Dropping The Gloves: No Belles, No Princesses & No Fear Here

by Jas Faulkner,  a fat but cute little ball of mad and contributing editor

What Would Queen Baudicca Do?
(wikimedia commons)

Hello to the seven of you who are reading this.  

Last week Louisiana led the charge to secede from the United States.  Okay, I wasn’t around the previous time someone  in the US tried this, but judging from contemporary reports, it seems like it turned out badly for nearly everyone involved.  Does Louisiana really want to be the little theocracy on the Mississippi that could?  Will the Republic of Texas rise again?  Hearing about all of this doesn’t make me sad so much as it makes me think like a younger sibling when everyone older starts moving out of the house.  Can I have your stereo?  Are you taking your Terry Pratchett books? If the secessionists  go away, can we keep Austin and annex it to Portland, Oregon?  Wait, Oregon wants to secede, too.  Can we just trade Oregon for Tennessee?*  Ooh. Government is HARD, y’all!

I bring this up because there has been random chatter about a Canadian league as an alternative to the nearly moribund NHL.   In the interest of disclosure, I will admit that it is far more random than the petitions that are starting to flood into the US government website that is currently a hotbed of disappointed voter butthurt. Would the NHL miss the Canadian teams?  For that matter, would the NHL actually miss Canadians?  I’m trying to picture a hockey league without Canadians and all I can come up with  is Chris Chelios screaming, “STOP HITTING ME!” at Alexander Ovechkin.

Hockey without Canada?  It’s just ugly.  It’s wrong.  It is, at best, a cold weather sport stripped of its roots. Do we really want  a context-, content-free exercise in cultural appropriation that is about as authentic as dreadlocks and a dashiki on a Kennedy?  No we don’t.

Lucky, Lucky Guy

What happened to Blake Geoffrion on Friday, November 9th was a scary reminder of  how fragile everyone is under all that armour and how dangerous hockey can be.

Blake Geoffrion had a close call. When it came out he was seeing the humour of the situation in the ambulance, it was also apparent that luck was on his side that night because he was hurt but not lost in the fog that can come from head injuries.

He’s lucky for a lot of reasons.  Some are more obvious than others. It’s easy to see how the sweet funny kid who went back to his ancestral stomping grounds has the advantage of being a part of a royal lineage where hockey is concerned. What isn’t so obvious to the casual observer is that even at a young age, Blake Geoffrion showed he was aware of how lucky he was and is.  What comes across when he’s interviewed  is that he takes nothing for granted, especially when it comes to family.  We’ve gotten some glimpses of the Geoffrions over the past week or so.  They have been gracious, mature, and all about seeing their son get well.

Here’s to holding them in the light in the weeks to come.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch…

At our last staff meeting,  our Editor-in-Chief, Bruce Hollingdrake, asked us to be more opinionated.  At the time I nodded and kept painting little Oilers logos on my nails.

Bruce glanced at my hands.

“Nice Obama logos,”  he said.

I laid my right hand down flat on the table within sight of Ryan Pike, who promptly tried to stab it with a pencil.  Oops.  Sometimes I forget he’s from Calgary.

Have I really been a wilting lily when it comes to expressing my opinion?  Maybe I have, but I also have to wonder why.  Why have I resisted?  If Bruce is correct, why have I tried to be a lady in spite of Nora Ephron’s and Molly Ivins’ entreaties for women to be anything but?  Keeping sweet, as the local patriarchy tries to dictate, has never been a priority.  Again.  Why?   In short: I got nothin’.

The truth is, it’s not like I have this huge battle to empower women as part of my job.   I am lucky in the respect because The Big Guy hires people based on talent. We are given the same opportunity to sink or swim as the men at THW.   When I started out, I was not alone in the Ladies’ Locker Room.  I shared bench space with Angie Lewis and Monica McAlister. Even though I see them often, I still miss having them around. as co-workers as well as friends. Later on, as an editor, I saw various women come for a bit, give it a try and then move on.  I saw Caitlin Campbell (who now works with me and Monica on another venture) exhibit more grace and courage than anyone in the NHLPA and NHL has even thought about attempting this year.  No one has ever worked as hard to find his or her authentic writer’s voice in the pressure cooker environment that THW can be than she did during her last two months with us.  Don’t tell her I said so, but she is one of my heroes.   Now we have emerging talent, an extraordinary group of women who enrich this masthead:  Margann Laurissa, Heidi Pope Werner, Marcy DiMichele-Sevior, Gab Fundaro, Ali Myers, Katie Flynn, and at least half a dozen others who continue to provide new and sometimes underexplored perspectives to the game.

So, let me be frank.  We are all sick of the lock out.  We’re sick of Gary Bettman. We’re sick of Donald Fehr.  Seeing them attempt to muster the energy to argue is like watching a nutria argue with a sack of yams. For what it’s worth, we have not given up on the NHL.  We have sought hockey in other places and we have found the organisations to be welcoming and not lacking for the game that is our muse and creative lifeblood.

That’s why it kills me  to read letters and see messages from people saying they’ll be glad when we cover “important” stories again.  I have news for you, these leagues and players have always been important.  We just had to take our blinders off so we could see that there was more to hockey than the thirty teams in the NHL.  The AHL, the ECHL, the KHL, and other leagues are more than just sources for occasional side trips.  Women’s hockey is just as tough as anything you’ll see on the men’s side of Div III or or the NCAA.   What has happened, aside from the weariness of trying to milk stories out of the leftovers, is that someone has left the gate open and we are now blessed the kind of free-range hockey intellectual’s Shangri La  that was really ours all along.


*Tennessee has offered to secede since I wrote that.  Colour me shocked.

Jas Faulkner



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