A Little Respect

Back of hockey player skating while tapping teammates gloves on the bench.

Written by: Lianne Castelino

Published: Sep 13, 2020

Originally published: March 29, 2011

Yes, I have a huge bee in my bonnet.  Actually it’s more of an elephant at this point, so bear with me.

The uproar, frustration, analysis over headshots and violent hits in hockey is on the operating table, being poked, prodded and studied by anyone and everyone – players of all ages and sizes, coaches, referees, medical professionals, the C-suite, and parents.

We are all focused on scrutinizing the outcome – concussions – but what about the symptoms?

I’m of the firm belief that the root of this increased violence in the sport is an inherent lack of respect — for the opponent, for the game, for each other.

Talk to any NHL oldtimer — and you don’t have to go back that many decades – and they’ll likely agree.  They played in an error of strategy, skill and little equipment.  It was all about bettering the opponent within the rules.  The fierce competition, physicality, sheer will to win were not the least bit compromised because of an underlying respect.

More and more though the respect component in hockey is being eroded.  I see it at different levels and it is disturbing.  Respect is being elbowed out by one main culprit – money.  It’s couched in a variety of ways  of course —- “a win at all costs’ attitude, pandering to companies/corporations who write pay-cheques or provide funds, a greater emphasis on entertainment to sell tickets and the ever-famous parent/coach/staff member who is living vicariously through their kids/players.

Parents should be concerned.  Minor hockey associations should be concerned.  The NHL should be concerned.

Respect takes a long time to earn and very little time to lose.

There are plenty of respectful people playing, coaching and supporting hockey at all age levels, capabilities and leagues.  They should be applauded for their conduct.  The professionals though set the bar.  A flagrant cheap shot, headshot, bodycheck is a blatant lack of respect – period.  The trickle down effect is well underway whether we want to believe it or not.

We simply pay lip service to conduct and the rulebook if we don’t follow it or enforce it.

I really don’t see what else needs to be analyzed here.

Imagine for a second what a violent check in hockey looks like.  Pick one – Zdeno Chara on Max Pacioretty, Matt Cooke on (fill in the blank).  Now imagine the same hit with neither player wearing equipment.  Different perspective, powerful point.

At the end of the day, it’s about how we treat each other — at home, in the rink, in our cars, on the street.  Anything outside of respectful conduct, is simply an excuse, and a cheap one at that.

Related content – Web Video interviews:

Hitting & Headshots in Hockey

Teaching Kids Civility

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