?

Log in

No account? Create an account
Personal rehabilitation and the community - Barnstorming on an Invisible Segway [entries|archive|friends|userinfo]
Marissa Lingen

[ website | My Website ]
[ userinfo | livejournal userinfo ]
[ archive | journal archive ]

Personal rehabilitation and the community [Jul. 6th, 2013|08:58 pm]
Marissa Lingen
[Tags|]

So yesterday the Wild upset me and Tim by getting rid of Setoguchi and using the money to get Matt Cooke. I know this means nothing to you, so let me give you some background: Matt Cooke is a goon. This is the nicest language I can use, because I don’t want to distract anybody with exactly how angry I am: it is an objective fact that he is a goon, that his hits are dirty and his play unacceptable.


And my team is keeping him around. Is paying him a non-trivial amount to do so. Is associating him with people who are interested in professional hockey in general, and with the Minnesota Wild in specific.


This is, to say the least, pretty upsetting.


See, hockey is a rough game. Anybody who talked about the unique physicality of a hockey game would be right; professional hockey is really pretty unique that way because it consists of very large men on an enclosed slippery surface. And because people have not chosen to take steps to make it not that way, which they could do. But there are hits and then there are dirty hits. Hits to the head. Slashes to tendons. Things that fans of a player might want to look at and say, “That was an accident,” but they just can’t. Because it wasn’t any accident. Because when you are a hockey player, it is your job to have enough control over yourself and your play not to have that kind of accident.


Matt Cooke has seriously injured several other players with head shots. The management of the Wild knows it. And they have chosen to employ him anyway. I love my team. They entertain me. They do really fun things, and I love, love having them in town. There’s no one else in the game quite like them, for me. And they have chosen to employ Matt Cooke.


So…Matt Cooke has assured the world that he’s rehabilitating himself. That he is turning over a new leaf and becoming a new kind of player. Tom–I’m sorry, why was I thinking Tom? Chuck Fletcher has assured us all in the Strib today that he believes Cooke is going to be a fine contributor to the team and not cause the kind of problems he’s caused before.


And me, I believe in rehabilitation. I do. I believe that people are allowed to become better people. I believe in helping people learn from their mistakes.


But there’s got to be a line drawn, and my question is where is that line drawn? Where do somebody’s repeated mistakes make you think, “Okay, buddy, why don’t you become a better person tending bar at Applebee’s somewhere, or selling Kenmores at Sears? Why don’t you become a better person in a field that is not quite so fraught with baggage as this one? Run a soup kitchen. All the best to you. Get out of my field.”


I think Matt Cooke is past that line for me. Because not only is this a person who has had egregious dirty hits. He’s had them after he said he was going to change his game. After his behavior was specifically pointed out as unacceptable; after his own coaches and teammates said that it was the kind of stuff the game did not need. After. This is not an inexperienced kid who has never played the game before. This is not a clumsy guy who just picked up hockey later in life. He had his chance to learn appropriate behavior in his field as a young person, and then he had another chance when people noticed that he hadn’t learned it.


And as long as a major company in his profession continues to employ Matt Cooke, even if they say he’s turned over a new leaf, I just don’t believe that he will. I believe that they’re enabling him, and they’re using one of my favorite teams in my favorite sport to do that. And that upsets me. It makes me angry. The guys on the other teams should not have serious reason to fear when one of our players is on the ice. Fear that they’ll get checked into the boards, sure, that’s hockey as it is played. But fear that they will be deliberately concussed or crippled, given injuries that will drive them out of working in their field of choice, not accidentally but deliberately? No. That’s not okay. And when it’s my team, in some sense they’re doing it in my name.


I want somebody to grab the guys in juniors and in the minors who are watching Matt Cooke and say, “Look, this is not a way to be. This is not a way to get a career. This is not our game.” I want somebody in the community to intervene–and to intervene believably–to show younger men that Cooke is not their role model and that this behavior will not be accepted. I want to catch them before they become this guy. Cooke’s not the first. I wanted it with Todd Bertuzzi, whose name in this house is That Little Bastard Bertuzzi. I’ve wanted it with half a dozen other players at least. Because this kind of bad behavior can taint an entire field. Can hurt people and ruin lives. And if you pay the guy, you’re supporting it.


You know what I mean?




Originally published at Novel Gazing Redux

LinkReply

Comments:
[User Picture]From: alecaustin
2013-07-07 02:09 am (UTC)
"The standard you walk past is the standard you accept," seems relevant.

Though if you're paying for that standard, you've gone further than accepting it - you're endorsing it.
(Reply) (Thread)
From: zwol
2013-07-07 02:21 am (UTC)
This totally oughta be an op-ed column in the Strib.
(Reply) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: blue_hat_guru
2013-07-08 02:02 am (UTC)
Concur.
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: desperance
2013-07-07 05:50 am (UTC)
In the UK, people have started taking legal action against sports players who deliberately injure other players on the field. Does that not happen (yet) in hockey?
(Reply) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: timprov
2013-07-07 06:13 am (UTC)
Bertuzzi pled guilty to assault in 2004 and there's a $50m civil suit pending. Marty McSorley was convicted of assault in 2000. Dino Ciccarelli was convicted of assault in 1988 and is the only one of the three to get jail time - one day.
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: desperance
2013-07-07 03:33 pm (UTC)
Thanks! It seemed unlikely that we would be ahead of you in concepts of litigation...

Also: one day? Are there no mandated minimum sentences for specific offences?
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: redbird
2013-07-07 06:05 pm (UTC)
I suspect nothing is going to change until team management and/or owners are charged (and maybe convicted) for assault/homicide on the basis of depraved indifference: if you hire a known thug and hand him a weapon, there's a plausible argument that even if you didn't tell him to commit a crime, you knew he might and either wanted it or didn't care. Right now, the worst a head coach risks is losing his job, which he also risks if he doesn't win enough games or otherwise dissatisfies the owners. Balancing possible unemployment against possible jail time might change that, at least for someone who doesn't actually think that crippling opposing players is a good thing rather than excusing it to himself as "that's how the game is played."

A successful civil suit against a team and its manager on similar grounds, for lost wages from a career-ending injury, plus pain and suffering and punitive damages, might do it, because that could change the calculations made by the people who are thinking in terms of selling tickets and television rights (some of whom probably aren't really thinking of the players as people).
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: desperance
2013-07-07 06:13 pm (UTC)
"Depraved indifference" is a lovely term, and one I hadn't come across before...
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: timprov
2013-07-07 10:47 pm (UTC)
This is why we're closely watching the suit over the Bertuzzi incident, where his coach did tell him to go out and get Steve Moore.
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: mrissa
2013-07-07 10:55 pm (UTC)
That's true, the people who create your entertainment can easily be depersonalized in situations like this, and it's really best to make people stop and think about it, even if it requires a massive shift in culture.
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: buymeaclue
2013-07-07 11:57 am (UTC)
I thought of you the second I heard that news. :-/
(Reply) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: mrissa
2013-07-07 12:07 pm (UTC)
It is a shame. It is our shame.

Also I really liked Seto. So even they didn't trade Seto for Matt Freakin' Cooke directly, they found the money by getting rid of Seto, and that...grrr harumph.
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: buymeaclue
2013-07-07 05:49 pm (UTC)
I got my introduction to Matt Cooke by way of asking, "What happened to that Marc Savard guy?" Yeeeeeeeeeah. Not a great first impression, anyway.

I am twice sorry for you guys, then!
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: cyranocyrano
2013-07-07 02:55 pm (UTC)
I feel your pain. The Sharks recently traded for Rafi Torres. And admittedly he's been well behaved, so it's easier to believe him when he says baby I've changed, but it still feels wrong.

Also, I miss Seto and would gladly take him back.

Also also, I don't have any of my hockey icons on LJ any more.
(Reply) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: laurel
2013-07-07 10:46 pm (UTC)
Well, that bites. Hard.


ALso: I see what you did there.
(Reply) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: mrissa
2013-07-07 10:54 pm (UTC)
It's so nice when people do.
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: moiread
2013-07-08 12:43 am (UTC)
You Scandos and your subtlety. ♥

Edited at 2013-07-08 12:43 am (UTC)
(Reply) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: fidelioscabinet
2013-07-08 03:47 am (UTC)
One wonders just how far his new teammates might be prepared to go in letting him know he better not stray from the straight & narrow. It's one thing to say you aren't happy with someone's behavior; demonstrating that in the close confines of a team is something else.
(Reply) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: mrissa
2013-07-08 12:24 pm (UTC)
I expect that happens a lot. Particularly as an entire team can be affected even to the point of being endangered if one player has a reputation for bad behavior. I expect that the teammates don't have infinite power in this situation but might well express their disapproval of certain things.
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: wychwood
2013-07-08 10:38 am (UTC)
Hi, - I'm a lurker and you don't know me, but I really wanted to respond to you here; I hope you don't mind me popping up to disagree.

Anyway: I agree with you in general about violence in hockey, and dirty players; I am still ashamed that the team I follow decided that it was a good idea to give their money and endorsement to Dan Carcillo. I do think that it's a bad idea and a bad example, and I wish they would stop paying goons and dirty players.

Having said all of that, I think Cooke is actually a genuine counterexample. He absolutely was a dirty player, for a very long time, as you say, but this isn't just a case of him saying he was going to reform. He did say that, and I was with the 99% of hockey fandom that was highly sceptical of it, but then he actually followed through and backed it up. His play since that big suspension in 2011 has genuinely changed, and he hasn't taken the head-shots - yes, there was the Karlsson injury in February, but that looked like a genuine accident (to pretty much everyone except Melnyk). In all honesty, I think there's been more overt dirty play from Duncan Keith (who plays for the team I support, and doesn't have a bad reputation) than from Cooke, these last couple of years.

If you feel that his previous behaviour leaves him too tarnished, that he should, as you say, leave hockey and find a job elsewhere doing something else because his history is too dire, then I would still tend to disagree, but I think it's a valid argument for you to make. But I don't think it's fair to say now, in 2013, that Matt Cooke is a dirty player - I would hate to see the Hawks sign Scott or Carcillo again, or pick up Torres or Bertuzzi, but I'd be willing to give Cooke a chance, at this point. I think he really has changed, even if he took too long to get there.
(Reply) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: mrissa
2013-07-08 12:28 pm (UTC)
Oh, I don't want Duncan Keith either! I sometimes cheer for the Hawks when they're not playing a team higher in my loyalties, but even then I want them to do well and Keith to do badly. He's like the opposite of baseball's Prince Fielder that way.

I guess for me the thing is that there is always going to be a cloud over him. There's always going to be a question. I don't actually feel like people can know in their heart of hearts that the Karlsson play was an accident because of who Matt Cooke has been. It's too big an accident to be comfortable for a player with his history.
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: wychwood
2013-07-08 01:39 pm (UTC)
I guess for me the thing is that there is always going to be a cloud over him. There's always going to be a question.

Yeah, I think that's probably fair - and he has to expect that will happen. You don't get rid of a reputation like that overnight.

I think what bothered me in your post was the argument that Cooke can't change, when I do think he already has. Everything else I think we are probably more-or-less in agreement on! I wish they'd get rid of fighting, already, though I don't think it's likely any time soon.

Anyway, I hope that Cooke plays well and cleanly for the Wild, and I hope that's something we really can agree on!
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: mrissa
2013-07-08 01:50 pm (UTC)
I don't think I said he can't change. I think in fact I said that he could go rehabilitate himself. But not in the game of hockey, because it's too fraught at this point.

No one ever forfeits their right to become a better person. That is inherent to all of humanity. But sometimes they do forfeit their right to become a better player. And one of my questions here is when. Where is that line. I expect--although correct me if I'm wrong--that you're not saying there is no line, you're saying that you put it after Matt Cooke, not before. Which is fair too.

I hope that Cooke plays well and cleanly for the Wild for as long as I have to have him playing for the Wild. Yeah.
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: timprov
2013-07-08 05:18 pm (UTC)
The obvious solution is for you to trade Nick Leddy back to us for him then.
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: columbina
2013-07-08 07:58 pm (UTC)
I respectfully disagree. I watched Cooke throughout the recent Bruins/Penguins playoff series, notably his hit on McQuaid in game 1, and that was not the play of a reformed man. Nor was he being handled as one - it was very clear that Cooke was being put in the game only at times when the Penguins needed a hit man.

Mind you, I'll be the first to admit that he will never, NEVER be forgiven in Boston even if he did reform. We miss Savard too much.
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: columbina
2013-07-08 07:50 pm (UTC)
Oh, man, is THAT where the thug ended up? I'm very sorry. He gives everything he touches a bad name and it pisses me off that he keeps finding work.
(Reply) (Thread)