I first started hockey blogging in October 2003, and did so for two reasons: (1) an aversion to hockey message boards and the many jerks that populated them. (i.e. those snotty little beggars for whom the catch-phrase “I live in Mom’s basement” was destined to be their mantra for the next 37 years); and (2) my interest in politics—once a great preoccupation and the only other topic I could imagine writing about—spiraled downwards at the exact rate at which the number of people blogging about politics increased (*political blogs of any partisanship give me a bigger headache than Wings fans).
So in nearly 5 years, I’ve only ever had one firm rule: never mix politics and hockey. But today presents a good reason to break that rule, if only to prove why it exists.
It is the case of John McCain, his love of #99, and the weird way that ventriloquism skills must be valued in political circles.
Jason Cohen at Can’t Stop the Bleeding reflected today on a piece he recently published in Texas Monthly about sports and Presidential candidates. In writing it, he struggled to figure out a sporting association for John McCain but ultimately settled on boxing as McCain was a boxer in the Navy.
But then Cohen spotted this article (via Greg Rajan) in Newsweek magazine which would suggest NHL hockey may have been a better choice.
In Newsweek, Howard Fineman tells this story:
If the need arises and the range is close, Mark Salter will edit John McCain in midsentence. After 19 years at each other’s side, neither man gives it a second thought.
When a writer for The New Yorker was interviewing them last year about their latest best-selling book, the talk turned to hockey and the Arizona senator’s admiration for Wayne Gretzky, who coaches the Phoenix Coyotes. “Wayne Gretzky is one of the all-time best American athletes!” McCain proclaimed. But even before his boss finished speaking, Salter had spotted a slip-up: the hockey legend is from Ontario. “Yes,” Salter interjected, “Gretzky is one of the best American athletes … from Canada!”
Cohen titled his post at CSTB, “And Pepe Sanchez Is One of the Best American Athletes from Argentina.”
To that, perhaps we can add that Alexander Ovechkin may be one of the best American athletes from Russia. Or then there’s Mats Sundin—- shall we just call him the best Canadian athlete ever born in Sweden?
Alas. Nobody wins when you mix hockey and politics, and I’m not sure who looks worse in this situation… Americans? Politicians? Or just hockey fans in general, who might appear to be too stupid to know the difference between the US and Canada?
No matter how you look at it, it’s all just proof-positive that when you mix hockey and politics in conversation, the collective I.Q. of the room will dip by a good 30 or 40 points.
*a big kiss to the friend who made sure I didn’t miss the CSTB piece today. cheers!