Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Editorial Exchange: Flawed Hockey Beats No Hockey

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Editorial Exchange: Flawed Hockey Beats No Hockey

Article excerpt

Editorial Exchange: Flawed hockey beats no hockey

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An editorial from the Waterloo Region Record, published Jan. 8:

There is the dream of hockey and then, sadly, there is the reality.

The fantasy world still fondly clung to by millions of diehard Canadian fans bursts with youngsters playing shinny on frozen, sunlit ponds and kids whizzing around the backyard rinks their dads flooded in quest of becoming another Wayne Gretzky. It's a bone-chilling arena where bleary-eyed parents sip coffee at 6 in the morning while their offspring learn to skate, where the home team always wins the shootout and bruised but unbowed heroes are forever hoisting the Stanley Cup or biting into the Olympic gold just claimed by Team Canada.

Reality sometimes includes these things. But it also has more. There's the just-ended, 113-day, money-fueled feud between millionaire players and billionaire owners that snuffed out half of this year's National Hockey League season, not so very many years after a similar spat wiped out every single scheduled NHL game and left frustrated fans watching championship darts on TV.

Anyone who still wonders what the professional game is really about -- and didn't appreciate that the Toronto Maple Leafs managed to become the world's most valuable hockey franchise without regularly making the playoffs or winning a championship in nearly half a century -- now has their answer.

It's all, or mainly, about percentages -- and what cut of the cash intake falls into the players' laps and what make its way into the pockets of the owners. The latest hiatus in an NHL season ended when the players agreed to drop their cut from 57 per cent to 50 per cent. Fifty per cent of something seems to beat 57 per cent of nothing.

Nor has the real world of late been kinder to raging hockey nationalists who live and die by the motto that it's our game -- Canada's game. After sailing unbeaten through the preliminary round of the recent world junior hockey championship in Russia, Canada's young men stumbled last week in a loss against the Americans, then fell on their faces against the Russians to come home, uncharacteristically, without a medal of any denomination. …

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