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The Arrogant NHL

from Jack Todd at the Montreal Gazette,

If there is one word that describes the National Hockey League as run by Gary Bettman (in cahoots with the likes of Jeremy Jacobs and Murray Edwards) it is arrogance.

Arrogance toward the fans through the endless lockouts.

Arrogance toward the players.

Arrogance in their dealings with the IIHF and the IOC.

Arrogance toward the game of hockey itself, which Bettman & Co. regard as their private plaything, to do with as they please.

That’s why superstar Ilya Kovalchuk’s decision to return to Russia is a watershed moment. Kovalchuk isn’t the first, but he’s the biggest: the NHL can no longer claim the best players in the world play here, because it’s no longer true.

continued

Filed in: NHL Teams, New Jersey Devils, NHL Talk, | KK Hockey | Permalink
  Tags: ilya+kovalchuk

Comments

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I’m waiting for the Todd article supporting Tim Thomas’ right to walk away, but Kovy going back to mother Russia is a better way to prove his point. As if there are two organizations in the world more arrogant than the IOC and IIHF.  FIFA can barely keep up with the IOC.

Posted by hockey1919 from mid-atlantic on 07/15/13 at 09:13 AM ET

Nathan's avatar

Most arrogant sporting organizations in the world… probably a three-way tie between the IOC, FIFA, and FIA.

I dislike me some Gary Bettman, but this article is hyperbole. The NHL absolutely can still say they have the best players in the world, because it is true. They can’t say they have ALL the best players in the world, but this is a technicality. And on that technicality, the NHL has never truly had ALL the best players in the world. So this isn’t really new.

Posted by Nathan from the scoresheet! on 07/15/13 at 09:58 AM ET

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Jack Todd knows a thing or two about fleeing responsibility. We can only hope he will flee to Russia as well.

Posted by timbits on 07/15/13 at 10:09 AM ET

Red Winger's avatar

Wow, this article is just bizarre. Methinks it was penned around a campfire late at night after a few cold ones were downed.

Arrogance is personified by any organization that is “international”, it’s just the nature of the beast.

The NHL is the shy kid in the corner compared to the IIHF or IOC

Posted by Red Winger from Sault Ste Marie on 07/15/13 at 10:36 AM ET

bezukov's avatar

Jack Todd knows a thing or two about fleeing responsibility. We can only hope he will flee to Russia as well.

Posted by timbits on 07/15/13 at 10:09 AM ET

Every time a Jack Todd article is posted on KK, just “set it and forget it,” because you’re about an hour away from somebody making a stupid comment about his defection to Canada.  Never mind that:

-his behavior during Vietnam has no bearing on his ability to comment on sports or the cogency of his arguments
-there were very serious ethical issues surrounding the Vietnam war, such as the question of American war crimes, the need for US involvement in Vietnam, the draft, etc., on which reasonable people could differ
-you likely don’t know on what grounds he made his decision to defect
-did he not have a “responsibility” to himself and his own ethics?
-patriotism is a weak starting point for any argument or counter argument

Shall I go on?

Posted by bezukov from the kids are alright. on 07/15/13 at 11:16 AM ET

awould's avatar

Posted by bezukov from the kids are alright. on 07/15/13 at 11:16 AM ET
well said.

Posted by awould on 07/15/13 at 11:43 AM ET

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When the discussion involves accountability and integrity, which the Kovulchuk desertion to Russia is all about. Commenting on Todd’s own desertion is totally relevant.

Posted by timbits on 07/15/13 at 01:22 PM ET

OlderThanChelios's avatar

...there were very serious ethical issues surrounding the Vietnam war, such as the question of American war crimes, the need for US involvement in Vietnam, the draft, etc., on which reasonable people could differ

As a draft-age young man in the late sixties, one who vehemently opposed the U.S. involvement in Vietnam, I was faced with two separate decisions similar to Todd’s. My first decision came when I was drafted. Would I accept assignment to Ft. Knox, KY or would I leave for Canada?

I ended up choosing a middle ground, demanding and being granted military conscientious objector status. I went to Ft. Sam Houston in Texas, was trained as a medic and eventually given orders to go to Korea (a posting that in 1970 was often the first place from which medic replacements for Vietnam were plucked). So, should I go to Korea or should I leave for Canada?

One of my fellow military C.O. buddies chose the latter (and, to this day, I don’t know what happened to him). I chose to go to Korea, and the reason came down to a simple statement I read by Samuel Clemens (Mark Twain): “Patriotism is supporting your country all the time and your government when it deserves it.”

When I returned from Korea, I made it my mission to oppose the government’s actions in Vietnam. Like the other vets I marched with, we did it because it was the right thing to do for our country.

Todd chose to flee. He chose to make his statement about the war in his way. Others of us chose to make our statement in our way. I like to think our statement ended up carrying more weight because we proved our first loyalty was to our country, not to ourselves.

Posted by OlderThanChelios from Grand Rapids, MI on 07/15/13 at 01:59 PM ET

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his behavior during Vietnam has no bearing on his ability to comment on sports or the cogency of his arguments

My point is that there is no cogency to his argument at all.  To say that the IOC and the IIHF are not as arrogant is just beyond bizarre. Since I’m sure most employers would not allow their employees to go work for a competing entity and be willing to shut down their business to do so without any compensation. However, his articles are more often than not tinged with his politics and why his past is usually relevant, the same as mentioning xenophobic any time Don Cherry’s or Mike Milbury’s name is brought up when criticizing a European Player. 

You cannot ignore his past since it informs his present writing. He has an angle and if he didn’t he could have written the same article when Tim Thomas went into his “bunker” (note the crazy Tim Thomas meme is as tired as the soft Euro) and didn’t. I’m sure free expression and the arrogance of the NHL never made it past his keyboard in that case. 

Kovalchuk wasn’t the first, you could say Bobby Hull was or you could say Tim Thomas did the very same thing at the start of last season. You have players that have now made enough money that they play at their own discretion.

Posted by hockey1919 from mid-atlantic on 07/15/13 at 02:02 PM ET

bezukov's avatar

When the discussion involves accountability and integrity, which the Kovulchuk desertion to Russia is all about. Commenting on Todd’s own desertion is totally relevant.

Posted by timbits on 07/15/13 at 01:22 PM ET

I guess I overlooked the striking similarities between not honoring a negotiated NHL contract and choosing not to participate as a conscript in the Vietnam war.  Upon reflection, those seem like completely equal considerations.  I assume you also have access to the multi-million dollar contract Todd signed with the US government.  We’ll need to see that before we can decide once and for all that we should never listen to anything Jack Todd says. 

And while we’re on the topic of accountability and integrity… Whether you agree or disagree with Todd’s rationale, it takes a lot of personal accountability and integrity to put your money where your mouth is and leave your native land.  Something, I suspect, you have no experience in doing.  He chose to honor his personal ethics despite the risks of being a man without a country and he accepted that people like yourself would carelessly anathematize and slander him.  What kind of person doesn’t have the courage stand by their ethics when its unpopular?  What kind of person swallows their morals and goes along with behavior they regard as unethical?  Answer me that before you trash people in such a manner.

Posted by bezukov from the kids are alright. on 07/15/13 at 02:32 PM ET

J.J. from Kansas's avatar

I guess I overlooked the striking similarities between not honoring a negotiated NHL contract and choosing not to participate as a conscript in the Vietnam war.

Kovalchuk did honor the contract and so did the Devils. They honored the part where the contract may be mutually ended.

Everything Kovalchuk did fit within the confines of the NHL’s bylaws, the Collective Bargaining Agreement, and the wording of the very contract he signed. He walked away from $77M because the Devils let him do so.  There is zero effective truth to the idea that the contract was not honored when it was legally ended.

 

Posted by J.J. from Kansas on 07/15/13 at 02:44 PM ET

bezukov's avatar

Posted by hockey1919 from mid-atlantic on 07/15/13 at 02:02 PM ET

For the record, I think this article was distilled stupidity.  To say the NHL is no longer the most talented hockey league in the world is ridiculous.  I don’t have a good recollection of what his words were on Tim Thomas, and I am not challenging your interpretation insofar as that goes.  If you say this article is inconsistent with past writings, you’re probably correct.  That’s a level of understanding I’m willing to accept on the basis of hearsay.  I just don’t think Todd’s wartime behavior has anything to do with it, nor do I think it’s fair to make judgments about his character from the platform of a hockey blog.

Posted by OlderThanChelios from Grand Rapids, MI on 07/15/13 at 01:59 PM ET

I should take a moment to say that I respect those who made the decision to go, as I respect the decision you made OTC.  I have never faced such an awful decision, and I am thankful for that.  I extend my full gratitude to those who have preserved me from that reality.  Thank you.

Posted by bezukov from the kids are alright. on 07/15/13 at 02:48 PM ET

bezukov's avatar

Posted by J.J. from Kansas on 07/15/13 at 02:44 PM ET

On that point I stand corrected.  Thanks for clarifying JJ.

Posted by bezukov from the kids are alright. on 07/15/13 at 02:49 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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