Peter Gammons drew the ire of some hockey fans by stating the Vancouver-Calgary incident reiterated that it's a minor sport. So what?
If you care about what others think of you, if it truly leeches into your pores and gets under your skin, we get why you’d be indignant about a baseball reporter’s take on the Vancouver-Calgary-Tortorella show the other night.
But really, it says as much about you as him.
Peter Gammons, a respected long-time analyst now with the Major League Baseball network, Tweeted the following in response to Saturday’s gong show: “Calgary and Vancouver last night reiterated why the NHL is a minor sport.”
The comment provoked a flurry of activity on social media platforms and sports radio stations. How dare a guy who has covered baseball all his life take pot shots at something he’s not an “expert” on. Besides, retorted some of the irate, what about MLB and its PED scandals, dugout-clearing brawls, headhunting pitchers, yada, yada, yada.
My only real objection to the Tweet is a dispassionate editing quibble. The NHL is not a sport, per se. It’s a league. Hockey is the sport.
Otherwise, I don’t care. It’s his opinion, he’s entitled to it, but it has no impact on what I feel about hockey.
It seems too often, when the game offers up wonderful moments or dark ones, we look externally for validation or condemnation. When ratings spike for a Winter Classic, we want to be patted on the head. When a player goes off the rails and pulls a Bertuzzi-Moore, we get defensive about external criticism. When someone of stature outside the hockey world opines about the NHL, it becomes news. And it reeks of an inferiority complex.
For hockey fans, what should matter is how we feel about the good, the bad and the ugly. For the most part, we know we have an amazing pastime. Of course, we don’t all love everything about it all the time, but we know the mixture of grace, speed, skill, passion and brutality provides consistent adrenaline rushes that keep us coming back.
As for the incident between the Flames and Canucks, it was unfortunate, distasteful and avoidable. On the flip side, eight players were ejected, John Tortorella will get his day in court and be disciplined accordingly and, hopefully, the league will install enough of a deterrent that copycat brawls aren’t repeated with any great frequency.
Similar incidents will happen again at some point down the road. And when they do, try not to get distracted by what a baseball, football or golf reporter has to say. Don’t worry about movie stars or mayors who chime in. If that’s where your focus lies, if you’re concerned about the perception of a casual observer, then you’re proving Peter Gammons’ point.