The Malik Report
by George Malik on 08/22/13 at 05:00 PM ET
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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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.