Small Realities

Inside the mind of Lance Schonberg

>The Rules Don’t Apply to the Next Gretzky, Buddy.

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Yesterday, an unnamed hockey Dad in Toronto reached over the glass into the player’s area to choke his son’s hockey coach. Apparently, he disagreed with the benching of his son for several shifts after the boy missed practice, the local league policy. It’s a fairly widespread policy, I think, and a good one. Someone called 9-1-1 and the police arrived shortly.

What is it about hockey that causes the brains to dribble out of some parents’ ears? Not all parents, I’d better say right away (other handy parents intervened to pull him off the coach), but you don’t hear about this kind of thing happening in other sports nearly as often as in hockey. What was the last incident of baseball rage that made the news?

I blame the culture of the NHL. Fighting has become part of the game. I should say it’s a well-established part of the game. There’s an old one-liner that goes “I went to a fight once, and a hockey game broke out.” Overpaid goons like Marty McSorley and Todd Bertuzzi end careers of other players, get a tiny fine, a short suspension, and a little community service then hit the ice to strike again. Should we be surprised that this behaviour spills out into minor hockey at all levels? Should we be surprised that parents who watch the “real” thing get over-excited and over-involved because they’ve overestimated the hockey potential of their children? In these days of road rage, lack of self-control, and refusal to take responsibility for your own actions, should we be surprised if someone assaults a coach or referee on a regular basis? After all, my kid is the next Gretzky, or whoever is the biggest star today.

The unnamed (to protect his son, whom I have great sympathy for) Dad is out on $2,000 bail after appearing in court today. He’s been ordered to attend anger management classes and is to be banned from hockey arenas in the city for some period. Not enough. When this goes to trial, I’d like to see criminal charges, major community service, and the kick in the teeth that a little jail time would bring. Not likely considering the kinds of wrist tickles that NHL goons get for worse behaviours. But maybe, since he’s not a celebrity, it might go a little differently.

Get a grip, you Tool, it’s just a kid’s hockey game.

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