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Bruce Dowbiggin

Dramatic? Yes. But 1972 Was Not The Greatest Hockey Ever

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One of the advantages of being alive for an extended period is how you develop a filter for propaganda. Experiencing seminal sports events in real time affords the ability to separate hype from history. Perhaps the greatest sports events for Canadians of a certain age were those in September 1972, when— as a first-year student at U of Toronto— we cut classes to watch the national mental trauma of The Showdown Series.

Even 50 years after the emotional tumult of Canada/USSR, it’s fair to say that it was a drama unlike any other. It legitimized International hockey competition. In an age when a 36-inch TV was a luxury, hockey sticks were made of wood and Foster Hewitt was still semi-coherent the eight-game matchup between Canada’s top NHL stars and the “amateurs” of the Soviet Union delivered as a clash of cultures. Many who weren’t there call it the greatest hockey ever played.

The greatest hockey ever? Certainly the Soviets played their best. But the Slap Shot quality of Canada’s winning effort could not hold a candle to the 1987 Canada Cup squad that beat a Soviet team in a three-game final as the USSR was collapsing. Without Bobby Orr, Bobby Hull and Gerry Cheevers in the 1972 lineup— and lulled into complacency by homer media— Team Canada squandered its obvious advantages by arriving out of shape for Game 1.

Neither were they prepared mentally for the political consequences of eight games on two continents over 26 days in September. How high were tempers and how damning the criticism? The late Rod Gilbert’s own brother called him “a disgrace” after Canada suffered an embarrassing 7-3 defeat in the opener. While time has soothed frayed tempers the Summit Series was not Canada at its best psychologically. To be blunt, Canada’s top stars were their often own worst enemies when adversity appeared.

That’s been largely forgotten today as fans smooth out the team’s rough edges. Perhaps the best example of revisionism was Phil Esposito’s pouting, whiny screed after Canada lost Game 4 in Vancouver. Espo was pure entitlement, demanding that fans ignore the ill-tempered, slap-dash attitude of their heroes. While sycophantic journalists have re-fashioned the Johnny Esaw interview as a call to arms, it was more like a put-upon call to Canadians for pity.

Almost as egregious was the deliberate injuring of Soviet star Valeri Kharlamov, the speedy winger (think Pavel Bure) who had destroyed Canada with his skill. And so Bobby Clarke went full Ogie Ogelthorpe, breaking Kharlamov’s ankle in Game 6 with a cynical slash. Kharlamov tried to continue, but he was done as a factor in the remaining games. (Years later series star Paul Henderson admitted, “I really don’t think any part of that should ever be in the game.”

Then there was the late Jean Paul Parisé’s intimidating assault on controversial referee Josef Kompalla in Game 8. Frustrated about calls in the final game, Parisé charged at Kompalla with his stick raised. Just before he brought the stick down on Kompalla he pulled back. Parisé was ejected, but it proved an ugly moment mitigated only by Henderson’s later heroics.

To say nothing of Alan Eagleson’s obstreperous behaviour skittering across the ice with a raised finger after reportedly escaping the KGB. He was matched by Bill Goldsworthy’s raised finger at Game 8’s end. Espo’s repeated “choke” signs at bemused Soviets. Or the four Canadian players who jumped ship before the series switched to Moscow. It was high drama. The greatest hockey? No.

Thanks to Canada’s globalist PM Pierre Trudeau, Canada was looking to break its image as an imperial chattel of Great Britain. The series was a springboard to that for many. But Canada had to win. My friend Bob Lewis, who covered the series for Time magazine, is excellent in the Icebreaker documentary at presenting the trauma for a vulnerable Canada. The country headed for a federal election in October wondering how a defeat might hurt Trudeau’s chances. (The win didn’t keep Trudeau from losing his majority.)

The 50th anniversary, like previous anniversaries of the 1972 series,  has produced documentaries and films reliving the moments with surviving players and journalists who were there in the flesh. While neither CBC’s four-part series Summit 1972 nor Icebreaker: The ‘72 Canada Soviet Summit Series breaks any new ground on the Cold War climate, they do serve as a reminder to anyone born after the Series of the cultural impact of the showdown with a feared nuclear rival. And it uses the latest technology to clean up video and audio that was being lost to time.

The principal difference between the two productions— besides length— is the scoreboard of which players on the two teams appear in each documentary. Who gets Ken Dryden? Who nails down Phil Esposito? Who gets Vladislav Tretiak? The greatest impression is the age of the surviving men now (10 Team Canada members have passed away) who look more like WW II vets than hockey heroes.

Sadly, the producers of Icebreaker also include extensive interviews with convicted felon Alan Eagleson, who stole the glory from Joe Krycka and Fred Page of the Canadian Amateur Hockey Association who originally negotiated the series. The corrupt Toronto lawyer then pushed them aside in his position as player agent and NHL Players Association director. Yes, he was part of the series, but allowing him to restore his integrity via a starring role in this documentary makes for tough watching.

So for those beleaguered by a modern world, the 1972 retellings will be a balm with a happy ending— like when Esposito met noted USSR hockey fan and cold-blooded dictator Vladimir Putin years later. “Mr. Esposito, I thought you hated all Russians,” Putin remarked. “Mr. Putin, I did until my daughter married one,” Esposito replied.

For others it might fill in the stories told by now-deceased relatives and friends who saw it all. And for aging Boomers, whose proxy was carried by Team Canada 1972, the throwback will be a reminder that something of worth more than bell bottoms and sideburns emerged from their glory days.

Bruce Dowbiggin @dowbboy is the editor of Not The Public Broadcaster (http://www.notthepublicbroadcaster.com). A two-time winner of the Gemini Award as Canada’s top television sports broadcaster, he’s a regular contributor to Sirius XM Canada Talks Ch. 167. Inexact Science: The Six Most Compelling Draft YearsIn NHL History, , his new book with his son Evan, was voted the eighth best professional hockey book of by bookauthority.org . His 2004 book Money Players was voted seventh best, and is available via http://brucedowbigginbooks.ca/book-personalaccount.aspx

BRUCE DOWBIGGIN Award-winning Author and Broadcaster Bruce Dowbiggin's career is unmatched in Canada for its diversity and breadth of experience . He is currently the editor and publisher of Not The Public Broadcaster website and is also a contributor to SiriusXM Canada Talks. His new book Cap In Hand was released in the fall of 2018. Bruce's career has included successful stints in television, radio and print. A two-time winner of the Gemini Award as Canada's top television sports broadcaster for his work with CBC-TV, Mr. Dowbiggin is also the best-selling author of "Money Players" (finalist for the 2004 National Business Book Award) and two new books-- Ice Storm: The Rise and Fall of the Greatest Vancouver Canucks Team Ever for Greystone Press and Grant Fuhr: Portrait of a Champion for Random House. His ground-breaking investigations into the life and times of Alan Eagleson led to his selection as the winner of the Gemini for Canada's top sportscaster in 1993 and again in 1996. This work earned him the reputation as one of Canada's top investigative journalists in any field. He was a featured columnist for the Calgary Herald (1998-2009) and the Globe & Mail (2009-2013) where his incisive style and wit on sports media and business won him many readers.

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Bruce Dowbiggin

No More Teachers, No More Books: Education’s Demographic Crash

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We come bearing good news and bad news. First the bad news. The steep decline in the North American birthrate since the 2008 global recession will have a significant impact on the future of K-12 and post-secondary education. The two-decade delay in demographics dating to 2008 means society is entering a fallow period that will require fewer schools, fewer teachers, fewer administrators.

Already, funding to bricks-and-mortar schools has taken a hit during Covid-19. More and more learning is going online with subsequent loss in teaching jobs for PhDs and TAs— especially in the liberal arts. According to Kevin Carey in Vox “colleges have likely hit a ceiling in terms of how many 18-year-olds they can coax onto campus. The percentage of young adults with a high school diploma has reached 94 percent. “

Additionally, the demographic shifts away from non-urban areas will unbalance the learning curve outside the Beltway or southern Ontario. In four years, the number of students graduating from high schools across the country will begin a sudden and precipitous decline, due to a rolling demographic aftershock of the Great Recession.

For those not acquainted with demographics, the next act in this play is inevitable. Says Carey, “The 2008 global financial calamity also created a bomb with an 18-year fuse: Birth rates immediately reversed course and began to plummet. From the early 1970s until 2007, the number of annual births per 1,000 women ages 15 to 44 stayed between roughly 65 and 70. 

“Starting in 2008, the ratio went down, down, down, to 56 in 2020, the lowest rate in American history. There were 4.3 million births in 2007; last year, there were 3.7 million.” (The slide is about the same in Canada.)

Now calculate the rate of abortions, suicides and assisted deaths into the future of plunging birthrates, and you will see the problem facing many ultra-liberal schools. So now we can extend David Foot’s demographics book title to “Boom, Bust, Echo & Silence”.

The good news is that these hives of progressive education are going to see their pernicious influence decline commensurately. While elite schools with huge endowments might adjust, the rest of the education chain will be hard-pressed to stay open, let alone compete. So the suffocating effect of their radicalism will decline as well.

The satisfaction with seeing Woke idiocy drop will be partially offset by the increasing role of governments— using the tools developed in colleges and universities— to control learning, research and publication. Bill C-11 and C-18 are just two Canadian examples of stifling competition in the information scheme.

Which leaves us with the corrosive legacy of modern educations’s dance with death. As Heather Mac donald describes in her book “The Diversity Delusion: How Race and Gender Pandering Corrupt the University and Undermine Our Culture,” spineless administrators and politicians have allowed schools to be mobbed by the outer fringes of radical thinking. With the goal of suppressing contrary speech.

Says journalist Matt Taibbi, ‘Americans who once venerated self-reliance are building a church of conformity, whose chief means of worship is destroying heretics’”. As we wrote earlier this week “The CBS journalists who have long  praised Edward R. Murrow’s 1950s defiance of the McCarthy hearings  are now all-in with authority. 

As such, the curriculum has morphed from questioners of authority to adherents to a globalist catechism. Most parents blissfully slept through these changes. For example, here are things you never hear from the guilt factories or the governments who follow their diktats.

  1. North America whites should gladly accept a total cultural transformation brought on by unchecked immigration. But it’s okay for Japan, China, Pakistan, Russia and many other nations to protect their cultures by severely limiting immigration that might dilute centuries-old cultures.

  2. We hear extensive discussion about reparations for the families of African American slaves. We never heart of any comparable compensation to the families of the 360,222 Union soldiers who died in the service of ending that slavery.

  3. While ESG prophets and the U.S. Justice department are vigilantly attempting to end meritocracy—changing equal opportunity to equal outcome— no one seems especially bothered that the NFL and NBA are well over 75% black while their number in the real population in 12-13%.

  4. Society must help upper-middle-class graduates of post-secondary education by wiping out the tuition debts they ran up. No one in authority seems to feel the same way about those whose plumbing or electrical apprenticeships cost them many thousands of dollars, too.

  5. All women must be believed. Unless they’re CPC member Melissa Lastman or Democrat defector Tulsi Gabbard. Then they’re a mountain of lies.

  6. Universities have forgiven Germany and Japan for the unspeakable crimes they committed 75 years ago. But there is no forgiveness for the events of 160 years ago in America.

  7. Universities are allegedly oppressors of women, dens of rape and sexual aggression. But nearly 70 percent of current liberal arts programs are women.

These are but a few of the educational pieties that seem of no interest to the first writers of history, a.k.a. establishment journalists. If they were to look, here’s what Carey says they’ll find: “The empty factories and abandoned shopping malls littering the American landscape may soon be joined by ghost colleges, victims of an existential struggle for reinvention, waged against a ticking clock of shrinking student bodies, coming soon to a town near you.”

Sign up today for Not The Public Broadcaster newsletters. Hot takes/ cool slants on sports and current affairs. Have the latest columns delivered to your mail box. Tell your friends to join, too. Always provocative, always independent. 

Bruce Dowbiggin @dowbboy is the editor of Not The Public Broadcaster  A two-time winner of the Gemini Award as Canada’s top television sports broadcaster, he’s a regular contributor to Sirius XM Canada Talks Ch. 167. Inexact Science: The Six Most Compelling Draft Years In NHL History, his new book with his son Evan, was voted the seventh-best professional hockey book of all time by bookauthority.org . His 2004 book Money Players was voted sixth best on the same list, and is available via http://brucedowbigginbooks.ca/book-personalaccount.aspx

 

 

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Bruce Dowbiggin

The Unhinged Plan To Destroy Elon Musk & Twitter

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We know that many of you hate betting content on sports TV. This weekend’s Grey Cup broadcast bristled with wagering talk. Puritans just couldn’t wrap their heads around the presence of lines, sides and parlays on the broadcasts of their favourite CFL teams. And the spares who are pitching it all.

Fair enough. It ain’t your grandfather’s CFL broadcast. But betting is here to stay. If you’re looking for something to blame then stick a pin in Twitter. The “worldwide web” took gambling from barber shops, speak-easys and back alleys to a giant presence across North American sports.

When the gambling dam broke, wagering went from a bad habit to the sports version of day trading. The sexy new thing. And the money rolled in. Casinos and betting sites are spreading that money across social media and broadcasters.

The tide of this money has raised all boats. How high has the revenue river risen? An NFL franchise (Denver) is now worth $4 billion. TV networks and players like Amazon will pay almost anything for a piece of the league’s broadcast/ digital pie. (It’s a similar but less pricey scene in other leagues.) Twitter helped do that.

So it is fascinating to see the debate about cratering Twitter since it was purchased by Elon Musk. A cursory glance at the wildly popular site this weekend showed an alliance of Woke scolds and entertainment industry preeners ready to wreck the world’s largest marketplace of chatter, because they don’t want to hear anything that challenges their world view.

Or contradicts the Church of Rachel Maddow on (choose any) Trump, abortion, climate, Afghanistan, racism, Trump, trans dysphoria, inflation, voting integrity, guns, Trump, Hunter Biden, electric cars, veganism, CO2, Trump, white privilege, SGM, polar bears, FBI, Dreamers, ballot harvesting and… Trump.

Imagine a betting site that banned the contrarian tips of a legendary character. That only allowed discussion of taking overs not unders on sports bets. Or banned teaser talk. That’s today’s Twitter.  @kylenabecker “They demand complete cultural hegemony. Anything that gets in the way of that must be destroyed.”

The progressive scolds who’ve controlled the spread of opinions on Twitter since the Obama administration of social justice now want to abandon the site because Musk had the wacky idea of allowing a former president back on the site. This after conducting an informal poll about reinstating The King of Mara Lago.

Even people you’d thought sane about the new tech have lost their marbles over the prospect of hearing things they find vexing. Here’s NBA owner Mark Cuban  @mcuban The greatest challenge Twitter has is making users feel safe. Safe that they won’t be abused by users on the platform. Safe that tweets won’t lead to action off the platform that hurt people. I think this is the element that @elonmusk is missing that current AI can’t protect.

By safe Mark must mean from the Ayatollahs who promise death to Israel or Nancy Pelosi’s daughter Christine who tweeted “the neighbour was right” after senator Rand Paul was savagely beaten by a neighbour? No? They’re still on Twitter after the Babylon Bee was silenced? Wow.

Here’s another sample of a Madame Defrage as she reaches for her pitchfork. “@shannoncoulter Just emailed the head of safety at Apple and Google respectively to ask if their app stores will continue to carry the Twitter app now that Elon Musk has reinstated Donald Trump.” Because Hitler. Or something. From a church lady who advertises cats on her site.

It’s more than individuals who’ve taken the “safe space” mantra to next lengths. This weekend CBS News— which gleefully printed all the Russiagate lies and fake Ukrainian impeachment hoax—decided it was just too raffiné to dip its toe into the Musk version of Twitter after its entitled staff began quitting in protest.

Reporter Jonathan Vigliotti provided CBCS’ rationale. ”In light of the uncertainty around Twitter, and out of an abundance of caution, CBS News is pausing its activity on the social media site as it continues to monitor the platform.”

An abundance of caution from people who banned the 2020 Hunter Biden laptop story because there was an election in three weeks and his Dad might lose to Trump? Sure. The Walter Cronkite network was ripped for erring on the side of censorship, one writer saying the decision was “so stupid it makes my head hurt”.

Prompting a doubleback on Sunday. “After pausing for much of the weekend to assess the security concerns, CBS News and Stations is resuming its activity on Twitter as we continue to monitor the situation.” Their entitled vanity could choke a mule.

The CBS journalists who have long praised Edward R. Murrow’s 1950s defiance of the McCarthy hearings are now all-in with authority. Says journalist Matt Taibbi, “Americans who once venerated self-reliance are building a church of conformity, whose chief means of worship is destroying heretics”. 

Making the charade even more risible is the new role of Musk as evil incarnate for buying Twitter, turfing a large portion of its useless, self-absorbed employees and restoring a semblance of balance to the site.  From hero of youth culture the Tesla pioneer has become an evil that must be burned at the stake lest he remove the blue-check bias of the site.  Not that he’s intimidated. https://twitter.com/JoshuaPHilll/status/1594512374408810496

What is clear from this convulsion of fear is that the fire of safe spaces— segregated convocations, banning of speakers, crushing of businesses— that took root in academia has now jumped the fire line into the public where it is now burning every corner of free speech.

It bristles with its new power. Says Taibbi: “The math isn’t hard: if the DHS or the NSC can do this to the world’s richest man, they can do it to anyone, making this story into a test case to see what the new censorship regime can get away with.” There’s hope. When you hear Joe Biden say it is “worth looking into” whether Musk is a “national security threat” due to his “cooperations” and “relationships” with other countries, you know that the censors are nervous he’ll succeed.

Let’s give them something to really be nervous about. Keep tweeting. Pay the $8 fee.

Sign up today for Not The Public Broadcaster newsletters. Hot takes/ cool slants on sports and current affairs. Have the latest columns delivered to your mail box. Tell your friends to join, too. Always provocative, always independent.  https://share.hsforms.com/16edbhhC3TTKg6jAaRyP7rActsj5

Bruce Dowbiggin @dowbboy is the editor of Not The Public Broadcaster  A two-time winner of the Gemini Award as Canada’s top television sports broadcaster, he’s a regular contributor to Sirius XM Canada Talks Ch. 167. Inexact Science: The Six Most Compelling Draft Years In NHL History, his new book with his son Evan, was voted the seventh-best professional hockey book of all time by bookauthority.org . His 2004 book Money Players was voted sixth best on the same list, and is available via http://brucedowbigginbooks.ca/book-personalaccount.aspx

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