Another black eye for hockey

It's not surprising that hockey could pick up a few rakes even before the season begins. It's amazing how surprising this is. It would have been a disaster for the sport to address Robin Lehner's allegations of painkiller distribution in a manner similar to that seen in the NFL among its players, trainers, or teams. As Lehner is a self-deprecating bullhorn for many years, you are free to question the messenger. It is not surprising that hockey players have been pushed for painkillers and then become addicted, given the sport's nature. This is how things usually go. This is enough to make it a disaster.


Lehners' Twitter thread was posted just hours after racism in junior leagues in Canada. This is... it's hockey. Yesterday, the Prince Albert Raiders of Western Hockey League revealed their third jerseys for this season. To say that they were a problem is to make them look bad.

They were a throwback from a logo and jersey the Raiders used back in the early 1990s. We didn't know better then, so it wasn't too far off the past. It was not something we did. And it is even less likely that the team at the trading post of Prince Albert would feel the pressure to do anything.

These logos are being brought back to make it seem like there wasn't an issue is asinine. The logo could as easily be accompanied by the Bugs Bunny sound HASSAN CHOP! It's not surprising that these jerseys and logo were pulled from use by the league only eight hours after their unveiling. It is just disappointing that this issue was brought up.

It's a contrast from another WHL team, The Portland Winter Hawks. They dropped their Blackhawks-copy logo and switched to an actual Hawk this season, getting away the racist cartoon that the NHL club cannot bear to ignore. Although it was a significant step forward in hockey, it was also one that the Raiders took away from the board.

This is yet another indicator of how far hockey must go. Because the stakes are lower at the developmental level, where the risks are less high, and where running from racist and insulting logos doesn't carry the marketing or merchandise risk, even those should not be considered. It's no surprise that fans and players who were raised in these areas with such logos can't see racism at the higher levels of the sport.

This is yet another example of how it can be confusing to imagine the number of people and levels that had to approve the Raiders throwback shirt in order for it to be officially announced. No one said, "This isn't the best idea?" It takes more than one person to give the go-ahead, and whatever number it takes, the Raiders went 0-fer.