I've learned to tread lightly when it comes to emasculation as a hockey chirp.
I'm a white male from suburban New Jersey who has no internal filter for language or couth; the majority of smacktalk involving gender or race probably isn't going to offend me, but that doesn't mean it isn't going to offend somebody. Alix Wright, a terrific Canucks blogger, has made the point on several occasions that hockey fans should be better than to insult a player by calling him a woman.
I don't practice what she preaches. I say a lot of things I probably shouldn't say. So do you, I imagine.
So does Dave Bolland of the Chicago Blackhawks, who has stoked the embers of their rivalry with the Vancouver Canucks by referring to Henrik and Daniel Sedin as "sisters" on WGN recently (long audio here) and criticizing their value as teammates. Comments that, of course, were picked up by the Vancouver media faster than the Sedins pick up points.
This was like catnip to publications like the Vancouver Sun, which wrote about his comments such as:
Co-host Andrea Darlas asked: "If the Sedins become Hawks, will they still be sisters?"
"Well, they'll never become Hawks," said Bolland of the Sedins. "I don't think we'd let them on our team. That'd probably be one thing. We'd be sure not to let them on our team. And, yeah, they probably still would be sisters. I think they might sleep in, like, bunk beds. The older one has the bottom one, the younger one's got the top."
We'll just assume that's a great "Step Brothers" reference, because knowing hockey players, it probably is.
Context is everything in comedy. This show as taped before a live audience. "Sedin Sisters" humor played big, both when the hosts said it and when Bolland parroted it. Same thing happened when a child asked him if he hated all the Canucks, and Bolland replied "all of them."
(That this exchange made the Vancouver Sun is teetering on the brink of absurdity. Next week's headline: "BOLLAND TO CHILD: A FAIRY WILL COLLECT YOUR DISCARDED TEETH AT NIGHT.")
Same thing happened in this exchange about visiting Vancouver:
BOLLAND: "When we go to Vancouver, we just stay in. We don't go out in that city."
Q. Patrick Kane told us that he went out for sushi and an 85-year-old woman with oxygen tubes coming out of her nose starting screaming at him.
BOLLAND: "In Vancouver, for sure. There are a lot of weirdos there. You don't wanna be out there too long. You wanna stick in your room, get room service and get out as quick as you can."
I've been to Vancouver on multiple occasions. It's one of my favorite cities. It's also one of those places where two blocks in the wrong direction takes you into a David Lynch film. Bolland isn't "talking about Canucks fans," as the Sun tried to stretch to exclaim; he's talking about the Walking Dead on Hastings.
So kudos to Wyatt Arndt of the Province for cutting through the Sun's B.S. and explaining what this interview actually was: Playing to the crowd.
Listen to the interview. If anyone was setting the tone, it was Dave Kaplan. That is the guy who kept feeding Dave the lines. The first minute of the interview has Kaplan calling the Sedins the "Sisters" and the crowd laughing like crazy. Bolland heard this and later on just played it up to the crowd. That's all Bolland was doing this entire interview. He honestly spoke for 75% of the interview, Crawford barely said anything. Bolland likes to hear his own voice and he obviously enjoys being "the funny guy" so he went with it. Look at the interview, a kid asks him if he hates some or all of the Canucks. What does Bolland say? He deadpans it and says "All of them." He is just spicing up an interview segment a bit for the home crowd.
I once went to a season ticket event and someone asked Kevin Bieksa (This was before the Chicago rivalry) "Which team do you hate the most?" and Kevin responded "We hate Toronto" and the crowd went nuts. Bieksa was just playing it up there. Bolland is playing it up here. If Bolland had gone out of his way to call the Sedins Sisters I might have had an issue with it. Like if he was doing a car commercial and all of a sudden he said "The Sedin Sisters LOVE this Volkswagon" that might have made me pause for a second. But he just responded to what he was given on this one.
"Sedin Sisters" is just titillation, red meat for the critics -- even when the critics are fellow Canucks fans. Much like it was red meat for the Boston Bruins fans when Mike Milbury called them "Thelma and Louise" in the playoffs, in an utterly misguided analogy.
And that's the only point we'll make about these otherwise harmless comments by Bolland about the Sedins: They're lazy.
"Cindy Crosby" is lazy. "Lauren Pronger" is lazy. "Danielle Briere" is lazy. These are chrips you'd hear at open mic night at Milbury's; that alone should tell you they've passed their expiration date.
Personally, the bigger news here is that a member of the Chicago Blackhawks would "be sure not to let" two of the NHL's leading scorers on their team. Now why is that?