I feel I write these too often, so in the spirit of fairness it should go mentioned that there was a lot of great action on the ice this holiday weekend, such as the Rangers solidifying their spot in the NHL’s aristocracy with a 7-4 win over the Bruins, or the Sabres managing just 11 shots on Saturday night against the Devils (my boss is currently stripping the “Hockey Expert” label off my desk. Yes, I have one. You are what you manifest).
Ok, now that’s out of the way, it was also a weekend where the NHL also showed everyone its ass, a habit it can’t seem to get out of.
On Friday, the man generally agreed as the nicest and most well-liked in the NHL, Marc-Andre Fleury, wanted to wear a Native American Heritage Night-themed mask. Fleury’s wife is Native Canadian, and he had a mask designed by a Native American artist, Cole Redhors Taylor.
This being the NHL, and somehow still terrified of about 1 percent of its players last year refusing to wear Pride jerseys for warm-ups, and still beholding to at least the perception of whatever percentage of its fanbase are still Don Cherry-acolytes, said he couldn’t. Fleury did anyway, and the league isn’t going to punish him or the Wild.
We’ve gone down this road enough times to skip most of it. About how the league is looking in the wrong direction when it comes to the fans it wants to cater to, how the sport is far too beholden to a The-Room-Is-Sacred ethos that keeps it trailing behind, etc.
But the league’s strategy of not officially endorsing any outward show of support for minorities or oppressed groups while also making it clear that it won’t punish players like Fleury or Travis Dermott for wearing Pride Tape on his stick is starting to feel intentional. The league does not want the blowback from the angriest men in the world (you know who they are) by officially endorsing any themed jerseys or gear, trying to avoid the “Woke Is Broke” label. While at the same time, it still wants the sheen from any player who actually takes the step of defying this clarion call of the bigoted and stupid by also not punishing them. Most fans have said players should “dare” the league to take on the publicity of fining them for showing empathy and support to those who need it and to those who have rarely felt welcome in the hockey world. It’s starting to feel like the league wants its players to “dare” it to as well, so it can sit on two chairs at once.
Fleury and Dermott have been through the wall already, hopefully sparking more players to do so as the season goes on. Should the league continue to turn down any opportunity to fine players for violating rules it seemingly made a big deal out of before the summer, we’ll know what it is they’re really playing at.
Jacob Trouba’s assault with a deadly weapon
-Meanwhile, to on-ice action, the Rangers’ Jacob Trouba–who’s been under the impression he’s playing Rollerball for a few years now – got merely a $5k fine for this:
Yes, that’s assault with a deadly weapon. It’s also not all that far removed from when Duncan Keith got a six-game suspension for this, including a playoff game:
Keith’s suspension was a joke then, making the barely lifting of an arm to wave Trouba’s attack on Frederic something beyond farce. But it was Thanksgiving weekend while Ohio State-Michigan was on, so no one was really looking.
More grossness from NFL fans
Don’t worry, it was a normal one for NFL fans as well:
This guy actually got into the building. Let’s all think about that.
A little goalkeeping magic to close . . .
It’s rare that a goalkeeper can stand on his head and single-handedly propel his team to a victory like they can in hockey. Maxime Crepeau, fitting that it should be a Canadian, was able to pull that off on Sunday night to knock Seattle on their ass and send LAFC to the Western Conference Final again:
Sometimes, the bear eats you.
Follow Sam on Twitter @Felsgate and on Bluesky @felsgate.bsky.social
Original source here
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