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Datsyuk is not perfect. Datsyuk is not a monster.

Pavel Datsyuk could have worded his answer to a question loaded with all but a literal bullet given that he was in a room full of a dozen Russian journalists and a couple dozen fans this morning much, much better than he did. But there are about eight billion ways that he could have said something much worse than leaning upon his status as a Russian Orthodox believer when asked about Russia's anti-homosexuality laws the day before he and the Russian Olympic orientation campers are meeting with none other than Vladimir Putin.

My best pal in the entire damn world is bisexual. I do not support any sort of even head-nodding toward discrimination towards gays, lesbians, bisexuals, transgender folks or any other *#$%@& human being for being any *#$%@& "different." Even people in the United States live in a country where some sexual assaults are borderline acceptable (ask Dr. Phil) and where the, "It's my religious belief and you have to respect that, too" statement is supposed to excuse bigotry against all sorts of "differences."*

But the context in which Datsyuk made his statements, at Sovetsky Sport's offices in Moscow, the day before heading to Sochi to meet Comrade Putin himself, was just as vicious as the reactions to his statements have been--and I'm sure that the Ryan Lamberts of the world have had to change their shorts repeatedly to keep up with their venomous remarks.

We all knew that the first Russian NHL'er who made any sort of statement about the laws that wasn't, "I don't care if this costs me a spot on the Olympic team, I think they're terrible and I support them in no way, shape or form" (and Datsyuk could have at least said "no comment") was going to be witch-hunted, and those who enjoy insisting that "superstars have fallen!" based upon remarks sans context have had a field day today. A Russian Christmas, if you will.

Pavel Datsyuk remains my favorite Red Wings player. What he said today disappoints me, but it does not mean that I'm going to tear up my Datsyuk hockey cards or no longer wear my Datsyuk t-shirt. I do not expect Pavel Datsyuk to be a perfect individual who agrees with everything I do. I expect him to be a man with faults.

I sure as *#$%@& know that context was everything today, and in the middle of a 2-plus-hour Q and A session in front of a packed house, yes, Datsyuk took the "easy way out." But he also did so to shut people up and move the *#$%@& on without stepping on more than one hand grenade.

He's got some 'splainin to do as to whether he really is in lock-step with every tenet of the Russian Orthodox church** when he's on this side of the Atlantic, but I'm not about to put another log on the fire below the stake.

His conduct in terms of actively pursuing literature and films that broaden his horizons, his charitable work and his passion for helping others--especially kids--speak more toward his character than one poorly-attempted deke, dangle and fall into a rut on the ice does.

I want to hear what Datsyuk has to say when he's no longer facing getting kicked off the Olympic team, when his daughter's in school and he's over here taking part in training camp before I even dare to attempt to suggest that he's a horrible person.

Discrimination, bigotry and hatred are wrong. What Datsyuk said today wasn't right by any stretch of the imagination. But it may have been the only acceptable answer, and while it was not courageous, it may have been necessary to save his ass.

Datsyuk's history as a hockey player and human being suggest that he is more than one cannon fodder remark's worth of righteous and self-righteous indignation and vilification.

And that's all I've got to say about that.

*And, for the record, it is entirely possible to respect differing religious faiths AND to respect different political beliefs AND to respect different beliefs about the "differences" that separate us without accepting intolerance, bigotry or hatred.

Just because I'm a non-partisan politically and an existentialist religiously speaking doesn't mean that I'm a wishy-washy who quotes Soren Kierkegaard.

**I know Catholics who--gasp--believe in birth control! Jews and Muslims who love bacon! Dyed-in-the-wool Republicans who support gay marriage and social welfare! Democrats who believe in gun rights! The world is a crazy place where people don't have to believe everything they're told to believe!

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Comments

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George Malik's avatar

If I’m going to be vulgar, I would suggest that we put a betting pool together about Lambert’s pant-changes. I’m going with eight.

Posted by George Malik from South Lyon, MI on 08/22/13 at 04:15 PM ET

Avatar

He’s got some ‘splainin to do as to whether he really is in lock-step with every tenet of the Russian Orthodox church** when he’s on this side of the Atlantic,/quote]

He doesn’t have to explain anything. It’s his religion and his private life.

Posted by thehuds on 08/22/13 at 04:20 PM ET

TeamDub's avatar

So tedious.

So, if Datsyuk, due to his strong religious beliefs, believes that homosexuality is inherently unnatural and wrong, that makes him a “bigot?” I’m sorry, I must have missed the part of the story where Datsyuk was firebombing gay clubs.

Born that way? Fine. I tend to believe that. Does that mean that everyone has to accept, support, and advocate something that they believe is wrong just because “non-partisan” types like you throw hissy-fits and throw around the word bigot?

This place… ain’t what it used to be.

Posted by TeamDub from The gratch. on 08/22/13 at 04:20 PM ET

Chris in Hockey Hell's avatar

George, I’ll take the over on that.

As far as Pavel’s opinion. I couldn’t give any less of a shit about it either way. How does his opinion effect my life? None. It doesn’t. Even if he comes out and says “Satan tell me hate queer” I still wouldn’t give a shit. It doesn’t concern me. I have no problem with the gay community but If Pavel said he hated gays, my life would go on just fine. He still plays for the Wings, he’s still a badass, and I’m going to root for him either way. I say leave him the hell alone.

Posted by Chris in Hockey Hell from Ann Arbor, MI but LIVING in Columbia, TN on 08/22/13 at 04:20 PM ET

Bradley97's avatar

George,

Datsyuk said the only thing he could say. As Primis pointed out in the previous posting on this topic, the law is a tool for Putin to use as he sees fit. It’s that simple. This was not about Datsyuk’s participation in the Olympics, this was about the safety of his family. So he simply said he is Orthodox. His follow up line was his way of saying “take it or leave it, I cannot make any further comments on this issue” in very few words.

I understand why you and others want a player of Datyuk’s caliber to take a stand, but only a fool would do so. Putin is old school. He straight out of the KGB for #$%@‘s sake. What did everyone expect someone as smart as Datsyuk to do? Hang himself?

Everybody needs to take a deep breath here. This is about Putin further consolidating his power and using homosexuality in place of old school Russian Pogroms against Jews! It’s sick. It’s twisted. And there’s not a #$%@ thing anyone can do about it. Especially not the United States of America, former leader of the free world!

It’s the sad reality we live in right now. Sad.

And that’s all I have to say about why Datsyuk is not going to elaborate on his comments.

As for the meaning of the word “bigot,” I did look it up, and this is what it means:

“WordNet (r) 3.0 (2006)”
bigot
  n 1: a prejudiced person who is intolerant of any opinions
      differing from his own

I’ve seen a lot of that in the previous postings. Just how someone who has not taken part in this discussion views what’s being said. Take it or leave it. It’s all I have to say.

Posted by Bradley97 on 08/22/13 at 04:26 PM ET

TeamDub's avatar

As for the meaning of the word “bigot,” I did look it up, and this is what it means:

“WordNet (r) 3.0 (2006)”
bigot
  n 1: a prejudiced person who is intolerant of any opinions
      differing from his own

I do not support any sort of even head-nodding toward discrimination towards gays, lesbians, bisexuals, transgender folks or any other *#$%@& human being for being any *#$%@& “different.”

Huh.

Posted by TeamDub from The gratch. on 08/22/13 at 04:28 PM ET

George Malik's avatar

If somebody doesn’t support or agree with homosexuality, that’s their own damn business, at least if you’re not a professional athlete.

This blog accepts people of all sorts of personal, political and religious beliefs, and what you do or do not support is up to you.

I happen to believe that no one should be discriminated against because of the differences that separate us. That does not mean that I think someone is a bad person for believing that Bradley Manning is a weirdo for insisting that his name is in fact Chelsea or that someone who is a vegetarian thinks that it’s creepy to eat meat. We can all believe what we believe and still speak the common language that is hockey.

Posted by George Malik from South Lyon, MI on 08/22/13 at 04:29 PM ET

TeamDub's avatar

We can all believe what we believe and still speak the common language that is hockey.

Then PLEASE DO THAT.

Posted by TeamDub from The gratch. on 08/22/13 at 04:31 PM ET

George Malik's avatar

The word is “discrimination” in the public sense of the term. I don’t expect people to “support” gays. I understand that to some folks, such behavior is abhorrent. That belief is up to you.

There’s a line between abhorrent and hatred to the point of endorsing discriminatory behavior or violence toward a group whose “isms,” behaviors or beliefs we don’t agree with or find distasteful.

Posted by George Malik from South Lyon, MI on 08/22/13 at 04:33 PM ET

Avatar

I think it’s better if we just stick to hockey talk.

Posted by fantasy hockey fanatic on 08/22/13 at 04:34 PM ET

George Malik's avatar

We live in a world where we cannot talk about hockey and only hockey all of the time.

Posted by George Malik from South Lyon, MI on 08/22/13 at 04:35 PM ET

bezukov's avatar

George, I agree that we need to wait before passing judgement on whether or not Datsyuk harbors any hatred towards gays.  But tough situation or not, at best he ducked a chance to make stand.  Instead he opened the door for every other athlete on Team Russia to duck too. 

I don’t believe he would be kicked off the Olympic team for that, nor do I believe his family would be on the receiving end of state retaliation. 

Nor do I hate the guy because he might have one bad opinion.  On balance he seems like a good person who might need an attitude adjustment. 

So tedious.

So, if Datsyuk, due to his strong religious beliefs, believes that homosexuality is inherently unnatural and wrong, that makes him a “bigot?” I’m sorry, I must have missed the part of the story where Datsyuk was firebombing gay clubs.

Posted by TeamDub from The gratch. on 08/22/13 at 05:20 PM ET

The Mormon Church kept black people of the clergy until the 70’s because it thought that being black was inherently unnatural and wrong.  Did that make them bigots?  I think it did.  Here we have the same excuse but a different minority.

Posted by bezukov from the kids are alright. on 08/22/13 at 04:36 PM ET

Avatar

I do not support any sort of even head-nodding toward discrimination towards gays, lesbians, bisexuals, transgender folks or any other *#$%@& human being for being any *#$%@& “different.”
Huh.

So, not supporting discrimination is the same as isupporting laws that discriminate in you mind?

Posted by Garth on 08/22/13 at 04:37 PM ET

Guilherme's avatar

Dude came from halfway around the world, raised on a different country, on a different religion, even on a different politic landscape. He’s gonna have different opinions, what’s the problem with that?

Take that, by what most Russians, we are the weirdos. Take that, in India, the 1,24 million residents treat hamburgers as sacred. Take that some Koreans eat dogs, and some people think you’ll come back next life as a grasshopper. Take that some people are Blues fans.

People are different, have different backgrounds which lead to different ways of viewing the world. It’s rather strange that when it comes to a nation accepting homossexuality, some won’t accept one man’s opinion.

(and he only told us what his religion is!)

Posted by Guilherme from Brazsil on 08/22/13 at 04:39 PM ET

bezukov's avatar

George, I agree that we need to wait before passing judgement on whether or not Datsyuk harbors any hatred towards gays.  But tough situation or not, at best he ducked a chance to make stand.  Instead he opened the door for every other athlete on Team Russia to duck too. 

I don’t believe he would be kicked off the Olympic team for that, nor do I believe his family would be on the receiving end of state retaliation. 

Nor do I hate the guy because he might have one bad opinion.  On balance he seems like a good person who might need an attitude adjustment. 

So tedious.

So, if Datsyuk, due to his strong religious beliefs, believes that homosexuality is inherently unnatural and wrong, that makes him a “bigot?” I’m sorry, I must have missed the part of the story where Datsyuk was firebombing gay clubs.

Posted by TeamDub from The gratch. on 08/22/13 at 05:20 PM ET

The Mormon Church kept black people out of their clergy until the 70’s because it thought that being black was inherently unnatural and wrong.  Did that make them bigots?  I think it did.  Here we have the same excuse but a different minority.


Posted by bezukov from the kids are alright. on 08/22/13 at 05:36 PM ET

This way of saying it makes more sense.

Posted by bezukov from the kids are alright. on 08/22/13 at 04:41 PM ET

Guilherme's avatar

But tough situation or not, at best he ducked a chance to make stand.

Does he want to make a stand? In not taking it, did he took a stand for the other side?

Can’t someone be indifferent? Can’t the guy just want to play hockey and live his life?

Not being pro-gay does not make you anti-gay.

Posted by Guilherme from Brazsil on 08/22/13 at 04:42 PM ET

bezukov's avatar

Dude came from halfway around the world, raised on a different country, on a different religion, even on a different politic landscape. He’s gonna have different opinions, what’s the problem with that?

Take that, by what most Russians, we are the weirdos. Take that, in India, the 1,24 million residents treat hamburgers as sacred. Take that some Koreans eat dogs, and some people think you’ll come back next life as a grasshopper. Take that some people are Blues fans.

People are different, have different backgrounds which lead to different ways of viewing the world. It’s rather strange that when it comes to a nation accepting homossexuality, some won’t accept one man’s opinion.

(and he only told us what his religion is!)

Posted by Guilherme from Brazsil on 08/22/13 at 05:39 PM ET

Herm, with all due respect, that reasoning can excuse anything.   I hate to be the guy who brings Nazi’s into this, but I could say the same thing about their figureheads.

Posted by bezukov from the kids are alright. on 08/22/13 at 04:43 PM ET

Forlorn in VA's avatar

I don’t believe he would be kicked off the Olympic team for that, nor do I believe his family would be on the receiving end of state retaliation.
Posted by bezukov from the kids are alright. on 08/22/13 at 05:36 PM ET

I disagree, strongly.  I think there is a very real danger in speaking out against Putin if you are Russian.

Besides, even if he does think that homosexuality is wrong, we do not know that.  I refuse to label him a bigot or a hypocrite based on one comment that can be interpreted multiple ways.

Posted by Forlorn in VA on 08/22/13 at 04:43 PM ET

Guilherme's avatar

Herm, with all due respect, that reasoning can excuse anything.  I hate to be the guy who brings Nazi’s into this, but I could say the same thing about their figureheads.

Nazis did something. From what I’ve heard, Datsyuk never refused an autograph to a homossexual or changed his children’s school because there was a gay boy in their class.

Posted by Guilherme from Brazsil on 08/22/13 at 04:47 PM ET

bezukov's avatar

Does he want to make a stand? In not taking it, did he took a stand for the other side?

Can’t someone be indifferent? Can’t the guy just want to play hockey and live his life?

Not being pro-gay does not make you anti-gay.

Posted by Guilherme from Brazsil on 08/22/13 at 05:42 PM ET

Professional athletes are the biggest bullshitters alive, am I really supposed to believe that he couldn’t throw a pitch over home plate?  If that was his best effort at expressing indifference, then Datsyuk’s sense of humor is overrated by a country mile.

Posted by bezukov from the kids are alright. on 08/22/13 at 04:47 PM ET

Forlorn in VA's avatar

I don’t agree that he owes us any explanation for his comment once he’s back in the states, either.  His daughter lives in Russia year round, and Putin has a long arm.

Posted by Forlorn in VA on 08/22/13 at 04:49 PM ET

bezukov's avatar

I disagree, strongly.  I think there is a very real danger in speaking out against Putin if you are Russian.[/qoute]

Well I guess were gonna have to differ on this one.  To me that would be like Michael Corleone whacking the POTUS.  There would be too much heat internationally IMO. 

[qoute]Besides, even if he does think that homosexuality is wrong, we do not know that.  I refuse to label him a bigot or a hypocrite based on one comment that can be interpreted multiple ways.

Posted by Forlorn in VA on 08/22/13 at 05:43 PM ET

Some folks are willing to make that call, but I’m with you.  I’ll wait to hear more.

Posted by bezukov from the kids are alright. on 08/22/13 at 04:51 PM ET

mrfluffy's avatar

He’s got some ‘splainin to do as to whether he really is in lock-step with every tenet of the Russian Orthodox church** when he’s on this side of the Atlantic, but I’m not about to put another log on the fire below the stake.

I’ll disagree with that, George. I don’t think he owes anyone anything.

Yes, he took the ‘easy way out’ when answering a loaded question, and maybe he truly feels that way.

In any case, that his opinion affects anyone on this board when he’s never once given any ounce of feeling one way or another on this particular subject is laughable.

Posted by mrfluffy from A wide spot on I-90 in Montana on 08/22/13 at 04:52 PM ET

Avatar

He’s gonna have different opinions, what’s the problem with that?

The problem is supporting laws that discriminate against people based on something those people don’t control.

Are you really asking what’s wrong with that?

Posted by Garth on 08/22/13 at 04:53 PM ET

bezukov's avatar

Nazis did something. From what I’ve heard, Datsyuk never refused an autograph to a homossexual or changed his children’s school because there was a gay boy in their class.

Posted by Guilherme from Brazsil on 08/22/13 at 05:47 PM ET

That fair enough, but thats not my point.  My point was the “different strokes” argument can be used to excuse any behavior, so in that light, it stops being an excuse.

Posted by bezukov from the kids are alright. on 08/22/13 at 04:53 PM ET

mrfluffy's avatar

Not being pro-gay does not make you anti-gay.

Posted by Guilherme from Brazsil on 08/22/13 at 05:42 PM ET

Brafuckingvo.

This.

And for what it’s worth, I think Russia’s laws are vile and disgusting.

Posted by mrfluffy from A wide spot on I-90 in Montana on 08/22/13 at 04:54 PM ET

Avatar

In any case, that his opinion affects anyone on this board when he’s never once given any ounce of feeling one way or another on this particular subject is laughable.

So, since he has never said anything before, it shouldn’t matter what he says now?

Uhhhh…

Posted by Garth on 08/22/13 at 04:54 PM ET

Forlorn in VA's avatar

Posted by bezukov from the kids are alright. on 08/22/13 at 05:51 PM ET

Did you just compare the Russian head of state to a fictional mob character and Pavel Datsyuk to the President of the United States, or am reading you wrong?

Posted by Forlorn in VA on 08/22/13 at 04:54 PM ET

Avatar

Not being pro-gay does not make you anti-gay.

Supporting laws that make homosexuality illegal does.

Posted by Garth on 08/22/13 at 04:54 PM ET

mrfluffy's avatar

So, since he has never said anything before, it shouldn’t matter what he says now?

Uhhhh…

Posted by Garth on 08/22/13 at 05:54 PM ET

“Uh” what Garth?

What he said over there affects you how?

I’m waiting to hear how seven words that didn’t explain a damn thing has wounded you.

Posted by mrfluffy from A wide spot on I-90 in Montana on 08/22/13 at 04:56 PM ET

Primis's avatar

I don’t agree that he owes us any explanation for his comment once he’s back in the states, either.  His daughter lives in Russia year round, and Putin has a long arm.

Posted by Forlorn in VA on 08/22/13 at 05:49 PM ET

It’s both a blessing and yet unfortunate that we in North America don’t understand this sort of thing.

It’s funny though how quick some people are to call Russia “backwards” with their ways and beliefs… and yet in the same breath don’t seem to grasp just HOW different and backwards they are, nor the state of fear and terror Russia lives in and forces onto those they view as opponents.

K.  G.  B.  Putin used to *run* the KGB.  All the awful, unspeakable things the KGB was doing, Putin directed them to be done.  I don’t know when those three letter stopped meaning anything to people but… there aren’t many organizations whose acronym should strike fear into people like “KGB”.

Posted by Primis on 08/22/13 at 04:57 PM ET

Guilherme's avatar

Supporting laws that make homosexuality illegal does.

When the hell did he say that? He let us know what his religion is, that’s it. Some Orthodoxes might be pro-gay. Some liberals might be anti-gay. Some atheists just don’t care as long as they don’t marry another dude.

Dude’s a hockey player, never had political tendencies and is asked a hot potato question that has no right answer? His reply was basically “I’m not comfortable with this question”, and reading anything other than that is stupid.

Posted by Guilherme from Brazsil on 08/22/13 at 05:00 PM ET

J.J. from Kansas's avatar

Man, I’ve seen the word Nazi so many times today. Godwin’s law is sure getting a workout.

Was every German from 1933 to 1945 evil?

Luz Long actually died in combat for the Wehrmacht. Was he a monster?

Posted by J.J. from Kansas on 08/22/13 at 05:00 PM ET

bezukov's avatar

Did you just compare the Russian head of state to a fictional mob character and Pavel Datsyuk to the President of the United States, or am reading you wrong?

Posted by Forlorn in VA on 08/22/13 at 05:54 PM ET

Well, Putin is a lot like a mafia boss, and if Datsyuk ran for President I’d probably vote for him.  cool smile

Posted by bezukov from the kids are alright. on 08/22/13 at 05:01 PM ET

mrfluffy's avatar

Was he a monster?

Posted by J.J. from Kansas on 08/22/13 at 06:00 PM ET

Possibly. Uwe Krupp obviously was a Nazi because he’s German, right?

I’m so glad he was out on a dog sled because I’m not so sure I could stand the disappointment of having a Nazi on my favorite team.

Anyone catch the sarcasm of this ‘form’ of ‘logic’ they’re roping Datysuk with?

Posted by mrfluffy from A wide spot on I-90 in Montana on 08/22/13 at 05:03 PM ET

bezukov's avatar

Godwin’s law is sure getting a workout.

Posted by J.J. from Kansas on 08/22/13 at 06:00 PM ET

Guilty as charged.

Posted by bezukov from the kids are alright. on 08/22/13 at 05:08 PM ET

Guilherme's avatar

That fair enough, but thats not my point.  My point was the “different strokes” argument can be used to excuse any behavior, so in that light, it stops being an excuse.

I’m not sure “thinking” qualifies as a behavior, I say behavior fits better with actions taken. So, since we’re talking about the way he thinks, the “different strokes” argument (?) makes sense.

Alson, there’s a difference between excuses and motives.

Posted by Guilherme from Brazsil on 08/22/13 at 05:10 PM ET

The Meal's avatar

After his comment today, I know absolutely nothing new about Datsyuk’s personal views on homosexuality.  And that’s exactly how he wanted it.  I can’t fault an athlete for using their popularity as a soapbox for sharing their opinions on society.

Posted by The Meal on 08/22/13 at 05:12 PM ET

The Meal's avatar

*for NOT using their popularity…

Posted by The Meal on 08/22/13 at 05:13 PM ET

bezukov's avatar

I’m not sure “thinking” qualifies as a behavior, I say behavior fits better with actions taken. So, since we’re talking about the way he thinks, the “different strokes” argument (?) makes sense.

Alson, there’s a difference between excuses and motives.

Posted by Guilherme from Brazsil on 08/22/13 at 06:10 PM ET

Difference in magnitude?  Yes.  But in the principle of my argument?  No.  I’m about to get dinged for another Godwin’s law citation, but would you shrug and say its “different strokes” if we were talking about the thoughts and opinions of a white supremacy group?  I suspect you wouldn’t let that kind of thinking off the hook so easy.

Posted by bezukov from the kids are alright. on 08/22/13 at 05:17 PM ET

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The Malik Report is a destination for all things Red Wings-related. I offer biased, perhaps unprofessional-at-times and verbose coverage of my favorite team, their prospects and developmental affiliates. I've joined the Kukla's Korner family with five years of blogging under my belt, and I hope you'll find almost everything you need to follow your Red Wings at a place where all opinions are created equal and we're all friends, talking about hockey and the team we love to follow.