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It Is About Race

from Adam Proteau of The Hockey News,

As the Winnipeg Jets’ season wound down, a controversy involving one of their players flared up. Interim coach Paul Maurice made star winger Evander Kane a healthy scratch for a game in Toronto – and just like that, harsh words were hauled out to criticize the 22-year-old: he had an attitude; he was arrogant; he wasn’t a good fit with the Jets; he needed to be traded post-haste. If it sounded familiar, that’s because it was. Ever since the franchise relocated to Manitoba from Atlanta, Kane has been a target for critics.

Some of that, he’s earned. When he posed during the 2012-13 lockout in front of the lights of Las Vegas pretending a giant stack of money was his cell phone, fans and media rightfully ripped him for not understanding how it would be perceived.

But put aside the specifics of that situation for a second and answer these questions: Were you ever 21? Did you ever make a mistake at that age? Do you think that, if you were making millions of dollars and existed in a massive public fishbowl at that age, you might make the odd error in judgment?

The answer should be “yes.” That’s why there’s something about the relentless negativity surrounding Kane that doesn’t sit right. I’m not pointing to anyone specific when I say this, but I have to say it: some of the criticism hurled at Kane – as well as teammate Dustin Byfuglien and Canadiens star P.K. Subban – is about his race more than his character. It’s what Kane referred to last year when he told THN’s Ken Campbell “a good portion” of the criticism is racially motivated.

continued

Filed in: NHL Teams, Montreal Canadiens, Winnipeg Jets, | KK Hockey | Permalink
  Tags: dustin+byfuglien, evander+kane, p.k.+subban

Comments

Avatar

If I’m Ken Holland, I’d make a serious pitch to Cheveldayoff for Kane. If he’s maybe on his way out of Winnipeg - or at least could be had - I’d see what it’d take. The Wings have too many prospects and not enough roster spots - perfect time to consolidate three good bodies into one elite body.

Posted by VitoLambruski on 04/19/14 at 11:43 AM ET

wolverine's avatar

That’s why there’s something about the relentless negativity surrounding Kane that doesn’t sit right. I’m not pointing to anyone specific when I say this, but I have to say it: some of the criticism hurled at Kane – as well as teammate Dustin Byfuglien and Canadiens star P.K. Subban – is about his race more than his character.

I guess it’s a good thing that Ryan Malone is white, otherwise his arrest would have been based on his color - according to Proteau. Way to play the race card to create controversy.

Posted by wolverine on 04/19/14 at 11:49 AM ET

SK77's avatar

I think the comments (at this point) on THN are pretty spot on. Race was never an issue with players like Jarome Iginla, Anson Carter, or Mike Grier, because they didn’t act like pompous idiots or make stupid decisions.

Then you’ve got guys like Sean Avery and Patrick Kane running their mouths, doing stupid stuff on the ice, punching cab drivers, and everyone from fans to media is all over them and it’s not because they’re black.

Kane, Byfuglien, and Subban, have all made poor decisions that have resulted in criticism. But how much of it is really about race (a small amount obviously must exist), and how much does the mainstream media make out of it?

Posted by SK77 on 04/19/14 at 11:52 AM ET

J.J. from Kansas's avatar

I guess it’s a good thing that Ryan Malone is white, otherwise his arrest would have been based on his color - according to Proteau.

In fairness, the Ryan Malone arrest seems to have made fairly small waves this week.  I wonder if that’s still the case if it’s Byfuglien instead?

Posted by J.J. from Kansas on 04/19/14 at 12:16 PM ET

SK77's avatar

In fairness, the Ryan Malone arrest seems to have made fairly small waves this week.  I wonder if that’s still the case if it’s Byfuglien instead?

Posted by J.J. from Kansas on 04/19/14 at 12:16 PM ET

Do you think that’s even remotely comparable?

Malone was frequently scratched 4th line winger playing in a Florida market that doesn’t even care about hockey.

Kane, Subban, and Byfuglien, are all top-tier or starts of the future, big contract players playing in hockey-crazed Canada.

If any of those three guys were busted for drunk driving and cocaine possession right before the playoffs started it would rightly be a huge deal. Same as if it happened with David Krecji, Marian Hossa, or Phil Kessel.

Alexander Ovechkin sure doesn’t get a free ride in the media because he’s white. And before you say well people dog on him because he’s Russian, no one gives any grief to Datsyuk.

Some people play up to expectations and their contract, do the right things, and are all-around good guys. Some people make bad decisions, say stupid things, and make the mistake of playing in Canada.

Posted by SK77 on 04/19/14 at 12:51 PM ET

SnLO's avatar

Next thing you know he’ll be protesting that U of M denied him his enrollment based on race not his 3.5 GPA and 23 on ACT.

Posted by SnLO from the sub great-white north on 04/19/14 at 01:04 PM ET

J.J. from Kansas's avatar

Alexander Ovechkin sure doesn’t get a free ride in the media because he’s white. And before you say well people dog on him because he’s Russian, no one gives any grief to Datsyuk.

That’s a good point if Datsyuk’s career starts in 2008.

Because that was the year people stopped griefing on Datsyuk for being Russian… six years after he entered the league as a “soft, hands-only Russian who doesn’t go to the dirty areas and wilts in the playoffs.”

Implying that Pavel Datsyuk proves that Russian players don’t get dogged more because they’re Russian doesn’t make any sense to me. Malkin is tolerated in Pittsburgh because Crosby is there, but every time things go even a little south there, at least one and usually more of the Pittsburgh slappies start talking about how Malkin is selfish and doesn’t talk to the media.

I think you’re severely downplaying the issue and in doing so, you used an awful comparison.

Posted by J.J. from Kansas on 04/19/14 at 01:17 PM ET

SK77's avatar

I think you’re severely downplaying the issue and in doing so, you used an awful comparison.

Posted by J.J. from Kansas on 04/19/14 at 01:17 PM ET

Sorry to bring in the comparison between Ovechkin and Datsyuk, except if Pavel used to get grief he stopped it by developing his game and playing hard and saying the right things. All Ovechkin has done is grown into a self-centered player who throws coaches and line mates under the bus with his comments and actions.

What’s your feeling on the fact that Malone is a marginal player playing in a market that doesn’t care about hockey, versus Kane, Subban, and Byfuglien, playing where they do with the expectations put upon them?

I’m not saying race isn’t an issue, but instead of focusing on the 5% of bigots or whatever percentage you want to say, I’d rather question if the other 95% have a point or not based upon the players actual play.

Posted by SK77 on 04/19/14 at 01:26 PM ET

J.J. from Kansas's avatar

except if Pavel used to get grief he stopped it by developing his game and playing hard and saying the right things

Yep… all he had to do was become one of the absolute BEST players in the game and win several Lady Byng awards, three consecutive Selkes, AND earn himself a Hart nomination.

Every one of those young punks ought to do that!  I can’t believe their punk asses aren’t doing that!

Punks…

What’s your feeling on the fact that Malone is a marginal player playing in a market that doesn’t care about hockey, versus Kane, Subban, and Byfuglien, playing where they do with the expectations put upon them?

If Malone does this same thing in Winnipeg, I think he gets the same treatment Pavelec got, which was a “he needs help” avuncular finger-wagging from that press-corps who would be all too pleased to forget about that so they could focus on more important issues, like unconfirmed reports about Kane skipping a restaurant bill.

Posted by J.J. from Kansas on 04/19/14 at 01:41 PM ET

OlderThanChelios's avatar

When the “race card” gets played almost every day and in almost every situation by the likes of Holder and Obama, it’s not surprising that someone in the media would grab onto that convenient excuse for the well-deserved criticism that Kane has gotten? It’s lazy, lazy journalism.

As for Evander Kane being a fit in Detroit? Right now, he’d be no better a fit than Patrick Kane would have been when he was a cabbie-punching punk. No thank you – at least not until he grows up.

Posted by OlderThanChelios from Grand Rapids, MI on 04/19/14 at 01:52 PM ET

perfection's avatar

oh lord. yeah, it’s Obama’s fault totally. racism doesn’t exist. never has. just a “card” that spineless liberals play to get free stuff. yeah, that’s a healthy worldview there.

Posted by perfection from LaLaLand on 04/19/14 at 01:57 PM ET

SK77's avatar

Posted by J.J. from Kansas on 04/19/14 at 01:41 PM ET

Okay, fair enough.

Posted by SK77 on 04/19/14 at 01:58 PM ET

Avatar

When the “race card” gets played almost every day and in almost every situation by the likes of Holder and Obama, it’s not surprising that someone in the media would grab onto that convenient excuse for the well-deserved criticism that Kane has gotten? It’s lazy, lazy journalism.

As for Evander Kane being a fit in Detroit? Right now, he’d be no better a fit than Patrick Kane would have been when he was a cabbie-punching punk. No thank you – at least not until he grows up.

Posted by OlderThanChelios from Grand Rapids, MI on 04/19/14 at 01:52 PM ET

OTC, I think you are missing something. Proteau is not saying he received the criticism because of race or implying he wouldn’t have received the criticism had he been a different race. What Proteau is arguing is that the perception is there and the degree of criticism is elevated. I really believe there is a perception that anytime a black athlete gets in trouble or says or does something controversial, a lot of white people view it differently than if it were done by a white athlete. “Oh, here’s another black athlete acting the fool.”

Does Richard Sherman get the level of criticism if he makes those statements and he’s white? If it were Evander Kane - rather than Patrick Kane - who attacked that cab driver, would the outrage have been more severe.

Anyways, I think this is what Proteau is arguing. Proteau is not saying Kane didn’t earn criticism - but I think his argument is that the degree and magnitude is more severe because of his race.

The other thing is - besides Ladd, there isn’t a ton of tried-and-true leadership in Winnipeg. They’ve had coaching instability. Kane doesn’t have any heroes to look up to on Winnipeg - he’s one of the top guys and there are no highly-skilled, highly-successful, high-character veterans there that he can look up to and receive mentoring from. If the Wings got Kane, I don’t think this kind of activity goes away. That dressing room and that coach and management team don’t tolerate that kind of stuff. But more importantly, there are guys you have to respect. There’s an ethic and a culture on this team that doesn’t exist in a lot of places - for sure not in Winnipeg. That culture and ethic are just what Kane needs.

Posted by VitoLambruski on 04/19/14 at 02:13 PM ET

Avatar

I made a mistake in my last post - I meant to say “I DO think this kind of activity goes away.”

Posted by VitoLambruski on 04/19/14 at 02:15 PM ET

perfection's avatar

right?

look at Teletubby Sheahan as an example. Despite his breakout year, we haven’t heard a peep about last year’s arrest OR his arrest for MIP in college a couple years earlier. He’s a red wing now. He’s also not a little kid anymore. Kane will be fine. On the Jets or elsewhere.

Posted by perfection from LaLaLand on 04/19/14 at 02:27 PM ET

Primis's avatar

Maybe if the Jets started winning, fans wouldn’t feel the need to nitpick everything?

Posted by Primis on 04/19/14 at 05:17 PM ET

shanetx's avatar

Kane doesn’t have any heroes to look up to on Winnipeg - he’s one of the top guys and there are no highly-skilled, highly-successful, high-character veterans there that he can look up to and receive mentoring from. If the Wings got Kane, I don’t think this kind of activity goes away. That dressing room and that coach and management team don’t tolerate that kind of stuff. But more importantly, there are guys you have to respect. There’s an ethic and a culture on this team that doesn’t exist in a lot of places - for sure not in Winnipeg. That culture and ethic are just what Kane needs.

right?

look at Teletubby Sheahan as an example. Despite his breakout year, we haven’t heard a peep about last year’s arrest OR his arrest for MIP in college a couple years earlier. He’s a red wing now. He’s also not a little kid anymore. Kane will be fine. On the Jets or elsewhere.

Who was Darren McCarty’s captain and head coach?

Probert’s?

 

Posted by shanetx from Floydada, Texas on 04/19/14 at 07:00 PM ET

OlderThanChelios's avatar

oh lord. yeah, it’s Obama’s fault totally. racism doesn’t exist. never has. just a “card” that spineless liberals play to get free stuff. yeah, that’s a healthy worldview there.

Posted by perfection from LaLaLand

I never said racism doesn’t exist. It absolutely does. And, just for the record, it exists on both sides. If you doubt that, read the things that indivuals like “Rev.” Wright and Louis Farrakhan have said and written.

My point is that Obama and Holder pull out the race card every time they legitimately get criticized for something. It’s their way “out” with the media. And every time the media buys into that, they make it just that much easier for others to use the race card to excuse other legitimate criticism of a black person – whether that person is a politician, an athlete or a common citizen.

Posted by OlderThanChelios from Grand Rapids, MI on 04/19/14 at 08:06 PM ET

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Paul Kukla founded Kukla’s Korner in 2005 and the site has since become the must-read site on the ‘net for all the latest happenings around the NHL.

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