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Bruce Dowbiggin

Tale Of The NHL Tape: A Clash of Symbols


9 minute read

Acceptance. Compliance. Submission. The three-step radical plan to change society. Even in hockey.

After a few months of doing their real jobs, sports liberals (but I repeat myself) have reverted to lecturing on their favourite trope. To wit, the NHL is anti-LGBTQ, because it decided not to play the virtue game with rainbow tape and sticks.

In this latest case the supposedly appalling oversight was forbidding players to use LGBTQ tape on their sticks in warmups to support “inclusion” in the sport. (Inclusion being the “it” word these days.) The players’ gesture makes sense. If you think about it for fewer than five seconds. Sure, the NHL wants to have gay players so it can walk with its ESG head held high.

But how do tape symbols and rainbow flag signalling change anything? We’ve had “end racism” messaging for at least a decade, and yet we are told that racism is now worse than ever. More to the point, once you’ve allowed rainbow tape what happens when Christian players ask to use symbols in pregame that support ProLife? Or use tape that supports gun ownership or vaccine resistance?

So the league initially called a timeout on tape after first appearing to accept some virtue signalling. Which seems prudent after the NFL and many other Woke businesses surrendered billions to BLM, only to see the recipients of that money going in pro-Hamas marches and demonstrations. Not good.

The league apparently thought about the Kaepernick experience and decided not to be a post-it note for causes of all stripes. If players want to exhibit their LGBTQ bonafides they have the NHL’s backing to do so on their own platforms. Fill yer’ skates. After all, a player himself cannot sell space on his uniform or playing equipment. Those are the league’s to control.

But after pushback from media (their ESPN partners are full-blown Woke crusaders) the league has now backtracked— again. Players will be able to use tape and sticks to promote personal causes. No word which causes the league approves, but you can bet ProLife, anti-vixx and the U.S. Second Amendment are not in the list.

The shakedown reminded us of the classic 1987 Seinfeld episode “The Sponge”. In it, Kramer is harassed by AIDS Walk organizers for refusing to wear a ribbon as he walks in the event.

“VOLUNTEER: But you have to wear an AIDS ribbon.

KRAMER: I have to?


KRAMER: Yeah, see, that’s why I don’t want to.

VOLUNTEER: But everyone wears the ribbon. You must wear the ribbon!

KRAMER: You know what you are? You’re a ribbon bully (walks away).

VOLUNTEER: Hey! Hey you! Come back here! Come back here and put this on!

Kramer supports AIDS research, but he doesn’t support meaningless symbols. So some aggressive AIDS walkers eventually track him down and beat him in an alley for not going along with the mob.  Comedian and curmudgeon George Carlin summed up Kramer’s resistance: “Religion is like a pair of shoes…..Find one that fits for you, but don’t make me wear your shoes.”  But these days you must wear the shoes of the cool kids or suffer the consequences. 

Naturally, progressives pushing their myriad causes fail to see the irony— even as they laugh at the skit. Since when was it a cultural crime that 100 percent of people don’t agree on any position? You don’t demand everyone eat meat, worship God or write with your left hand. Why do we demand unanimity on Woke catechism? But white-guilt liberals now look for any excuse for indignation.”

Since his late son Brendan came out, Brian Burke has been a constant advocate for LGBTQ acceptance. Good on him (although the movement seems to have little trouble getting its agenda trumpeted in the media without him). Last winter, he took umbrage that Christian NHLers refused to wear rainbow-coloured jerseys in warmups. Lately he’s been the rainbow-tape bandwagon, commending Travis Dermott of the Coyotes for his stealth tape job.

Others in media have been more bullish on submitting to the crowd. Sportswriter Adam Proteau scolded one recalcitrant rainbow refusnik as a “shameful human being whose religious intolerance is only going to get more shameful over the years”? It’s a popular take in the press box.

But, as we asked in January: “Fine. Then answer this: If an NHL team held a Christian night, and players were forced to wear jerseys with a crucifix, would you defend a player who opted out because of his conscience? Or would you go full Proteau and say he’s a “shameful human being whose religious intolerance is only going to get more shameful over the years”?

No one in the chattering class wants to take that on, of course. They don’t  see that rights that work for them also must work for people they consider heretics…” 

Your elites want everyone to wear the ribbon. Or take a vaccine. Or wear a mask. And in this case they exhibited enough buying power to cause the NHL to double back on tape jobs. As we said in this December column when the NHL originally announced it’s now a non-binary league, the pressure to comply and submit is tremendous. “… the NHL’s sudden conversion to trans orthodoxy is also highly instructive on how deep the tentacles of this ideology have attached themselves in ordinary culture. The NHL? Men-as-women playing against biological women? Until this radical chic agitprop thrust itself to the fore the last few years this was unthinkable for the NHL or its fans. Laughable. Fantastical.

But you have a league HQ embedded in the heart of Manhattan— where the global media, business and arts community have already succumbed to the intimidation of cultural blackmail. The NHL’s sponsors, suppliers, broadcast partners and just plain neighbours have also taken the Trans Kool Aid. At some point the NHL’s surrender must have seemed inevitable— even for a league that asks its employees to never back down to bullies.”

Something changed (probably a few powerful team owners, ESPN and its media fellow travellers). But the effect is the same. You can be an appeaser or suffer the consequences. As Churchill said, “An appeaser is someone who feeds the crocodile in hopes of being eaten last.”

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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 . His 2004 book Money Players was voted sixth best on the same list, and is available via

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

Deal With It: When St. Patrick Talked His Way Out Of Montreal

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Coming soon, our latest book “Deal With It: The Trades That Stunned The NHL And Changed Hockey”. With my son Evan, we look back to Espo to the Bruins (1967), Gretzky to the Kings (1988) , and St. Patrick to the Avalanche (1995), Deal With It tracks the back story behind the most impactful trades in modern NHL history. With detailed analysis and keen insight into these and five other monumental transactions, Deal With It recalls the moments when history was changed. Plus a ranking of the Top 25 Deals in NHL History.

One of the most memorable occurred 24 years ago, on December 6, 1995: Patrick Roy and Mike Keane from the Montreal Canadiens to the Colorado Avalanche for Jocelyn Thibault, Martin Rucinsky and Andrei Kovalenko. Trading, arguably, the greatest goalie the Canadiens history was the culmination of organizational dysfunction from which it has yet to recover. It begins with the hiring of former Habs Mario Tremblay and Rejean Houle when the Canadiens stumbled entering the 1994-1995 season. It started off well. Then on a November night in Montreal…

“With the team cooling off from their torrid start under (Mario) Tremblay, the Habs were at home for a Saturday night affair hosting a powerful Red Wings team on its way to breaking the NHL single-season wins record set by the 1976-77 Montreal team (62 to that club’s 60). With the closing of the Forum, the arena Roy had once dominated, Patrick’s dominance had become less-than-surefire. (He came in that night at 238-80-34 all-time at the Forum.) All that rich history didn’t help Roy that particular night and before a national TV audience the wheels came off for hundreds of thousands to witness.

Earlier in the day, Roy had had an impromptu breakfast at Moe’s Diner in Montreal with Detroit goalie Mike Vernon, who’d himself been forced out of Calgary after winning a Cup. Roy described his predicament. “It might be time for you to ask for a trade,” Vernon suggested to him. Fast forward to the notorious game. Getting bludgeoned by the Wings attack, Roy had given up nine goals before the game hit its halfway mark. Getting mock cheers for one of his few saves on the night- prompted a seething Roy replied with mock acknowledgement to the crowd. Clearly overwhelmed, Roy was kept in the nets as Tremblay let his star goalie get roasted by Scotty Bowman, who enjoyed getting revenge on his former player Tremblay for some remarks he’d made about Bowman’s coaching style.

Finally hooked after the ninth marker, Roy glared menacingly at his coach as he walked by on the bench. Stopping to take care of more business, he walked back across and, face-to-face, told a distressed-looking Corey that he had just played his last game with the Canadiens. As Roy walked past Tremblay on his way to the end of the bench, Roy and Tremblay glared eye-to-eye. Roy told him in French, “You understand?” This very public moment overshadowed what remains the worst home loss in the club’s storied history, an 11-1 spanking from Detroit. TV highlights that night across North America showed the stare-down.“The whole city was talking about it,” recalled Montreal native Eric Engels. “The team had suspended Roy and said they were going to trade him, and I just remember saying to the bus driver that they didn’t have to go this way, that they could salvage the situation.”

The following days saw the controversy erupt even further. Just months after plucking Houle and Tremblay from outside the organization, Corey sided with his inexperienced newbies and told Roy he would be getting dealt even when Roy apologized for his spat and vowed to mend fences. Typical of the climate at the time for even superior players who “disrespected” the organization, Roy was persona non grata in a matter of days. In his book, Serge Savard: Forever Canadien”, Savard explained the inevitability of the deal: “Patrick had become too important in the club. He took up too much space in the dressing room, had too much influence on the coach. Over the previous years, I had to handle him with kid gloves. I still had the same admiration for him as I did when we won the Stanley Cup in 1986 and 1993, where he played a determining role. But a change had become necessary. The team revolved around him too much. For the good of everyone, he needed a change of scenery.”

Team captain Mike Keane didn’t help lower the temperature at the Forum by claiming the man who wore the “C” with the Canadiens didn’t necessarily need to speak French and that he wouldn’t be bothering to learn it because the dressing room mostly communicated in English (true even in the most predominately French-based Habs teams such as the 1993 Cup winner that boasted no less than dozen Quebecois). Both Keane and Roy would go on the trading block together, joining similarly exiled pieces like Chris Chelios and Guy Carbonneau (the captain of the ’93 Cup winner, dealt after 1993-94 to the Blues for Jim Montgomery, after flashing the middle finger to a photographer who had eavesdropped on him playing a round of golf). Carbonneau’s successor at captain, Kirk Muller— an Ontario boy through and through— expressed how honoured and proud he was to wear the fabled letter patch. But he, too, would find himself gone to the Islanders partway through 1994-95. In other words, almost no one was sacred in Ron Corey’s world. Only four days after his dressing-down of the team president and head coach, Roy was notified by Houle that he had been traded.

Just like that, Montreal had parted with its franchise goalie as if it were still the “Original Six” days and players that got in management’s crosshairs were expendable. How traumatic was the deal for the rookie GM Houle? He’ll never tell. “And that is what I intend to do forever so that I don’t have to look back at a time that was difficult for me.” As for Roy, his take was “It was clear from the organization that they had made their decision. I said, ‘Okay, I’ll accept my mistake.’ I agree I was the one who made that thing happen on that Saturday, and both parties agreed it was in the best interests of us that we go different directions. I understand that you can’t put ten years aside and give it a little tap and it’s all gone. I lived through lots of good things in Montreal, but, again, it’s a turn I accept.”

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 . His 2004 book Money Players was voted sixth best on the same list, and is available via

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Bruce Dowbiggin

The Right To Criticize Climate Change Has Cost Mark Steyn Almost Everything

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“Whenever you hear the consensus of scientists agrees on something or other, reach for your wallet, because you’re being had.” author Michael Crichton, 2003

It’s a fair guess that when historians look back at the current era it will not be referred to as The Enlightenment. The purpose of our contemporary scientific inquiry, as those deceived by the Covid hustle will know, is not shedding light but shrouding and blinding honest inquiry.

If The Enlightenment was a ray of sunshine to expose truth, then the Suppression is a blow torch to destroy discussion.

Nothing better illustrates this destruction of creative scientific debate than the current Mann v Steyn, Simberg lawsuit. Climate-science salesman Michael Mann sued Rand Simberg and Canadian Mark Steyn in 2012 for defamation after the two men publicly disparaged Mann’s “hockey stick” graph that purported to prove that the late twentieth-century warmth in the Northern Hemisphere was unprecedented during at least the last 1,000 years.

Two Canadians, my friend Michael McIntyre and Ross McKitrick, then snapped the hockey stick narrative, leaving Mann vexed and his Green buddies vengeful. Steyn gleefully took up their findings. (Those familiar with Steyn will know that his facility with words is withering upon his subjects.) Mann decided to sue Steyn and Simberg in the Democratic swamp of the District of Columbia, arguing they’d ruined his reputation and devastated him financially.

Howler monkeys in Legacy Media (hello Bill Nye) sensed a kill and a chance to remove an annoying “denialst” But, like his successful 2012 defence of a free-speech case in Canada  while Steyn wrote at Macleans, Mann v Steyn, Simberg is not about science or policy. It’s about the U.S. First Amendment guaranteeing free speech, something the Left used to cherish (see: The People vs Larry Flynt.)

For the Al Gore glee club, dissent is heresy. So, for various reasons, none of them good, the case stalled in the D.C. court system for 12 years, costing Steyn his health (he’s in a wheelchair after suffering three heart attacks) and millions in legal fees. The case has finally come to court and is now with the jury. Because D.C. juries— and D.C. media— are highly partisan to climate-change Democrats predicting an outcome is foolhardy.

But after being raked in testimony for his case Mann— who has not paid a cent in legal costs— will likely not be advertising this as his shining moment. “Ill-advised and embarrassing” “thin-skinned and quick to attack.” Seeks “conflict, seeking to pick fights” and “Mann did in fact breach the ethical standards” are snippets of the testimony he endured. So far, his powerful groupies ranging the Clintons to the Biden are staying loyal.

Steyn, too, has his wounds from his principled fight. Most would have saved their sanity. He has said many times that the process of defending himself against the insanity of WOKEdom is the punishment itself. Seeing him physically struggle in court to deliver his case is ample proof of the price he’s paid for mocking the party line on climate.

(Note: We are unabashed fans of Steyn’s work since he began warning of a coming Dark Age brought on by unlimited immigration and Leftist overreach. This website <> is in no small measure a homage to his courage and vision.)

But here we are. No matter the outcome, the coordinated forces of censorship and intimidation will have a partial victory by showing what even a correct criticism of them brings. As they are doing with their legal and political mobbing of Donald Trump they are warning any future critics that they, not science, will re-write the past and create the future.

The implications the Left has invited with its acceptance of climate change, DEI, ESG and the many other acid acronyms are widespread. As just one example, we have been preparing a book on an academic institution whose focus is on the preservation of the culture, art and significance of the Middle Ages.

We have asked a number of the interview subjects for their predictions on why the events of a thousand years ago (or earlier) are significant. What do they tell us about our present state of anti-humanist culture? Is their hope for a new enlightenment in a WOKE world?

The urge to re-write the past to suit today’s political whims, said one subject, is fatal to academic and cultural appreciation of the time of Chaucer,  Dante and Bede. Her field of study, she said, is white Christian men in Europe a thousand years or so ago. She cannot change that description. Nor will she allow the re-writing of this period of history by ahistorical radicals seeking to bolster the present by falsifying the past. Is that the end of her funding?

That is what Mann sought in engineering the climate record of proxies in a handful of pine cone and ice core samples in eastern Russia. Like most climate diehards, he claimed to see lower temperatures in the past, thereby making today’s readings seem hotter. This allowed gormless climate wind therapists like Barack Obama to claim that 97 percent of scientists agree with Mann’s “consensus” on climate change— a claim repeated endlessly by the climate cabal. This support empowered Mann to sue anyone who disputed his conclusions.

The late author Michel Crichton saw this Ship of Fools coming in 2003 when he warned, “I regard consensus science as an extremely pernicious development that ought to be stopped cold in its tracks. Historically, the claim of consensus has been the first refuge of scoundrels; it is a way to avoid debate by claiming that the matter is already settled..”

Sadly, Crichton died in 2008, and Mann and hysterics like Greta Thunberg went unchecked into the bloodstream of Western society. The bland acceptance of “the effects of climate change” commercials now being peddled by Justin Trudeau’s governments is testament to the power of this lie. (Asking a climate scientist about the impacts of global warming is like asking a bureaucrat about the benefit of larger government.)

Mark Steyn and Rand Simberg sought to mock that pretence. They may even win their legal case. But the herculean struggle just to remind the public of some simple truths on science tells you that we are in dangerous times populated by scoundrels and opportunists who will not be stopped until they dictate every aspect of society.

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 . His 2004 book Money Players was voted sixth best on the same list, and is available via

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