In the NHL’s current procession into the gutter, the New York Islanders were the latest to announce that they wouldn’t be using rainbow jerseys or stick tape for their Pride Night. While odious on the surface, digging a little deeper it gets…slightly less odious. The Islanders have never done so, though one desperately wants someone to video the very idea presented to Lou Lamoriello and his reaction. They weren’t advertised to either, as the Rangers were at one point and all the Flyers (save one) did.
However, in the New York Post story there is one, so-hockey-it-curdles-the-blood nugget:
“The only ones they wear are produced by the league: Hockey Fights Cancer, Military and Saint Patrick’s Day.”
Gotta protect the Irish just in case some municipality wants to institute their own Whacking Day.
The NHL certainly isn’t alone in taking the money to be part of the American military machine, as we know the NFL does heartily. It’s still uncomfortable, but we’ll all be dead by the time any league is ready to not align itself with the armed forces. Even the very thought assuredly causes Gary Bettman to wet himself.
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But St. Patrick’s Day? This is the occasion that the league will enforce teams to observe? We can only imagine the moonshine-stained backlash any player might face if he refused to don the military jerseys. But I have to admit I’m desperate to see a player simply refuse to put on a St. Patrick’s Day jersey for warmups. It doesn’t even need a reason. We need this comedy in our lives.
To review: The league will stick its head in whatever sandpile it can find when it comes to standing up for the LGBTQ+ community and mumble something about individual choice. But if anyone out there just thinks green looks stupid on a particular night, the NHL will absolutely throw the book at them to preserve the comfort of Patrick from Beverly or Sully from Quincy. That’s a line you do not cross in the NHL.
There couldn’t be anything more hockey than barely half-waving at real inclusion but making the symbolism of drinking and fighting ironclad. Making the LGBTQ+ community feel welcome can wait and also depend on how anyone on any team feels about it. But green Bud light is sacred. What a way to run a railroad.
The NFL combine has always been extremely weird. It’s certainly been uncomfortable, both in how intently it’s watched by the truly lost at home and how deeply NFL teams get into it. And certainly the optics, where a heavy majority Black playing pool have their physicality measured by the mostly white staffs of NFL teams. Considering every college football game has been on TV for years now, doesn’t everyone have enough film on just about everyone?
NFLPA chief DeMaurice Smith certainly thinks it’s weird. He’s calling for an end to it. He’d rather the NFLPA run some regionalized pro days, where they can control to what depth these players are scouted and interviewed. We’ve got more than enough stories about where the combine interviews of players go completely off the rails. It would be better if player-friendly rules drafted by the union were governing these interactions.
Part of the problem is the gap between the end of both the pro and college seasons and the draft. The NFL is the only league where free agency comes before the draft, whereas the NBA and NHL run their draft right after their seasons and only a couple of months after the end of the college seasons. If the NFL were to flip it and run the draft, say, right before the NCAA tournament, teams would probably lean far more heavily into what they have on film of players. Which after all, is the real truth.
Maybe knowing how much a guy can bench or whether he runs a 4.3 instead of a 4.5 can color in some lines, but again, everyone’s got three or four years of game footage of all these guys, as well as all their scouting reports from their guys attending games. Without a combine would teams have to hire more scouts? Fine, they can certainly afford it.
And it would get us away from the visual of a bunch of white dudes measuring the length of various Black dudes’ arms or testing the strength of their knees while they’re in their underwear. They play football, their knees are close to shot. Move on.
Alright, feel-good stuff. RB Leipzig’s captain will miss his team’s next game, because he’s donating stem cells as he was discovered as a match for someone in need:
Now imagine the Skip Bayless takes about someone on these shores missing a game to do this.
Doesn’t everyone love a goal from the halfway line? If you don’t, I can only imagine the way in which you’ve been hurt: