About conspiracy theories…calling out Paul Maurice…Evander being Evander…and other things on my mind

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I cannot survive in a 140-character world, so here are more tweets that grew up to be too big for Twitter…

Let’s suppose the conspiracy theorists on Planet Paranoia are correct when they posit that National Hockey League gendarmes are overly zealous in meting out punishment to the Winnipeg Jets.

I mean, we’ve witnessed Dustin Byfuglien being banished to the sin bin simply for being big, have we not? Meanwhile, the skunk shirts look the other way when Anton Stralman of the Tampa Bay Lightning derails smurf-like Nikolaj Ehlers with a knee-on-knee hit and, scant seconds later, he renders a vulnerable Bryan Little loopy with a wallop to the head.

Dirty, rotten refs have it in for the Jets, right?

Paul Maurice

Paul Maurice

But let’s back it up for a moment. If it’s true that the Jets are getting the short end of the judicial staff, they have only themselves and their head coach, Paul Maurice, to blame.

I direct your attention to remarks made by coach PoMo and the aforementioned Little last season, at a time when the Jets were rapidly developing a reputation as an in-your-face band of ruffians and spending more time in stir than any other outfit in the NHL.

You play an aggressive, tight-gap game, you have more confrontations on the ice,” an unapologetic Maurice told news scavengers. “The concern is when you get the reputation of being the highest-penalized team, you lose the benefit of the doubt. It’s, ‘It must be a penalty, it’s Winnipeg.’ We talk about it…I don’t want to lose any of that other piece…if the byproduct being we’re taking more penalties, then we have to do that, because playing a different game won’t be to our strength.”

Here’s centre Little providing the backup vocals:

We like to play on the edge a bit. We like to make things hard on the other team. We’ve got some big guys, some fast guys that play physical. Sometimes that’s going to happen, we’re going to take penalties playing that way.”

Thus, you call the penalty parade a conspiracy, I call it the cost of doing business the Jets way. And when you cannot kill penalties, the Jets way doesn’t work.

I realize that referee Francois St. Laurent has become Public Enemy No. 1 in Jets Nation, first for turning a blind eye to Stralman’s misdeeds the other night in Winnipeg’s 6-5 loss to the Lightning in Tampa and, second, for giving Maurice the heave-ho after two periods. Let’s keep one thing in mind, though: There were two men wearing arm bands that night, the other being Dan O’Rourke. He could have ticketed Stralman for either the hit on Ehlers or Little.

Much has been made of St. Laurent being caught on camera laughing after he’d dismissed Maurice. It surely was, from a league standpoint, not a good optic. But, hey, watching a grown man lose his mind can be humorous.

After Maurice came completely unglued and was given the night off by St. Laurent, Paul Wiecek of the Winnipeg Free Press called out the Jets coach. In non-subtle language, Wiecek suggested that Maurice is very much a part of the problem in his club’s current crusade, which has turned into a total tire fire. For this, the Freep scribe has been tarred and feathered. It’s as if he has attacked motherhood. Well, I applaud Wiecek for having the gonads to take an unpopular position. Why should Maurice be a sacred cow? It’s not like he’s the second coming of Scotty Bowman. He’s been coaching in the NHL for 18 years. His clubs have made the playoffs five times in those 18 seasons. Whatever he’s been selling, not many have been buying.

As I have written, it’s the Tao of Freddy Shero that makes Paul Maurice and, by extension, his players do some of the things they do. I think of this every time I see coach PoMo dispatch Anthony Peluso over the boards, at times in tandem with the regretable Chris Thorburn. There are only two reasons why Peluso is a member of the Jets: His left fist and his right fist. Actually, there’s a third reason: The head coach believes his is a better club with the first two reasons on the roster. That, of course, is horribly misguided thinking, but it’s the Jets way.

Why do so many people assume that NHL officials aren’t disciplined for shoddy work? I harbor little doubt that someone in the league hiearchy will have a fireside chat with Francois St. Laurent. We just won’t hear about it, that’s all.

Steve Yzerman

Steve Yzerman

Is it just moi, or do others find it interesting that Lightning general manager Steve Yzerman ended rampant speculation about Steven Stamkos by advising the world that he would not be dealing his captain prior to the Feb. 29 NHL trade deadline? Speculation ceased. Similarly, GM Marc Bergevin of the Montreal Canadiens publicly squashed any notion that he’s about to move P.K. Subban. Yet in River City, mum’s the word from GM Mark Chipman and his puppet Kevin Cheveldayoff. They continue to let captain Andrew Ladd twist in the wind. It’s the Jets way, I guess.

Jennifer Jones is skipping a Manitoba team wearing Canada’s colors at the Scotties Tournament of Hearts in Grande Prairie, Alta. Kerri Einarson and her gal pals from the East St. Paul Curling Club are wearing the Manitoba buffalo on their backs. Manitoba-bred Chelsea Carey is skipping the rep from the host Wild Rose Country. All this made-in-Manitoba flavor and the Winnipeg Sun does not have a scribe on the scene. Shame, that. Blame it on the madness that prevails at Postmedia.

Buffalo, meet the real Evander Kane. Yup, he’s a wild and crazy guy who marches to his own drummer, and if that means swanning off to the Republic of Tranna for the National Basketball Asssociation all-star hijinks and missing practice, then that’s what he’ll do. Damn the consequences, which, in this case, was a one-game sit-down. Get used to it, Buffalo. There’s more to follow.

Pro boxers are a swell bunch, aren’t they? The heavyweight champion of all the world’s fist-fighters, Tyson Fury, is an admitted mysoginist and homophobe. Multi-division champion and now-retired (supposedly) champ Floyd Mayweather Jr. is a serial woman-beater who has spent time behind bars for whacking his children’s mother about the head. And now we have Manny Pacquiao going off on an anti-gay rant. If you missed it, Manny asks, “Do you see animals mating with the same sex?” (Actually, Manny, same-sex behaviour is quite common in the animal world.) He adds, “Animals are better because they can distingush male from female. If men mate with men and women mate with women, they are worse than animals.” Yo! Manny! Bite me.

Patti Dawn Swansson has been writing about Winnipeg sports for 45 years, longer than any living being. Do not, however, assume that to mean she harbors a wealth of sports knowledge or that she’s a jock journalist of award-winning loft. It simply means she is old and comfortable at a keyboard (although arthritic fingers sometimes make typing a bit of a chore) and she apparently doesn’t know when to quit. Or she can’t quit.
She is most proud of her Q Award, presented to her in 2012 for her scribblings about the LGBT community in Victoria, B.C., and her induction into the Manitoba Sportswriters & Sportscasters Association Media Roll of Honour in 2015.

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8 thoughts on “About conspiracy theories…calling out Paul Maurice…Evander being Evander…and other things on my mind

  1. Give me your theory on something. Several lines before the Leviticus verse Pacquaio quoted, there is a Bible scripture that says children who curse their father or mother shall be put to death. And of course there are many other verses that demand women who are not virgins on their wedding night be put to death, adulterers and adulteresses be stoned, etc., etc.

    This is a Leviticus verse quote by the bigot. If I am reporter worth any sort of salt, I ask him if he also believes the Leviticus command several lines earlier that children who curse their parents be put to death? What about women who are not virgins, or adulterer, should they be killed as well?

    Why do media not do their jobs and ask the logical questions to people like this. Are they scared to take on religion; are they not smart enough to know and ask; do they just not care about the LGBT community (other than reporting the insult); or do they just feel the public knows about biblical cherry-picking so why mention it (which seems an injustice to the LGBT community)? I mean not a single reporter anywhere has asked Pacquaio, or people like him, obvious questions that will put him on the spot and show his total Biblical inconsistency. You’re a former reporter and still a writer; why are people like this allowed to saw abhorrent things without any intellectual challenge whatsoever from the media?

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    • I’m not sure what the answer is, Rick, but I think you’ve hit on something with the suggestion that they might not care about the LGBT community. During my 30 years in mainstream media, I did not know a single gay sports reporter. Not one. That includes newspapers, radio and television. It simply isn’t an issue with jock journalists.
      When Michael Sam came to the Canadian Football League, they were all over it. Not because they cared about a gay man, but because a gay guy playing pro football was a juicy story. Since Sam disappeared, you haven’t read word one about LGBT issues in Canada’s mainstream sports sections or on their websites. Why hasn’t anyone tracked Sam down to do something in-depth on him? Because they don’t care about LGBT issues. None of them are gay.
      Same thing with Russia’s anti-gay propaganda law. The scribes pretended to be all hot and bothered about it before going to the Sochi Olympics, but once there they seldom wrote about it. Once the Games were over, they haven’t given it a second thought.
      It’s no different than domestic violence, really. Mainstream jock journalists have mostly given Floyd Mayweather Jr. a free pass. When Ray Rice was found out to be a wife beater, mainstream media trashed Roger Goodell more than they did Rice. Domestic violence was a hot topic for the sports scribes for about a month, but you never see them writing about it anymore. Jose Reyes has been suspended by Major League Baseball pending his court case on domestic violence charges, but you don’t see major outtakes on it because it doesn’t hit close enough to home. If it doesn’t touch them personally, they don’t care.

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      • That makes a lot of sense. I wish not knowing someone in your own work circle didn’t affect your personal moral compass. But as you suggest, it likely does.

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      • No, not having anyone in the newspaper biz who could relate to LGBT people had no bearing on me and my journey. It’s just unfortunate that there are no gay sports scribes, in that they cannot relate to the challenges when an LGBT issue arises in sports.

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  2. I guess you and I disagree, nicely, on one thing. I don’t think you need to have fellow LGBT scribes to do your job when someone calls a segment of society ‘worse than animals’ and quotes a biblical version that advocates their death. A proper response from the media should be dictated by basic humanity and decency, whether you have co-horts in the profession or not.

    I agree with you completely that ‘I don’t really care’ is the reason they don’t write about the hypocrisy. I just think when the comments are this egregious, about any group, that they should care…whether there are people in their profession or not. But I’m an idealist lol. Cheers.

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  3. I’m certainly not disagreeing with you on any level, Rick.
    Yes, the proper response would be to scold Pacquiao for his offensive remarks, whether one is gay or not, but that just isn’t how it works. Quite frankly, there is a large portion of the population that is absolutely tired of hearing about gay issues. They view the LGBT collective as chronic whiners.
    Many of us, of course, know differently. But many people believe an imagined “gay agenda” is being forced down their throats.
    I’m an idealist, too, but I also recognize the reality that many, many people in the sports media simply do not care enough about human rights issues vis-a-vis the gay collective to write about it.

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  4. This is my last comment, but you’re right, people think the LGBT community is always asking for stuff. The biggest mistake that LGBT advocacy groups make is that even they themselves refer to “gay rights'” when they should always make it clear that all they are asking for is equal rights, the right to be treated the same as other minorities.

    I would add that if this boxer had said that black people (or Jews or Asians) were worse than animals, and had folowed that up with a biblical scripture that endorses slavery, the boxer would have been crucified by the media. But it’s just LGBT people, the last bastion of enabled discrimination, and so the hypocrisy of his born-again ‘faith’ essentially went unchallenged. This will change, but for now the equal human rights of LGBT people are an exceptionally small sidebar in terms of the media’s importance. And I honestly don’t believe that they would exhibit this disinterest if any other minority had been named.

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  5. Fully agree, Rick.

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