Trending Topics is a column that looks at the week in hockey, occasionally according to Twitter. If you're only going to comment to say how stupid Twitter is, why not just go have a good cry for the slow, sad death of your dear internet instead?
Well it took almost 100 days but we've finally done it: We've finally found the thing that made this lockout the worst.
You'd think it was the pissy Gary Bettman presser in Toronto, or the various points at which there was a total lack of communications between the sides for no reason, or the whole podium fiasco, or all Claude Giroux getting a "neck injury" overseas, or the legal filings, or the fact that we're almost 100 damn days into the lockout at all. But you would be wrong.
Because the worst part of the lockout — and frankly I'm a little shocked it took this long to come to the fore — is that we now officially have the first dumb Canadian lawmaker suggesting that a bunch of amateur teams in that country should be allowed to compete for the Stanley Cup.
It's been kicked around by lazy columnists who have nothing better to say about the lockout because, "WOULDN'T IT BE GREAT?"
And so it was that on Tuesday afternoon, Brent Rathgeber, a member of the Canadian Parliament representing Edmonton and St. Albert, Alberta, wrote a blog post saying that it's pretty clear to him that the Stanley Cup should be awarded this season, NHL playoffs or no.
"The Stanley Cup does not belong to the NHL; it belongs to Canada," he wrote in his dumb blog post. "This is both historically and legally accurate."
(Of course, it's only historically accurate if you've not checked a list of Cup winners published after 1993.)
He also pointed out that when the Stanley Cup was originally created as a way to promote amateur hockey in Canada, as though events from 1893 to 1915 should have any bearing on what happens in this grand sport 100 years later.
Yeah, buddy, and bubble wrap was invented as a kind of easy-to-clean wallpaper. What's your point?
So here's Rathgeber's "brilliant" idea (author's note: I put "brilliant" in quotes to indicate that it is the opposite of that): "[W]hy not hold a national competition to determine the best amateur (or beer league) team in Canada?"
I think the answer is pretty clear here: Because it's the Stanley [expletive] Cup.
It doesn't seem to me it was all that long ago that some of the finest athletes on the planet were hoisting it above their heads after a tough two-month playoff and grueling 82-game regular season, for which they'd prepared their entire lives. This is the trophy, widely recognized as the greatest in all of sports, that was raised by Bobby Orr and Wayne Gretzky and Mario Lemieux and Patrick Roy and Steve Yzerman and Sidney Crosby after they gave their all to win it. True legends of the game. Guys you'll tell your kids about having watched, if you were lucky enough to do so.
This plan here, well, it doesn't exactly shower the most coveted trophy in sports in glory.
If anything, giving it out to the Fighting Beavers from the Porcupine Plain, Saskatechewan, 40-plus league, captained by a part-time Zamboni driver who played the championship game half-buzzed off a couple Molsons he drank in the dressing room toilet stall, seems like it does nothing but devalue the thing. I don't like the idea of a guy having to fake a bad cough to get off work so he eat Cheerios out of the Cup in his basement apartment on his traditional day with it. Hell, it's bad enough Kris Draper's kid dropped a hot one in it.
Imagine if there was an NBA lockout that wiped out the season (this is assuming David Stern was dumb enough to shutter the league once, let alone twice, so bear with me), and some nobody U.S. Representative from Wyoming proposed they give the Larry O'Brien Championship Trophy to the best And-1 team in the country?
They'd be laughed out of office, and rightly so.
Ah but, argues Rathgeber, a bunch of Torontoians sued in Ontario Superior Court to get the trophy awarded to a non-NHL team during the 2005 lockout; or, as Rathgeber, clearly a well-studied lover of the game, called it, "the 2005 strike." Say, Brent, how'd that one turn out?
"And they won (sort of); in an out of court settlement, it was agreed that the Trustees have 'the opportunity but not the obligation to award the Stanley Cup to a non-NHL team in any year in which the NHL fails to organize a competition to determine the Stanley Cup Winner.'"
The thing is, though, if Jurassic Park taught us anything, it's that just because you have the ability do something doesn't mean you should. There's probably not a law that explicitly says kittens can't drive cars, but it's still not a good idea to put one behind the wheel.
Rathgeber closes by threatening to advance a Private Member's Motion — which is just as good a double entendre as the best "hilarious" beer league team name — to… do something, I guess(?), if the lockout isn't resolved by the end of January. That's not much of a threat, obviously. If anything, it might convince Gary and Don to kick back and let the season not-happen, just so this no-name politician ends up embarrassing the sport moreso than they did. No small feat, but Rathgeber seems capable.
Honestly, this is yet another one of those "This Is Our Game" things Canadians pull every year — during World Juniors, or if a Canadian team that's not Vancouver qualifies for the playoffs — that appeals to the basest jingoism in every Canadian who thinks, sure they may not have a chance to win the Cup themselves, but their kid might one day, or whatever.
This couldn't be any more evident than it is in Rathgeber's penultimate sentence (and please forgive the double exclamation points, sometimes it's hard for one to remember when one is an allegedly respectable politician, and not a 12-year-old):
"How absolutely Canadian!!"
Sorry, but the only thing this idea is "absolutely," is dumb.
Who's better than the Winnipeg media?
There was an actual Twitter controversy this week, and that's something that's always exciting for Trending Topics.
As you probably know by now, Evander Kane posted a genuinely stupid photo of himself pretending a bunch of money was a Zack Morris-sized cellphone, and people got all up in arms about it. For one thing, no one likes it when rich people actually flaunt their wealth, especially if they do so while wearing sweatpants or, in the case of Mike Commodore a few years back, no pants.
This is especially true at a time when, from the NHLPA's perspective, we're supposed to feel bad about how hard-up all these guys are without their regular paychecks, or whatever. This is especially especially true when you consider how awful Kane was during his brief stint in the KHL (1-0-1 in 12 games, and a minus-8).
Among the unamused was Mike Stubbs of 1290 CJBK in London, Ontario, who's the radio voice of the London Knights. Boy is he ever mad at Evander Kane for having a lot of money and tweeting something stupid. Wow he's steamed. So steamed that he thinks Kane should be kicked out of the NHLPA.
For what, exactly, is unclear. NHLPA members tweet dumbass stuff all the time, and again, Mike Commodore did this exact same thing a year ago in a manner that could be described as potentially more inflammatory (except that his picture obviously didn't happen during a lockout).
Makes you wonder about Stubbs' position on Tyler Bozak repeatedly tweeting pictures of himself in blackface, and whether that, too, should be grounds for removal from the players' association? You'd think minstrel-y would be more offensive than a guy having a lot of money, but then I'm not Mike Stubbs.
Of course, the true champions of the whole Twitter flap has, predictably, been the Winnipeg media. You would think the pom-pom waving fanboys in this press corps would rally around Kane, or at least write this off as "boys will be boys" kind of stuff, but instead it has made all efforts to demonize him.
The most hilarious example of this was in the Winnipeg Free Press, where Gary Lawless, I swear to god, said that the Jets will eventually have to trade Kane, who just got a six-year contract at a very affordable $5.25 million per year. For tweeting a photo.
"The Jets won't be ready to give up on Kane just yet," Lawless wrote just a small number of paragraphs after acknowledging that it was an honest mistake with no ill intent behind it. "But he's making it difficult to base the franchise's foundation on him. Kane's act will eventually change or it will force a trade. Bet on the trade."
In bringing up all this negative stuff about Kane, and jeez the only thing missing from this list is "burned down an orphanage," Lawless even brought up the now-disproven allegations that Kane was skipping out on restaurant bills all over town
You'll note, by the way, that as far as I can tell, Lawless never penned any such article when it was revealed in mid-July that Ondrej Pavelec was arrested for drunk driving in his native Czech Republic. But man, he was pretty. interested in Kane's. extension.
Apparently having a few too many and getting behind the wheel is not as big a deal as having a some fat stacks on your person and tweeting about it. Certainly, no one thought to call it a mistake for the Jets to give a legitimately not-good goaltender the kind of money the Jets did. To be fair to the Winnipeg media, though, Pavelec apologized, and Kane said he didn't see the big deal. (Except, of course, that Kane did apologize.)
The difference between not trading Pavelec, who was busted for DUI weeks after signing a big-money deal, and doing so with Kane, who posed for an unfunny photo, is that the latter is actually good at hockey at the NHL level. He scored 30 goals last season. He's 21 years old. He's signed long-term.
Here's a tip from an old Twitter pro, just for Evander Kane: Next time, say your account was hacked.
Then it would go well with the guys covering the Jets.
Pearls of Biz-dom
We all know that there isn't a better Twitter account out there than that of Paul Bissonnette. So why not find his best bit of advice on love, life and lappers from the last week?
BizNasty on job opportunities: "Should I mention 'being sued by NHL' on my McDonald's resume?"
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