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Bruce Dowbiggin

NHL Stardom: It’s A Money Thing

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One of the striking observations from the otherwise uneventful  #nhldraft2022 was how homogenous the kids were from a social POV. These weren’t humble farm boys and blue-collar sloggers. This wasn’t J.C. Tremblay, one of 13 kids from Bagotville, Quebec, or Gordie Howe from tiny Floral, Saskatchewan.  These prospects were middle-, upper-middle class products of a multi-million dollar development process. It’s not a sport for paupers.

It also helps to have a parent or supporter who’s been in the hockey industry, too. Brad Lambert, drafted by Winnipeg in the first round, is the nephew  of NY Islanders coach Lane Lambert. St. Louis pick Jimmy Snuggerrud is a third-generation player who father Dave played four NHL seasons. Etc.

As we asked in August of 2021 , “Are today’s superstars a product of more than talent? Are they also the products of an expensive, exclusive grooming process that leaves the Bobby Hull farm-boy archetype in the dust? 

One hint of the benefit of having access to resources and people within the hockey industry is the annual spate of sons of former NHLers now being drafted each summer. In the recent draft, there was a plethora of progeny selected, many at the very top of the draft. No other league has such a high percentage of sons being selected. 

There have always been a few NHL father/ son duos. Gordie Howe’s boys and Bobby and Brett Hull spring to mind. But they were not as pervasive in the league as they are today. Witness the 2021 Draft that saw a host of familiar family names getting new surnames. 

Cole Sillinger (Mike), Tyler Boucher (Brian), Josh Doan (Shane), Redmond Savage (Brian), Ryan St. Louis (Martin); Shane Lachance (Scott); Nick Malik, Marek), Justin Robidas, (Stephane), Jackson Blake (Jason) and Chase Stillman (Cory) were among the sons of famous fathers drafted. Others were signed as free agents. 

It was no fluke. A glance around the NHL shows many sons of former stars getting steady work. Matthew and Brady Tkachuk (Keith), Kasperi Kapanen (Sami), Brandon Sutter (Brent), William and Alex Nylander (Michael), Sam Reinhart (Paul), Max Domi (Tie), Samuel Poulin (Patrick), Tag Bertuzzi (Todd), Ryan Johnson (Craig), Tyson Barrie (Len), Landon Ferraro (Ray), Marcus and Nick Foligno (Mike), Nolan Foote (Cal), Ryan MacInnis (Al)  Brendan Lemieux (Claude),  Ryan Donato (Ted),  Daniel Audette (Donald) and Dominic Turgeon, (Pierre) are just a sampling of the direct relationship between father and sons.

The hockey pipeline is full of young men whose fathers could give them a hockey education but who also knew many of right people to tap into. The sophisticated training and arduous diet regimes are getting more like Tom Brady and less like Gump Worsley. And they’re expensive— even in Howe’s home nation of Canada which honours its roots.

This discipline and access is reflected in the United States where the boom in hockey participation is resulting not in farm boys and rink rats but in privileged sons and daughters of highly paid NHL stars getting an inside track on make the league or the Olympics. 

NHL veterans in both the U.S., Europe and Canada know the inner workings of agents, independent training academies and skill trainers to help their sons past some of the highest hurdles in development. If they handled their millions properly they also have the funds to open doors for young stars. 

As we wrote in this obit for Walter Gretzky, the elite training he gave Wayne has spawned many costly and hard-to-access training methods for people like him, a former telephone technician. 

“With the success of Gretzky’s training model— plus the importation of European skill training— families realized that if their sons and daughters wanted to be world-class athletes they were going to have to reject the Don Cherry ”Try Harder” school and imitate the techniques Gretzky had used on his son. Within a decade, getting the proper coaching and fitness to become a star became a growth industry.

Power skating, off-ice training, ice rentals, new equipment, travel and coaching all became necessary to get a leg up on the competition. It was also very expensive. Having the resources to send your child to the top fitness gurus like Gary Roberts or to place them in a school like Shattuck St. Marys (as Sidney Crosby was) becomes a process costing tens— or hundreds— of thousands of dollars.

Author Malcolm Gladwell popularized the notion of taking 10,000 hours to translate talent into the finished product of a genius. It takes money to allow a young person that time, money that only a select number of families can provide.  If you are a child in a single-income home or in a remote part of the country away from facilities, equipping and training a young prospect quickly gets out of the reach of parents of modest means. 

Perhaps the most telling development story was that of Montreal goalie Carey Price, whose father bought a $13,000 four-seat Piper Cherokee plane to fly young Carey back and forth 320 kilometres to hockey practices all winter in northern B.C.

Where the NHL was predominantly players from blue-collar backgrounds till the Euros arrived in the 1970s, today it is often constituted of young  men from families of means and education. The idea of the farming father of the six Sutter brothers affording his sons’ training today is highly improbable. Today’s NHL has a number of college-educated players and products of dedicated European training. 

In that way, through no fault of Walter Gretzky, hockey has become a sport for families of means or friends with means. He taught parents that the proper training and equipment was imperative. And that doesn’t mean simply the rink in your backyard. When a new pair of skates cost $500, a stick costs $125  or a set of goalie equipment runs into thousands of  dollars you are losing a segment of the population to financial costs. And so Walter’s legacy of training development is forever tied to a big price tag.”

To say nothing of the progeny of NHL stars helping give their kids a hand-up in making it to the league and its vast piggy bank.  

Bruce Dowbiggin @dowbboy is the editor of Not The Public Broadcaster (http://www.notthepublicbroadcaster.com). The best-selling author was nominated for the BBN Business Book award of 2020 for Personal Account with Tony Comper. A two-time winner of the Gemini Award as Canada’s top television sports broadcaster, he’s also a regular contributor to Sirius XM Canada Talks Ch. 167. His new book with his son Evan Inexact Science: The Six Most Compelling Draft Years In NHL History is now available on 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

Find This Beautiful? It Probably Depends On How You Vote

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Today’s children are 30% less aerobically fit than their parents were at their age, a new study (has) found. The study points to climate change and rising temperatures adversely affecting childhood obesity, as children spend less time exercising outdoors.— CBS News

Nice that CBS cares about obesity. Predicably, they tie it to their pet obsession of climate change. Just another indication that even when something deserves attention it must be tortured beyond all logic by the credentialed cliques.

For proof how far this can go look only to Friday’s release by the U.S. Center For Disease Control that announced— Jumpin’ Jehosaphat!—non-vaccinated people should have the same protocols as vaccinated people. Kids can stay in classes after being exposed to the virus. And screening is no longer necessary for this without symptoms.

The admission that non-vaxxed are not the scourge of society or students not a vector for infection would have had you fired from your job by Justin Trudeau or banned from social media giants just a year ago. Today? Meh. Those waiting for apologies or getting their job back had better get a chair. Could be a while.

But social stigmatizing of the unclean has become routine in the age of 21 genders and travel bans. Debunking centuries of Judea-Christian learning and tradition is a party game for the Stephen Colbert set. (Remember when comedians made jokes, not lists of those to be cast into hell?)

Which brings us back to obesity. In May we noted that, far from it being a problem, it was now body affirming when practiced by the correct people. Even if obese people constituted the largest risk group for Covid-19.

“The notion of what constitutes a beautiful body is in the news again as Sports Illustrated featured plus-sized model Yumi Nu on the cover of its annual swimsuit edition. The swimsuit edition is the annual display of beautiful female bodies that traditionally sent nuns and librarians into a censorship fury worthy of Twitter. (And found its way between the mattresses of teenaged boys.)

In what is clearly Woke symbolism, Time Warner’s magazine is attempting to placate  another stigmatized group— plus-sized women— by displaying Nu in all her rounded beauty. “See, it’s normal to be wearing XXX-sized clothing” is the message.

Canadian author/ psychologist Dr. Jordan Peterson spoke for those not amused by SI’s project: “Sorry. Not beautiful. And no amount of authoritarian tolerance is going to change that. It’s a conscious progressive attempt to manipulate & retool the notion of beauty, reliant on the idiot philosophy that such preferences are learned & properly changed by those who know better.”

But there was a cascade of approval for SI’s choice, recognizing that beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Many found Nu stunning and sexy. Feminists applauded her acceptance of bodaciousness.  Fair enough.

Two quibbles. One small and the other massive. First— this will be lost on feminists— the SI Swimsuit edition was created in the 1960s to defeat a stereotype that fit sportswomen were tomboys, unattractive and vaguely butch. In their own way, the early SI models destroyed those stereotypes. They convinced women that muscles aren’t a bringdown.

The more significant point— lost on SI and Time Warner— is that the time of Covid, with its choked hospitals and healthcare system, is hardly the moment to celebrate people who exceed their body-fat index. In fact it might be described as a reckless message that allows people with hereditary or cultural vulnerability to diabetes, stroke and heart attacks to put off weight reduction. 

As we wrote last October, obesity is the silent killer of millions infected with the virus. But one buried by governments, media and health authorities who decided to make vaccine-resisters the real villain of the piece.

“Friends and neighbours we have thought otherwise sane are now seriously demanding that unvaccinated people be sent to the back of the line for health care till all the vaccinated people are satisfied. This triage is equal measures of fear, spite and blithering ignorance of the facts of single-payer health. 

Take this example: one of the factors established very early in the pandemic was the vulnerability of obese and morbidly obese— especially in the elderly. The AMA reports, “The vast majority—78%—of U.S. patients hospitalized with COVID-19 were overweight or had obesity. The numbers for intensive care, invasive mechanical ventilation and death were nearly the same.”

According to the CDC, 42.4 percent of U.S. adults have obesity.  While some are obese for genetic or disease-related reasons, the vast proportion of the obesity is lifestyle induced. The World Obesity Federation has shown that death rates from COVID-19 have been 10 times higher in countries where more than half of the population is overweight.

Yet there is no call from the media and its acolytes to punish the obese for clogging the healthcare system. No demand they be put to the back of the line. Why? Because it doesn’t suit the narrative of right-wing extremism the way that non-vaxxers do. Too many allies of Woke land— in and out of politics— would be shoved down the line if fat were targeted.

University of Oxford researchers found, ”Excess weight is a modifiable risk factor, and investment in the treatment of overweight and obesity and long-term preventive strategies could help reduce the severity of COVID-19 disease.” 

Yet when was the last time you heard Justin Trudeau or president Joe Biden suggest dropping weight to lessen the burden on healthcare? The last time would be the first time, as they have been mute on lifestyle adaptions to clear the ICUs. 

It goes the same for smokers, drinkers, drug abusers and more who— under Canada’s healthcare rules— receive the same treatment in emergency rooms as do those who live clean. According to the howler monkeys of vaccine enforcement only non-vaxxers should be culled from the herd for flooding ICUs.”

It’s not the first time that Wokedom has stifled information contrary to their  societal control. It won’t be the last. In the battle of the bulge it’s not a fashion statement. It’s a matter of life and death. It’s also a matter of saving the healthcare system.”

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

 

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Bruce Dowbiggin

Presumed Authority: Would We Say Something That Wasn’t True?

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“The journalistic priesthood that’s spent the last 6-7 years denouncing these people and their voters has done the opposite, proudly aligning itself with the hated inside, celebrating credentialism, and worst of all, cheering a censorship movement that’s now proven to be an abject failure.”— Matt Taibbi, taibbi.substack.com

Were the American Revolution fought today, not in 1776, it’s likely that the current American establishment that raids the homes of former presidents would side with Mad King George III, not with the hot-blooded pursuers of freedom and independence in the Constitution. The Media Party’s love of power, elitism and entitlement— from Stephen Colbert to SNL’s appointed fools— would make even the 18th century British snobs seem like everyday folk.

Canadians (under the United Empire Loyalists tag) were still content to be ruled at long distance by an autocratic monarch incapacitated with porphyria. (Unless Joe Biden were available in Washington DC, in which case they might accept the zombie at close range.)  Deference to authority has been Canada’s abiding trait the past 235 years for those who skedaddled from Jefferson, Washington and Adams. In whatever guise— nutty Mackenzie King, huffy Pierre Trudeau or foppish Justin Trudeau— prime ministers have been able to count on the obsequious support of everyone from the original Confederation four-pack— and its media— if the alternative was being American.

Being American meaning a propensity for noisy debate, showy display and siccing the FBI on enemies. This sniffy condescension to all things American— while lapping up their charity— solidified the Family Compact’s presumed superiority over those it governed.

Americans now have snobs, too. Whether sequestered at Hyannis Port, Hollywood, Aspen or Napa the special people thrive on punching-down elitism. But even before the Mar-A-Lago raid there was a sense the Media Party’s noblesse oblige might have hit its expiry date. The vox populi is restless. Substack writer Matt Taibbi has seen it coming. “Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders both surged in 2016 when they described a country divided into a small corrupt establishment and everyone else, and declared themselves on the side of everyone else.”

The Trump election by “everyone else” in 2016 signalled the shift. Gatekeepers accustomed to choosing the elected on Sunday morning talk shows became irrelevancies. They thought they’d dust Trump faster than you could say “raid Mar-A-Lago”. Bad assumption. Somehow they failed to see how reviled they’ve become as they thrust Hillary Clinton or Al Gore at a totally disinterested world.

Taibbi chronicles the reason for the rapid 2016 decline of the self-appointed. “The mechanism that launched (Trump) from small plurality to victory in the general was a coverage avalanche that conferred elite disapproval in massive doses. The more times outlets like fivethirtyeight.com incorrectly insisted Trump couldn’t be nominated because “voters are paying more attention,” or the Washington Post ran headlines like, The three times Donald Trump demonstrated he was unfit for the presidency in last night’s debate, the more he gained.” Ending in stunning election.

Rather than amend their loathed status Team Obama continued to conjure up ciphers like Kamala Harris, Beto O’Rourke, Pete Buttigieg, Amy Klobuchar and Liz Cheney as the next great thing, unaware how repellent the governing class has become to regular America. When that failed they launched a censorship campaign.

This backwards strategy kept Trump populism alive. Example: The Trump era seemed over when he was removed from Twitter and Facebook shortly after Jan. 6. Instead, “Silenced Trump has only improved his electoral viability since”. Orange Man Bad is now tracking in the 42-45 percent approval band— above anything during his presidency. His polling with blacks and latinos is at an all-time high.

Media Party attempts to use Florida governor Ron DeSantis to quell the Trump revival have been hampered by DeSantis refusing to play Topo Gigio to PBS/CNN/ MSNBC and the printed press. After the fraudulent Russiagate narrative it marks an end of their presumed privilege. Daffy King George would be proud.

In Canada the irrelevance of the Trudeau-bought media is still a buried story. To those paying attention the Trucker Convoy was the watershed. The anointed CBC/ CTV/ Global shills in the 416/613 praised Trudeau’s abrogation of civil rights against mainstream Canada and cheered the jailing of Convoy leaders. (One CBC host, who suggested the Convoy was a Putin plot, was promoted.) A withering international barrage of criticism from even the Bill Mahers of U.S. media failed to sober them to their corrupt irrelevance.

The current attempt to tame populist fires is the left-leaning media’s swooning for played-out 1990s man Jean Charest as the answer to Conservative electoral dreams. Charest is what a liberal thinks a Conservative should be. Namely, defeated. But CBC panels and G&M editorials caution against rejecting Charest’s sober experience in favour of fiery Pierre Poilievre.

“Canada is different” says the Ottawa consultant class when faced with the Trump menace. Not if you’ve paid attention since social media freed up voices banned from “proper” journalistic society. Trudeau’s plunging polls and Liberal collapse are written off as a cycle that will disappear. Don’t count on it. Just ask Doug Ford.

Taibbi sums up the wilful denial. “This new press that forgives its own mistakes but cheers lifetime bans for others needs to realize it’s achieving negative influence in the process. Failure to stare that dynamic in the face means they’re sure to repeat the error over and over, remaining in their beloved roles as gatekeepers, only in reverse.”

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

 

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