NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 24, 2011.

In this morning’s roundup of notable NHL headlines: More fallout from what’s being called “The Banana Scandal”…Jaromir Jagr has a strong preseason debut with the Flyers…So did Dany Heatley and Devin Setoguchi with the Wild…Peter Mueller returns to the ice…Jason Williams hopes to make the Penguins suffers a setback…The latest on the Devils ownership saga…Looking at the “mystery man” behind a recent failed bid for the St. Louis Blues.

FACEOFF.COM: cited “sports experts” called on the NHL to take a “zero tolerance” stand on racism in the wake of a fan tossing a banana peel at Philadelphia Flyers forward Wayne Simmonds during a recent exhibition game in London, Ontario, while calling on the league to make itself more inclusive to minorities for the game to survive. Former NHLer Georges Laraque wants London to be made an example, calling on the NHL to ban further exhibition games there until the suspect comes forward. Hockey Canada’s Glen McCurdie called incidents of racism in Canadian hockey “few and far between”, but acknowledged the issue still needs to be discussed, noting the face of hockey is changing in the country. Retired sports psychologist Paul Dennis pointed out skill, not race, remains the determining factor in hockey success.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Given the widespread outrage from around the NHL, at every level, to what happened to Simmonds, it’s clear the league as a whole takes a dim view of racism. I don’t doubt, as David Shoalts of The Globe & Mail recently observed, subtle racism still exists in the NHL, but I believe those folks are in a distinct minority, one that will only continue to shrink over time, and their views aren’t representative of the majority of those in the league at every level.

Calling on the league to ban further exhibition games in London until the jerk who tossed that banana peel is caught or comes forward is akin to burning down the house to get the flies out of the living room. It’s over-reaction, won’t resolve anything, and it is unfair to punish an entire city for the reaction of one idiot. The mayor of London quickly came forward to express his outrage over the incident, and I daresay he speaks for the overwhelming majority of Londoners.

While racism obviously existed to some degree in the sport since Willie O’Ree became the first black NHL player in 1958, the reason the sport still has a predominantly white face has more to do with the demographic background of  the countries where the sport is at its most popular, especially Canada, than to racism. In recent years it’s been very apparent the face of hockey is changing and growing more diverse, and the NHL has embraced that change with its diversity programs. Skill, not skin colour, still determines who makes the NHL, and we’re going to see more players of different ethnic backgrounds playing in the NHL in the coming years, thanks to both a combination of NHL players past and present – like Simmonds, O’Ree and Laraque – serving as examples to aspiring players of different ethnic backgrounds, and the changing demographic in hockey-mad countries like Canada.

As for dumping on the fans who didn’t either grab the banana-hurler or haven’t turned him in, I understand the outrage, but it also could’ve happened so quickly that those seated around the guilty party simply may not have had time to react, especially if that person legged it as soon as they tossed the banana. Remember, it happened during a shoot-out, meaning attention was riveted on the action on the ice, not on what their fellow fans were doing. That being said, if there is someone who knows who the guilty party is, they should come forward immediately and turn them in.

PHILLY.COM: reports Jaromir Jagr had a strong debut with the Philadelphia Flyers in his preseason debut, with a goal and an assist in a 3-1 victory over the Detroit Red Wings on Friday.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: A good start, no doubt, but it remains to be seen how well the 39-year-old Jagr will do over the course of an 82-game regular season.

STARTRIBUNE.COM: reports Dany Heatley and Devin Setoguchi also had a strong preseason debut, with Heatley getting three points and Setoguchi two in a 4-3 win over the Columbus Blue Jackets on Friday.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Mikko Koivu centered the pair, and if this game was any indication, the Wild could have something they haven’t had in a long time: a lethal first line.

DENVER POST: reports Avalanche forward Peter Mueller played his first significant game since suffering a concussion a year ago.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Good to see Mueller continues to make strides in his comeback, and hopefully he can stay concussion-free for the rest of his NHL career.

PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE: reports Jason Williams’ hopes of earning a regular roster spot with the Penguins may have suffered a setback due to a recent groin injury.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Williams is under a two-way contract, and this injury could result in his demotion to the minors.

NEW YORK POST: reports New Jersey Devils co-owner Ray Chambers has agreed to pay $25 million to divest himself of his 47 percent stake in the team, a move the Post suggested highlights the shaky financial situation of the Devils as well as the “caustic relationship” between Chambers and primary owner Jeff Vanderbeek.

THE GLOBE AND MAIL: David Shoalts recently examined the background of Max Chambers, whose $167 million offer to purchase the St. Louis Blues was rejected by the club’s current ownership.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: After reading Shoalts’ story, it certainly explains why Chambers’ offer was rejected.

10 Comments

  1. I don’t quite understand why no one has applied Occam’s Razor to the racism theory of “The Banana Incident”. Banana peels are a common cartoon prop for slapstick comedy, to make someone slip and fall down. The racist angle is contrived, and quite frankly, silly.

  2. Dan… if the guy came forward and was able to produce a bag of marbles from his other pocket I’d have to apologize for calling him a rascist but what funny guy in the world is so dumb to think that a banana thrown on the slipperiest sports surface in the world parodies a cartoon gag? Also, it was not a banana peel the man threw. It was a banana. The whole banana. Not just the peel. Maybe Occam’s Razor needs to be sharpened?

  3. So after rewind the Blues article it would appear that potential buyer is a combination of:1) Crazy, and 2) involved in illegal activities to generate money.
    Also, I thought it was a banana peel too? Either way you shouldn’t throw anything on the ice unless it’s at the clearly biased refs on certain nights. Playing it up as racial may have made this a bigger deal than it should have been. Now this Simmonds kid has to deal with this and trying to make the big club when the NHL could have asked sports networks to not add fuel to the flame of this and not give the thrower any added attention. I suppose the networks could do what they want but you would hope they could have empathized with what Simmonds was, or may have, been feeling.

  4. Oh an I meant “reading” not rewind. Damn iPhone always messing with my misspelled words lol.

  5. Occam’s razor often expressed in Latin as the lex parsimoniae, translating to law of parsimony, law of economy or law of succinctness, is a principle that generally recommends, when faced with competing hypotheses that are equal in other respects, selecting the one that makes the fewest new assumptions.

  6. you may want to visit ” broad street hockey” website if your’e not convinced this incident was not racism. Apparently the banana that hit the ice was the second banana thrown. The first one thrown didn’t reach the ice and was thrown when simmonds tied the game with a minute left

  7. Talking about the person who threw the banana, is glorifying it like it was intended, to be talked about.Enough of that. On Hockey night in Canada, the Leafs and Buffalo will be crossing swords and RDS will have the Sens and Habs from Montreal. Hooray, Saturday night hockey is back.

  8. It’s not silly to suggest it can be racism involved in the “banana incident” – it might not be true that i was, but it sure can be inturperated that way, and that’s bad enough.

    It’s not strange Hockey is a white-dominated sport as most wintersports are – for just so many reasons, most importent being geography. Better have ice and snow to practice on.

  9. Are we to believe this so-called fan was just discarding an unwanted fruit? As stated in the armchair post, bananas aren’t historically a racist symbol, but those of us with a more complex thought pattern realize the symbology of a banana thrown in the direction of the lone skater on the ice, who happens to be black. I understand Simmonds desire to move on from this, surely he would rather be recognized for his considerable skills. Those who wish to paint this as a media snipe hunt or oversensitivity however clearly have no perspective on the horrendous and continued race-baiting still going on today.

  10. Didn’t this banana thing also happen to P.K. Subban? I think he actually got over it, though (or maybe not if he can milk it for sympathy). I know it’s shocking that somebody out there may have an opinion different from the one that’s forced on them by law, but that’s life so grow the hell up. It’s not like the guy threw a watermelon…

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  1. Flying bananas, implied racism, and Wayne Simmonds | Armchair Hockey - [...] 09/24/11 9:06 ET – Lyle Richardson has his own take, and it’s worth reading. Subtle or subconscious racism is …