It’s Time To Stop Criticizing Emotion In Hockey

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The game of hockey is truly a beautiful game. The skating, the speed, the dangles, the lettuce, Henrik Lundqvist, all of it is beautiful. There is nothing quite like the camaraderie of a hockey club. And to paraphrase Herb Brooks (Kurt Russell) in Miracle, everything a hockey player does is for the betterment of the club.

There is one problem however with the game of hockey.

Here is an example of a big time hockey no-no. Slamming and breaking your stick as a goalie exhibits playing with emotion. This is the biggest issue around the game of hockey.

The big issue isn’t the player showing emotion. It’s the stigma surrounding the game of hockey. Again, there is beauty in the game of hockey, and a player’s personality is one of them.

Age Before Beauty

In the National Hockey League there seems to be a need to ‘earn’ everything. Earning ice-time? A contract? Earning a letter? All of these are the right achievements to earn. Earning the right to have a personality on the ice? Absolutely not. When a player realizes their role and what it would take to play professionally, they need to play that role.

There were people that find this to be a negative on Buchnevich. Many in the hockey community believe that Buchnevich needs to ‘grow up’ and ‘keep it together better’. The young forward could not care less about “the tank;” he wants to play well and succeed and his passion comes out.

Did Gretzky need to ‘grow up’ after this clip? No, he showed emotion and passion for his team and organization, somehow this is different because it’s Gretzky.

The hockey community all came together in support of Hank’s raw emotion. This clip still makes this young fella misty-eyed. Am I blogging while crying? Yes, you are all welcome for my tenacity. Regardless of the emotion, it was fine for Hank but not fine for Buch.

Bunch of Jerks

The majority of this post stems from a ‘Bunch of Jerks’ in North Carolina. Regardless of my opinion of Don Cherry, this is an agreed sentiment. Granted, he went a step beyond what most people are saying, however it is a common belief.

“These guys, to me, are jerks,” Cherry said last month. “ . . . And I’ll tell you one thing, they better not do this in the playoffs . . . This is a joke. Young men expressing themselves for joy of winning. You don’t do this thing in professional hockey. What are these guys? Jerks or something? I know what I’m talking about. You never do anything like that. They’re still not drawing. They’re a bunch of jerks as far as I’m concerned.”

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Adapt or Fail

It is time for the National Hockey League community to get in tune with this generation. When it comes down to it, it’s just a game. These lucky few are playing a game and getting paid to do so.

To quote a great scene from Moneyball.

“We’re all told at some point in time that we can no longer play the children’s game, we just don’t…we don’t know when that’s gonna be. Some of us are told at eighteen, some of us are told at forty, but we’re all told.”

There shouldn’t be a stigma around passion. There shouldn’t be a stigma around disappointment or emotion. It should be embraced that players want to win the same way that fans want to see them win.