Ronnie Shuker

Ronnie Shuker is an associate editor with The Hockey News. He brought his philosophy and journalism graduate degrees to THN in 2011 and has been living the dream since. By day he mans his desk, crushing copy and weaving yarns for the magazine. By night he’s either at home or in the press box watching dump-truck loads of hockey.

Why it’s not cool to wear the jersey of a player who’s younger

Ronnie Shuker
(Photo by Dave Sandford/NHL)

It’s this editor’s proudest moment in three years at The Hockey News.

The email was in response to his “Fan Faux Pas” article in the May 26, 2014 edition of the magazine:

Ronnie Shuker writes that “wearing the jersey of a player who is younger than you” is the No. 1 hockey fan fashion faux pas (Inside Hockey, May 26). So fans over the age of 45 should not wear a jersey with a current player’s name on the back? How moronically ageist is that? A senior Blackhawks fan who grew up watching Stan Mikita and Pierre Pilote shouldn’t rock Jonathan Toews’ No. 19? I wonder if that young punk whippersnapper Shuker will feel the same way when he gets up there in age?
Hart Stoffman, Lake Echo, N.S.

“Whippersnapper”? That’s all kinds of awesome.

Stoffman wasn’t the only fan that took issue with the list, particularly No. 1. Many voiced their views via Twitter, so much so that the debate calls for context and rationale.

First, a disclaimer (from the original article): “fans can do, wear, say, shout, scream or yell whatever the heck they want, short of verbal or physical violence. They’ve paid their money, and the M.O. of any sports zealot should be to cut loose and have fun.”

Now the claim: it’s not that fans can’t wear a jersey of a player that’s younger – it’s just not cool to do so.

Yeah, not at all cool, in any way whatsoever, for a middle-aged fan to wear, say, a Jonathan Toews jersey. (Players’ parents are exempt.) When it comes to being a fan, there’s a fine line between support and idolatry. Wearing the jersey of a team is support, wearing the jersey of a player 20 years younger is idolatry.

It’s not that idols are a bad thing. It’s that they’re child’s play.

Really, idols are for children.

As a kid, said editor’s were Steve Yzerman and Wendel Clark. As he grew older, however, he grew out of them. Case in point: he rode an elevator up to the press box at the Air Canada Centre with Yzerman once last season. Twenty-five years ago he would have been wide-eyed and tongue-tied at the sight of ‘Stevie Y.’ Now Yzerman is just the GM of the Tampa Bay Lightning.

So what are fans in their mid-40s and older supposed to do? It’s a fair question, but there’s an easy answer: wear their team’s jersey without a player’s name on the back. That’s where allegiances should lie anyway. Players move on, through trades, free agency and retirement, but real fans stick with their team. Recall that well-worn hockey cliché: “play for the crest on the front, not the name on the back.” Substitute “cheer” for “play” and the same goes for fans.

That said, if a fan really must have a name on the back, at least wear the jersey of a player who’s older. If that means wearing one of a retired player, so be it. To Hoffman’s point above, legends like Stan Mikita and Pierre Pilote would be fine names for Chicago fans to have on a Blackhawks jersey.

After all, it’s not about fashion, it’s about coolness.

As offered to fans in the original article, “Feel free to tweet your agreement, disagreement or hair-raising hostility to this list at @THNRonnieShuker.”

Ronnie Shuker is an associate editor at The Hockey News and a regular contributor to the thn.com Post-To-Post blog. Follow him on Twitter at @THNRonnieShuker.

For more great profiles, news and views from the world of hockey, subscribe to The Hockey News magazine.

Study: Rising visor usage varies heavily based on age and birthplace

Ronnie Shuker
Taylor Hall (Photo by Andy Devlin/NHLI via Getty Images)

Bryan Berard, Al MacInnis, Ian Laperriere, Manny Malhotra, Chris Pronger, Marc Staal. See a thread? All of them suffered severe eye injuries, some of which wound up as career-enders. No one in the group was wearing a visor.

Follow the thread further: each was born in North America.

That’s no mere coincidence. According to a recent study in the Journal of Sports Medicine, evidence suggests there’s a strong cultural undercurrent that determines whether or not a player is likely to wear a visor.

In their article, “Factors influencing visor use among players in the NHL,” co-authors Robert Micieli, a biomedical student at York University, and brother Jonathan, an ophthalmology resident at the University of Toronto, found that 88.4 percent of European-born NHLers wear visors, compared to 75.7 for American-born and 68.6 for Canadian-born players. Swedes (90.5) were tops, followed by Russians (89.5), Finns (86.7) and Czechs (84.6). Read more

Why the New York Rangers should thank the Vancouver Canucks

(Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty)

Imagine if Francesco Aquilini had chosen the other guy. He would have saved himself millions and avoided a huge public relations headache. Oh yeah, and the New York Rangers wouldn’t be anywhere near where they are today, three wins away from the Stanley Cup final.

Funny how a dumb move by one team can turn out so brilliantly for another.

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Why dinosaurs and dweebs love the Los Angeles Kings

(Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty)

The beauty of the Los Angeles Kings is that they bring together two opposing parts of the hockey world. These two factions have spent the better part of the past three years bantering back and forth, mostly via Twitter, about the merit and demerit of advanced statistics. Now they have a case study they can agree upon.

The dyed-in-the-wool geriatrics embrace the Kings for their throwback, defense-first, physical style of play backed by brilliant goaltending. They’re big, mean, nasty, iron-willed and brass-cojoned, and the old guard loves them for it.

The four-eyed number-needling geeks adore them, too, and rightfully so. After all, the Kings are the poster boys for the advanced stats revolution, particularly Anze Kopitar and Justin Williams who, along with Patrice Bergeron of the Boston Bruins, are the only players to be top 10 in Corsi close each of the past three seasons.

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What boxers can teach Milan Lucic

Ronnie Shuker
(Photo by Brian Babineau/NHL)

Boxing and hockey are No. 1 and 2, respectively, on my list of favorite sports. What I love most about both is the honor among competitors. They beat the heck out of each other for 12 rounds or a seven-game series and then shake hands or embrace afterward. Boxers and hockey players win with honor and lose with dignity.

Well, most of the time anyway.

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Who the playoffs are missing and why we don’t care

(Photo by Mike Carlson/Getty)

Notice any players missing in the playoffs? Don’t sweat it if you don’t, because no one else has either. They disappear around this time every year, and few fans seem to care because they’re too busy watching the real season when only the real players are left playing.

Heck, even the barbarian blowhards have hardly made a headline about the absence of the sledgehammered, stone-handed, slower-than-sludge fighters that (regrettably) make their appearance in the regular season, only to disappear (thankfully) in the playoffs.

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When Kerry Fraser went to war with Wayne Gretzky

Ronnie Shuker
(Photo by Focus On Sport)

In a recent interview for an article on even-up calls, former NHL referee Kerry Fraser reminisced about his legion of run-ins with players and coaches – from Jarome Iginla to Scotty Bowman to even Wayne Gretzky.

During our conversation, Fraser recalled a colorful encounter with The Great One, when Gretzky decided to try to dive his way to a much-needed Oilers power play.

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Why the Boston Bruins should stop playing with the ‘P’ word

Ronnie Shuker
(Photo by Francois Lacasse/NHL)

They’re the last-minute Larrys of the Stanley Cup playoffs year after year – the college kids with PhDs in procrastination yet so whip-smart that they can cram study before the final exam and pull out an ‘A.’

Problem is, though, they’re supposed to be the NHL’s professors, the grizzled veterans of the league – post-season shrewd and crunch-time wise from their vast playoff experience the past three years. In short, the Boston Bruins should know better than to play around with “procrastination.”

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