Connect with us
[the_ad id="89560"]

Bruce Dowbiggin

The NHL Changes Its Mind: It Won’t Wear The Ribbon After All

Published

11 minute read

The NHL and #SJW membership was always a heavy lift. For a league whose core is largely wealthy owners, middle-class conservative whites and Orthodox Eastern Europeans, the idea of donning the symbols of #LGBTQ or Climate Change or one of the myriad hip causes du jour was a stretch.

But, pressed by ESG forces it felt is could not resist, the league shocked everyone by going full Woke earlier this year with a demand that its players wearing Pride jerseys in warmup before games. With its liberal media howler monkeys applauding wildly Gary Bettman must have thought it was a price worth paying.

But the NHL discovered what Bud Light, Target, Blackrock and others have found out about their consumers. While they are content to accept the differences in society they don’t want to be compelled into participating in controversial causes. They don’t want behaviours ground in their faces by the sanctimonious media purging its white guilt.

Hence the announcement from Gary Bettman last week that next season the league is not going to do novelty branding as an effort to raise consciousness and, yes, raise money using its products— the players. Cue the howler monkeys again— this time in indignation that not everyone will agree with their pet causes. Here is a Toronto morning show decrying the right to choose not to be one of the fanatically committed.

Then Toronto Blue Jays, whose parent company Rogers pays these morning show hosts, took a different tack with its excommunication of pitcher Anthony Bass for his objection to the #LGBTQ orthodoxy. In a move Lavrentiy Beria would applaud, Bass was publicly paraded before the media, forced to read prepared statements grovelling to Rogers’ pals and had on-air hosts like Dan Shulman discuss the psychological re-assignment Bass would undergo if he wanted to pitch in Toronto again.

Then they cut him in preparation for a Pride Month festi-palooza at the park. For now, the Blue Jays are only being criticized for their lack of clutch hitting.

As we wrote in MarchThe problem with liberal tolerance in Canada is that it’s not particularly liberal and it’s certainly not tolerant. For instance, the reverberations from goalie James Reimer declining to wear a San Jose Sharks rainbow jersey have continued…

It seems to have escaped many people’s tolerance that refusing to march in a parade does not mean you hate the people in the parade. It is to say that you have a different opinion. One your employer can’t compel you to abandon. An opinion guaranteed to you by generations of free speech defenders and religious freedom. 

It is why we have halal and kosher foods. Live and let live. But the hysteria is not stopping with Reimer. The radical blood hounds have tracked down new targets to mount on their gibbet of 100 percent conformity to Woke causes.

The latest NHLers caught up in this fundamental failure to communicate are the Staal brothers in Florida who followed Reimer’s path to say that they haven’t and won’t wear symbols with which they disagree. Immediately the SJW sports media attacked them. When they said they wouldn’t Pride jerseys it was shown by the gotchas ‘ that they had worn subtle LGBTQ jerseys in the past. As if this makes them hypocrites.

My friend Mark Hebscher asked if the NHL should suspend them. Really? What would Mark say if Edmonton’s Zach Hyman, a Jew, declined to wear Muslim symbols on an Islamic Pride night? Would Mark demand Hyman be suspended?

What would he say if secular players in the league declined to wear the cross on their jersey for a Christian appreciation night? Should they be punished as haters? What if a pro sports team has a Mormon appreciation night. Does refusing to wear an LDS badge make people haters?

Of course these examples are moot. There are no progressive DEI laurels for creating political trip wires over Muslims or secularists to advance Woke influence. The only targets that matter here are conservative whites. Sports teams these days would only entertain the most provocative causes to create “a crisis that shouldn’t go to waste” (in the words of Saul Alinsky in his Rules for Radicals).

This put us in mind of the famous Everyone Must Wear A Ribbon episode on Seinfeld. In the classic 1987 episode The Sponge, Kramer is harassed by AIDS Walk organizers for refusing to wear a ribbon as he walks in the event. Here’s what we wrote in April.

VOLUNTEER: But you have to wear an AIDS ribbon.

KRAMER: I have to?

VOLUNTEER: Yes.

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 to suppress dissent from “the other” who spreads disinformation.

The last group you’d have expected to adopt the You Must Wear A Ribbon tactic is the NHL. But no, the league that forgot Don Cherry is once again forcing its sanctity on players who dare to say “No, thanks” to wearing LGBTQ+2 sweaters as part of their costume drama.

We summed it up this way in March: “As we’ve contended over decades, the key to acceptance of gays in hockey will be the coming-out of a prominent NHL star(s). They are out there. It wasn’t high rhetoric from Brooklyn Dodgers GM Branch Rickey that changed the colour line in baseball. It was Jackie Robinson’s forbearance. It wasn’t slogans that slowly changed the skin colour of golf. It was Tiger Woods’ utter dominance. 

It was also the hyper-macho world that Brian Burke himself nurtured through the years before his son came out — not colourful jerseys— that has repressed gay participation in the NHL. The weeding-out of gay youth in the development process comes from the grass roots. (To his credit a penitent Burke now owns some of this.)

While it is commendable that Burke now supports his son’s memory, flailing Christians for refusing to wear Pride jerseys is not the way to achieve understanding. Worshipping symbols is a divisive, not a unifying action that plays into the hands of forces Burke clearly does not acknowledge or understand. Radicals who use terms like white settler and cis-gender-entitlement to baffle the vulnerable. And who will discard him when he’s no longer of use to them.

Churchill was prescient about appeasing today’s virtue warriors when he long ago said that appeasers “are like people who feed the crocodile in hopes that the crocodile eats them last.”  Chomp.Chomp. Their day is coming. “ Just ask Bud Light.

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

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.

Follow Author

Bruce Dowbiggin

Coyotes Ugly: The Sad Obsession Of Gary Bettman

Published on

It came to this. Playing in the 6,000 seat Mullet Arena on the campus of Arizona State. Owned by a luckless guy who eschewed the public spotlight. Out of the playoffs, their bags packed for who knows where, the Arizona (née Phoenix) Coyotes gave an appreciative wave to the tiny crowd gathered to say  Thanks For The Memories.

With that they were history. Although NHL commissioner-for-life Gary Bettman has promised the last in a set of hapless owners that he can revive the franchise for a cool billion should he build the rink that no one was willing to build for the Yotes the past 20 years.

The Arizona Republic said good riddance. “Metro Phoenix lost the Coyotes because we are an oversaturated professional and college sports market with an endless supply of sunshine and recreational choices. Arizona may have dodged a slapshot:

We have the NFL Cardinals, the MLB Diamondbacks, the NBA Suns, MLB spring training, the WM Phoenix Open, the Phoenix Rising, the WNBA Mercury, the Indoor Football League Rattlers and the Arizona State Sun Devils. There hasn’t been a household name on the Coyotes since Shane Doan, and half of Phoenix probably doesn’t know who he was”.

Likely they’ll be a financial success in Salt Lake City where there’s a viable owner, lots of money and a will to make it work. They’ll need a will because— stop me if you’ve heard this before about the Coyotes—  the rink they’ll play in this fall has only 12,500 unobstructed views for hockey.

Watching this farce we recalled getting a call from Blackberry co-founder Jim Balsillie in 2008, shortly after our book Money Players was a finalist for the Canadian Business Book of The Year. We’d written a fair bit about the Coyotes in our work and someone had told Balsillie we might be the ones to talk to about a plan he was concocting to buy the bankrupt Coyotes and eventually move them to Hamilton.

Balsillie was salty over the way he’d been used as a stalking horse in the financial troubles of the Pittsburgh Penguins in 1990s. Flush with money from the huge success of RIM, Balsillie offered to buy the Pens, with an eye to moving them to southern Ontario if Pittsburgh didn’t help build a new arena for the team.

In time, Balsillie saw that Bettman was only trying to protect the investment Mario Lemieux and others had in the Pens. Balsillie was the black hat who eventually spooked Pittsburgh into giving the current owners what they wanted. At the end of the day, Mario got his money and Balsillie was given a “thanks for trying”: parting gift of nebulous promises.

Still smarting, Balsille vowed not to be used again. in his desire to bring the NHL to southern Ontario. So when the Coyotes owner Jerry Moyes threw the keys to the team on Bettman’s desk, he saw an opening in the bankruptcy that followed. Seeing Bettman as the impediment, Balsillie decided to buy the team out of bankruptcy, a process the NHL could not legally prevent.

What Balsillie wanted to know was “What then? How would Bettman fight back?” We told him that no one flouts Bettman’s authority within the NHL. (All the current owners since 1993 have come aboard on his watch.)  And that he’d have to get the Board of Governors to approve his purchase. Odds: Nil.

That’s what happened. Rather than admit that the Valley of the Sun was poisoned for hockey, Bettman found another series of undercapitalized marks to front the franchise while the league quietly propped up the operation. No longer was the Coyotes’  failure about the fans of Arizona. It was about Gary Bettman’s pride.

Protestors stand outside a press conference in Tempe featuring Arizona Coyotes executives discussing propositions related to a new arena and entertainment district. (Photo by Brooklyn Hall/ Cronkite News)

Where he had meekly let Atlanta move to Winnipeg he fought like hell to save Arizona. And his power. (His obstinacy on U.S. network TV is another story.)

Fast forward to last week and the abject failure of that process. The Arizona Republic naively fawned on Bettman for his many attempts to save the team. In fact, they were just attempts to buttress his grip on the league. While the Coyotes may have been a mess, Bettman has succeeded in preserving the investments of most of the business people who bought his NHL business prospectus.

Sometimes it meant riding into Calgary to chastise the locals for their parsimony in not giving the Flames a new rink. Ditto for Edmonton. Ditto for Winnipeg  and other cities. Other times it was to shore up weak partners to protect the equity of other prosperous cities.  Sometimes it was to tell Quebec City, “Not gonna’ happen.”

For his loyalty to the owners and through some luck— Gretzky to the Kings— Bettman has made the NHL work in places no one might’ve imagined. Nashville. Raleigh. Tampa. Las Vegas. Dallas. Not at the level of the NFL, NBA or MLB, but at a comfortable equity-affirming status. Nothing happens without his say-so in the NHL. Or without him getting credit. Secondary NHL execs who wanted credit for their innovations were quietly punted.

When Houston finally gets a franchise from Gary they’ll part with $1.5 billion for the honour. While the commissioner has played down new franchises and expanded playoffs, you can bet your last dollar that he’s told owners they’re in line for more expansion cash— cash they don’t have to split with players in collective bargaining.

One more certainty. As long as Bettman rules the NHL you won’t see an NHL team back in Arizona.

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 brucedowbigginbooks.ca.

Continue Reading

Bruce Dowbiggin

Why Are Canadian Mayors So Far Left And Out Of Touch?

Published on

‘The City of Edmonton pays for a 22-person climate team but doesn’t know who on that team is responsible for what, or what that team has accomplished. Meanwhile, Council takes a pay raise and bumps our property taxes by 8.6%”  @michaelistuart

We just returned from a long trip to discover that the City of Calgary wants to potentially re-zone our neighbourhood. Bridle Estates is a collection of 175 bungalow villas for people aged 55-plus. While some people still work most of the inhabitants are retirees. The city’s earnest idea is to create low-cost housing for the tens of thousands arriving here in the city from away.

You can see why a city hall obsessed with white privilege wants to democratize our neck of the south-west corner of the city. Enforced justice has a great tradition. 1970s American cities decided that bussing was the antidote to segregation. After a SCOTUS decision allowing the practice in 1971 (back when liberals owned the court) progressives pushed through an aggressive plan to bus kids from the inner city to the leafy suburbs. And vice versa.

It worked like a charm. For conservatives, that is. It radicalized a generation of voters who soon installed Ronald Reagan as president, and empty buses went back to the depot. The Democrats went from the party of the people to the party people in Hollywood. With time dulling memories, contemporary Woke folk are reviving the integration dream. This time the mostly white suburbs will bear the brunt of the government’s immigration fixation (400K-plus in the third quarter).

There are meetings planned where citizens will be able to address their elected officials— no doubt in a respectful voice. But anyone who’s dealt with Climate Crisis Barbie— Mayor Jyoti Gondek— has much optimism. This is a mayor who exploited a three-way split in centre-right voting here to declare a Climate Emergency on her first day in office.

Then she rolled out hate-speech laws to protect her from being razzed in public. For this and other fabulist blunders— her messing with the new arena project drove a worse deal and a two-year delay in a home for the Calgary Flames— she faced a recall project (which failed to collect over 400K voters’ signatures).

With a housing bubble expanding everyday, Her Tone Deafness has decided that owning a home is so passé. ”We are starting to see a segment of the population reject this idea of owning a home and they are moving towards rental, because it gives them more freedom.” She added that people have become “much more liberated around what housing looks like and what the tenure of housing looks like.”

As the Calgary’s schmozzles and Edmonton’s dabble in climate extravagance illustrate the municipal level of government in Canada is a few lobsters shy of a clambake. Across the country major cities are in the hands of radical NDP soldiers or virtue warriors who would rather have symbols than sewers to talk about.

In Toronto, Jack Layton’s widow Olivia Chow is leveraging her 37 percent mandate to make Toronto a kinder, Wok-er city. In Vancouver and Victoria, B.C., the open-air drug agendas of new mayors and city councils have sent capital fleeing elsewhere. Despite crime and construction chaos, Montreal mayor Valerie Plante won a second term, by emphasizing her gender.

In times when the coffers were full, this ESG theatre might have been a simple inconvenience. But since the federal and provincial governments began shoving responsibilities and costs downward to municipalities there is no wiggle room for grandstanding politicians at the city level. Or for hapless amateurs.

With the public incensed over residential property tax increases on one side and the blandishments of aggressive developers on the other, competent governance has never been more needed in the urban areas. While feds can (and have) printed money to escape their headaches and the provinces can offload costs onto the cities, the municipalities have no room for risk.

The time bomb in this equation is the debt load that the three levels can sustain. After this week’s budget, federal spending is up $238B, or 80 percent since 2015.  Coming off this free-spending budget the feds have pushed the federal debt to more than $1.2 trillion this year (in 2015, the debt was $616 billion.) None of the provinces has shown any appetite for the 1990s-style cuts to reduce their indebtedness. Leaving cities to crank the property-tax handle again.

So far, Canada’s cities have been able to use friendly municipal bonds to ease their fiscal problems. But if the Canadian economy continues its tepid performance with no reduction in debt, financial experts tell us that there could be a flight from Canadian municipal bonds— with a consequent spike in interest rates elsewhere.

The backlash on free-spending governments will be severe— and restricted municipalities will be hardest hit. None of this is resonating with Canadians still flush with cash from Covid. The stock markets are still buoyant and those living in cashbox houses are counting their dividends. Willful denial is the Trudeau legacy.

Which is why so many Canadian were shocked last week when American AntiTrump media star Bill Maher did an intervention on Canadian conceits. Using the True North as his warning to America, Maher ripped apart the gauzy leftist dream of Canada as the perfect society, the Sweden north of Estevan. By the time he was done, the single-payer myth was bleeding on the ground.

Maher knows that the bill is coming due for free-spending Canada and its climate charlatans. (The IMF is already warning of a global crisis over debt loads.) The question is: will Canadians come to the same conclusion before it’s too late to save the cities?

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. His new book Deal With It: The Trades That Stunned The NHL And Changed hockey is now available on Amazon. Inexact Science: The Six Most Compelling Draft Years In NHL History, his previous 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 brucedowbigginbooks.ca.

Continue Reading

Trending

X