Kukla's Korner Hockey
by Paul on 04/16/07 at 12:00 PM ET
KK member snafu submitted the following-
The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation is the country’s public television and radio broadcaster. The CBC is also Canada’s oldest broadcast service. One of the CBC’s crown jewels is Hockey Night in Canada, not only a consistently highly-rated program but the world’s longest running sports-related production. Recently the NHL and CBC announced a new agreement that allows the CBC to continue the HNIC segment (and certain playoff games) through 2014. The NHL will receive $100 million annually from the CBC.
There is one additional institution that needs mentioning. The Coach’s Corner segment, featuring Don Cherry and Ron MacLean, appears at each intermission between the first and second periods. The segment is supposed to analyze the game at hand, happenings around the league, and offer various tips about the game of hockey. Unfortunately Mr. Cherry in several recent segments has included in his discussions the Detroit Red Wings, a venerable institution in their own right. You see, Mr. Cherry believes the Wings are too soft. He has that right as we all have a right to decide what type of hockey we prefer, be it skilled, gritty, goonish, fire wagon or even Old Time Hockey. Had Mr. Cherry stopped there, it is doubtful anyone would have noticed. However on Saturday, April 14, 2007, he singled out one of Detroit’s and the NHL’s brightest stars, not for the highlight reel plays he often does get singled out for, nor for being last year’s winner of the Lady Byng Trophy, and certainly not for leading his team atop the Western Conference and into the playoffs. Pavel Datsyuk is known and respected around the league as an excellent, highly skilled two-way forward with incredibly creative play to boot. He has led his team in scoring for three consecutive seasons, a commendable feat when one considers the level of talent the Wings possessed. He is quiet, unassuming and a team player.
So what exactly is wrong with Pavel Datsyuk? Steve Yzerman, one of the game’s legends and former teammate, considers Datsyuk the kind of player you build a team around. He should know, having played with some of the greatest players over the past 20+ years. He also has been asked to assemble a team to represent Canada at the World Championships. You see, Datsyuk comes from Russia where players are taught to stand upright and stay out of the way of shots so that a goalie can see as much of the play as possible. Mr. Cherry has decided to single out Datsyuk as the prime example of worthless European players who basically are overpaid and not worthy of their standing – or Cherry’s respect – because they [all of them] don’t block shots. Most serious fans would realize that the NHL blocked shots leader this season was Ottawa’s Anton Volchenkov. No, this was a thinly veiled attempt to smear a wonderful person.
Out came a clip of Yzerman going down in front of a couple shots. There you have it. Case closed. Only in the process of comparing these plays, Mr. Cherry denigrated Datsyuk further by pointing out that since he had nothing in the nether region anyway, why bother covering up. This point was made at least a couple of times. The abhorrence with which Mr. Cherry holds Datsyuk is incomprehensible. Singling out one of the NHL’s stars in this manner and questioning his manhood in a rather vulgar manner is beneath the standards with which the CBC should hold itself and its employees. Cherry’s xenophobia and bigotry – directed at players of European origin – are more than obvious. Mr. Cherry however outdoes himself, just when you think it isn’t possible. He brazenly declares the names of some players he prefers, and thus who clearly should be held in higher esteem. The fact that this group includes players with a history of drug and alcohol abuse and encounters with law enforcement officials is lost on Cherry. You kids out there, are you listening?
Is the CBC? Is xenophobia and bigotry the message that should be going out from one of Canada’s mostly highly-rated institutions? Is Mike Ilitch, owner of the Red Wings, happy that his team and players are continually targeted by a bigot in front of the world’s largest hockey audience- young and old alike? Is the NHL, seemingly always battling to clean up an image unfairly battered by the media, happy that star players are attacked in a vulgur manner due to an entrenched dinosaur’s nationalistic fervor? The NHL spends millions of dollars trying to market players like Pavel Datsyuk. It’s wonderful that Don Cherry can question a great player’s character in one sitting under the auspices of HNIC and the CBC for such a heinous crime. Yes, Mr. Cherry and CBC, the kids are listening.
note: In case you missed the Coaches Corner segment, see Abel to Yzerman.
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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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