Above the Glass
by Samantha on 05/02/13 at 10:12 AM ET
Don, Don, Don, seriously? Still sticking to that no girls allowed in the locker room story, eh? Not but a few days after Don Cherry's words that will live in infamy, Jason Collins made history when he announced publicly that he is gay. I see Cherry is trying to cover his tracks, but he's still missing the point. Somewhere between the stone age of "no girls allowed" and the modern era lies the truth. I know for sure that part of the truth lives in Portland, Oregon: Land of triple shot lattes, kick-ass microbrews, Grimm's cast and crew, Voodoo Doughnuts, year-round skiing and the three-time WHL Western Conference Champions, the Portland Winterhawks. On Friday, the team will commence their third straight run at the previously elusive WHL title. The streak started in the 2010 - 2011 season, which was also the first year I started blogging about the team on oregonlive.com. In that time, I've seen a lot of strange and wonderful things here in the Rose City. Among the wonderful things: Watching a boatload of the NHL's future play several nights a week, 9 months out of the year, and the opportunity to ocassionally hobnob with the NHL bigwigs. They all have one thing in common: they know a heck of a lot more about respecting women than Don Cherry ever will. So I tip my hat to the NHL types who've given me a minute of their time and to the young men on the Portland Winterhawks' roster whose standard post-game greeting is "Hey Sam."
"“We value virtue but do not discuss it. The honest bookkeeper, the faithful wife, the earnest scholar get little of our attention compared to the embezzler, the tramp, the cheat.”
― John Steinbeck, Travels with Charley: In Search of America
How can we help you? One of the many reasons I completely respect Winterhawks Head Coach and GM Mike Johnston is because he respects me. The first time I met him, he didn't tell Graham Kendrick to kick me out of the rink or banish me to the parking lot of the Winterhawks Skating Center. No sir. His only question was "is Graham getting you everything you need, with stats and interviews?" When I first visited the Skating Center while the remodel was in its final days, he showed me around to point out all the new features and talk about when it would be completed. After games and at practice, he makes time for interviews with me the same as everyone else. The naysayers might argue that this is the same coach that got suspended for the regular season, and I get where you're coming from. But here's where Portland is coming from: we know Mike, we know how he does business, we know he is a completely ethical and upstanding citizen of our town. We don't just watch the games he coaches; we live in this community alongside him and his family and we see his commitment to our community and fans. And that is why In Mike We Trust.
Do not fear him. He comes in peace. Ok, I know many of you may not be with me on this, but here you go: Brian Burke is one of the nicest, most respectful and polite people in this business. I met him outside the Winterhawks locker room (where, BTW, all reporters wait for the players) and fans had the chance to chat with him in the elevator down to the locker room. It was only a few minutes, but it was enough to be impressed. Besides, he traded to get Brad Ross in the 2010 Entry Draft, which is money well spent if Brad remembers well what Mike Johnston taught him.
Don't I know you? Thank you Derrick Pouliot, who was drafted 8th overall in the 2012 Entry Draft, and who is being closely watched nowadays by one Bill Guerin. The latter came through town earlier this year, and I firmly believe that if the Hockey Gods hand you a gift, you take it and say thank you. So thank you Derrick/Hockey Gods. My interview with Guerin lasted all of one minute and covered Derrick's progress (it's all good), our awesome billets (Thank you, Teresa) and what the future holds for Derrick. It affirmed what my fellow Penguins fans already know; they are a top class organization and Portland proudly awaits the day when Derrick will wear his Pens jersey full time. As for that interview, it was absolutely the high point of my regular season. Well, that and the Scotty Munro, U.S. Division and Western Conference titles, but you get the idea.
Tweets O' The Year. My absolute favorite Tweets of the week, second and third only to Derrick's classic "Turtle Eats Goldfish in Class" came from Hockey News writer Adam Proteau: "It's ridiculous we're debating a woman's place in sports dressing rooms in 2013. Hey cavemen, you lost this one. Go make fire or something." and this one from Dustin Penner: "Honestly I don't care if you are gay or straight as my teammate. As long as you don't listen to Nickelback. #courage"
"Hey Sam. How's it going?" This is the standard post game and practice greeting from most of the Winterhawks who already know me. You'd never know it now, but only a few seasons ago some players took one look at me -- not realizing that "Sam from oregonlive" was short for "Samantha from oregonlive" -- and went right back in without so much as a hello. How did I get from Point A to Point B? I work hard, I do my homework, I use quotes and information responsibly and I give praise to this team when it's due; like right now, for example. After three seasons, I can personally guarantee you that the NHL's future comes to the big league bearing manners, intelligence, respect and proper upbringing. So I tip my hat to the men in this business who have given their female counterparts the opportunity and respect that really, we all deserve, no matter what our gender, race, religion or sexuality. Don Cherry's remarks don't just piss me off because they are ancient and sexist, it's also because he doesn't represent a lot of men who are doing and saying the right things. Anyone can make snarky, controversial remarks that attract YouTube hits and CBC Ratings and such; true honor and glory lie in doing and saying the right thing and in knowing that female fans, reporters, bloggers, executives, etc, love and understand your favorite game as much as you do. We just ask that you treat us accordingly. Kudos to the men in hockey who have done so.
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About Above the Glass
Welcome to Above the Glass, a definitive anti-expert’s guide to hockey. I started blogging in 2009 as part of an effort to learn all 87 rules in the NHL Rulebook in 107 days before the 2010 Olympics, 30 years after I discovered the sport. You can peruse the archival results here. Growing up in Arizona, I didn’t even know hockey existed until February 22, 1980, when the USA played Russia in the Olympics. And just like that, the game of the century changed my life. I still don’t quite understand the icing rule or which faceoff circle goes with what offense, but I do know that every aspect of hockey has something to teach us about life. That’s what you’ll find here, along with my unadulterated passion for the game.
I live in Portland, Oregon, home of the WHL’s Portland Winterhawks. I invite anyone who wants to know more about hockey in the Rose City to visit here, where I blog exclusively about the Winterhawks. I’ll post an occasional musing about the Hawks, the WHL and junior hockey here as well.
Follow me on Twitter: @AbovetheGlass