Screen Shots: Hockey Canada, Bobby Ryan and Puljujarvi's Future
It’s time once again for a Screen Shots column. Regular readers of this feature will know we examine a few hockey topics, in smaller portions, and offer opinions and analysis for your entertainment. Let’s move on to it immediately:
– Hockey Canada’s time under a Canadian government committee’s microscope continued this week, and the organization did not come away from it with an improved image. To the contrary – details about an alleged 2018 sexual assault and Hockey Canada’s role in paying out millions of dollars to victims only heightened – rightfully – calls for widespread change to the structure of organized hockey in this country.
The Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage featured many politicians, including Member of Parliament Peter Julien, who blasted Hockey Canada’s actions regarding numerous alleged incidents of sexual abuse. “I believe Hockey Canada has failed at its task to protect athletes who are victims, public who are victims,” Julien said. “It seems you had to be criticized severely…it seems you had to have a knife put to your throat to change,” added MP Adrienne LaRouche, who accused Hockey Canada CEO Scott Smith of “(using) money to protect your image”.
Although politicians are wont to grandstand, none of the members of the Committee were wrong to rip Hockey Canada. Smith said he would not resign from his position unless directed to by Hockey Canada’s board of governors, but that’s the problem right there, isn’t it? With this type of rot permeating the entire organization, nothing less than the resignation of Smith and the board of directors should guarantee a new and much-improved approach to making the sport safer for everyone even remotely connected to it. Relying on the same people who were around while damaging matters were covered up is not a proper solution. And the people who should replace them, by and large, should be women. For too long, Hockey Canada has been an enclave for old caucasian men, and that’s something that must change.
If we’re to believe hockey really is for everyone, actions, and not words, need to reflect that progressive mindset. If Smith and the Hockey Canada board of governors think this will blow over and they’ll be back to doing business as usual, they’re sorely mistaken. The more we discover about their grievous errors in judgment, the clearer it is the status quo is not the answer.
– Former NHLer Bobby Ryan had an unfortunate public meltdown this week, getting arrested for public intoxication at Nashville’s International Airport Monday. The 35-year-old Ryan publicly owned his setback from alcoholism recovery, saying on Twitter Wednesday, “Today is day 1 (again). Mostly embarrassed, but I shouldn’t be. Today I’m waking up and choosing better.”
While it’s crucial Ryan talks honestly about his drinking issue, this is the type of situation that calls for empathy and support for him as he tries to find his way back to the right road. Alcoholism is a lifelong addiction that takes constant work to keep at bay, and anyone who cheered Ryan on as an NHLer should take a moment to pass along their best wishes to him. Hopefully, he is finding the help necessary to ensure he doesn’t humiliate himself like this again.
– Finally, the Edmonton Oilers completed Part One of disengaging from forward Jesse Puljujarvi this week when they signed the 24-year-old to a one-year, $3-million contract. While at first glance that may seem like a sign that Puljujarvi will be back in Edmonton, the reality is Oilers GM Ken Holland needed to lock down the youngster with cost certainty to find a new home for him, as both sides seem intent on doing.
Where could Puljujarvi land? One place that makes sense is Seattle, a city in which Puljujarvi could continue attempting to grow as a player without the white-hot intensity that comes with playing in a Canadian market. The Kraken have only $2.1 million in salary cap space, so the Oilers may need to retain some salary to make a deal work, or involve another franchise in any trade for Puljujarvi.