBLIC accusations by women against star players over the years. And then you have the warped hazing rituals in amateur hockey, many of which involve sexual humiliation. Not a healthy atmosphere for young people.

  • Orpo

    Independent of the rates, NFL teams have twice the active players as an NHL team, and the average NHL career is 50% longer.

    Even if the arrest rates were identical, over the course of the same period of time, three times as many NFL players will have been in the NFL than NHL players in the NHL.