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Peng to the Point

Brad Marchand Was Wrong

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Credit: NBCSN

Every Sunday at Peng to the Point, we talk about the world away from the San Jose Sharks.

Brad Marchand was wrong.

Let’s rewind — last Tuesday, the Boston Bruins Twitter issued this statement from Bruins players:

Shortly thereafter, Tuukka Rask appeared on NBCSN, wearing a Boston Police cap.

This juxtaposition caught Boston Globe reporter Matt Porter’s attention:

Brad Marchand responded in a swiftly deleted tweet:

The next day, however, Marchand didn’t back down in his media availability:

“The reason I deleted my tweet was not because I regretted tweeting it. It was because I didn’t want to bring any attention to [Porter].

“Tuuks was given a hat by a friend that he wore in an interview prior to the statement being released. That’s OK for him to support a friend and wear a hat.

“It doesn’t change the fact that we all stand united against trying to end racism and being part of that solution. And Tuuks is part of that. He’s onboard, as are all of us.

“What Matt did was he tried to create a buzz that would affect himself positively, and get more followers, get more attention, get more likes when it’s hurting what we’re trying to move forward with.”

My thoughts: I get Marchand standing up for his teammate.

I get that Rask, according to Marchard, was supporting a friend. Rask, I imagine, has had more positive experiences with the police than many others.

What I don’t get is Marchand singling out a reporter who was doing his job and pointing out the stark incongruity of the players’ statement and Rask’s statement.

It’s ill-timed, at best, to wear a Boston Police hat on the same day that Bruins players issued a statement claiming “we have been trying to educate ourselves and learn about racial injustice in our country and around the world.” If you’ve spent one honest minute trying to educate yourself about racial injustice, that should be fairly obvious.

And make no mistake, Rask, even if he says he wasn’t, was making a statement.

Even if Rask wore the cap before the Bruins’ tweet — in this current climate, wearing police paraphernalia during a televised interview is a statement.

Even if the statement was ultimately that Rask, contradicting his own teammates’ claims, hadn’t actually bothered to educate himself about racial injustice. That wouldn’t be surprising, right? That the Bruins players’ statement, attributed to them, wasn’t actually conceived by them, but instead, was corporate virtue signaling.

Ignorance, after all, is a statement too. Letting other people talk for you is a statement too.

Back to Marchand: For what it’s worth, I believe it’s possible, as he stated, to “stand united against trying to end racism” while wearing a Boston Police cap. We can certainly recognize that there are individual police officers who are good people. If that were Rask’s statement, we can have a civil conversation around that statement. If Rask wished to own another statement, we can have a civil conversation around that too.

But let’s have that conversation, instead of laying into a reporter who simply pointed out the obvious.

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Erik Johnsgard

Really well said, dude. Preach.

Erik Johnsgard

Hell yeah, Sheng, I’m always excited to see your work. Doing better than most during the Mad Max times, I’m sure. Really glad you decided to stay in the game now that I’m a dumb fan instead of a dumb writer!

nitetothemare

Thank you saying this so eloquently. I was beside myself when this was all going down.

Douglas Nuttman

Absolute absurdity. All you’re doing now is continuing to perpetuate the narrative in order to get likes and make a name for yourself. This is what we call journalism now???

david barnard

Sheng, this reporter was doing what all of the media are doing right now, he was going after a player who dared to wear a hat supporting the “enemy”. just like the reporters who went after Jonathan Isaac-ironically, a black player- for not kneeling and for not wearing #BLM merch.

david barnard

not nearly as wide as the brush the cops are being painted with. and it’s not like they haven’t earned it. the majority of the media is passed its “tipping point”.

Brice Robertson

Sheng, I’m a little confused. Do you associate support for Police officers, say here in the Bay Area (or in the case of Tuukka, in Boston) with not supporting Black Lives Matter or somehow being against racial injustice?

Douglas Nuttman

Own what exactly? Looks like Rask owned it during an interview. He wore a hat supporting a Law Enforcement agency for the city in which he plays. What are you implying in this article? Sorry editorial. Thanks for educating me. What are you doing other than writing some something to cause more of a stir and make people more divided by inserting your opinion on a platform that is going to get distributed and get a ton more views than the average person.

david barnard

i thought it was a weak explanation/response as well. i don’t believe he just threw on a hat that someone offered him. i wish he would’ve stood up for what he obviously believes. we could use some push back on the hate train.

david barnard

i know you’re a thoughtful guy who wants to have “conversations” about difficult subject matter; however, that is not true for the vast majority of the media. “cancel culture” is rampant and there are too many dishonest actors steering the ship.

Douglas Nuttman

@Brice I agree. Admittedly, I haven’t seen the interview but I don’t believe it requires any justification. Being former military in the US Navy I shouldn’t have to justify wearing my SJ Sharks hat, shirt, gear etc. I also shouldn’t have to justify wearing a hat supporting our armed forces or our country for which I served but here I am doing it.

david barnard

honestly wish they’d just fix the problems in their own damn sport before even thinking about jumping on the anti-LE, misguided, hate train.

david barnard

well, i’ve taken part on several community level issues and concerns that benefited from a focused effort at problem solving, rather than some broader strokes approach. efforts and results tend get diluted the more you try to solve every social ill with 1 “fix”.

david barnard

getting your message and efforts to fix what’s wrong with hockey, culturally speaking, mixed up with a sham political organization like BLM (the org) is a big mistake, imo. i’m not going to go further into a very deep political/social discussion here, so that’s the gist of my original comment.

Peng to the Point

Sharks Fan Spreading Hockey Gospel to Texas Border Town

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Every Sunday at Peng to the Point, we talk about the world away from the San Jose Sharks.

A San Jose kid is trying to bring hockey to a Texas border town.

Nathaniel Mata was five when he started playing hockey in an unlikely place: At a mall ice rink in San Jose.

“I fell in love with it right away,” Mata recalled. “It was like a learn to skate type of class. Learn to play hockey type of class.”

It was 2000, so naturally, the San Jose Sharks’ Patrick Marleau became his favorite player: “After that, we started watching Sharks games. We went to a couple of games before we moved over here to Texas. Ever since then, I’ve loved the Sharks.”

Eastridge Ice Arena, formerly of Eastridge Mall in San Jose, is long closed. But now, Mata is spreading the gospel of the sport in a more unlikely place: McAllen, 85 percent Hispanic, near the southern tip of Texas. There are, on average, about 152 days a year when the high temperature in McAllen is over 90 degrees. That makes it one of the hottest places for ice hockey in Texas.

“It’s a different story here in Texas,” Mata said. “Hockey is not as as prevalent as in the Bay Area. And I know the Bay Area is nothing compared to Canada.”

Last year, the 25-year-old founded RGV Roller, a non-profit organization that promotes hockey through encouraging kids and adults to participate in inline and roller skating, along with floor and roller hockey.

After all, it was roller hockey that helped keep Mata in the game when his family moved to Texas in 2002.

“I found roller hockey was really cool because it was a little bit more affordable to get the gear,” he recounted. “You didn’t have to rent ice time.”

Before the coronavirus pandemic engulfed the United States, RGV Roller had held two successful community events at a local roller hockey rink. In January, RGV Hockey Fest 2020 introduced hundreds of participants to the sport. In February, Fall in Love with Hockey & Skating continued the theme with a Valentine’s Day twist.

“Before the pandemic, things were running along really smoothly,” Mata offered. “We were gonna have a whole summer of hockey camps and learn to skate camps.”

It’s been eight months and counting without any RGV Roller events. But Mata is already brainstorming post-pandemic plans. Giving away hockey equipment is a cornerstone of Mata’s plans to make sure hockey is for everybody.

“We could still definitely use [used] gear and equipment,” he shared. “We could definitely use as much financial support as we can. Be able to buy goalie pads for kids. We want to buy sticks and pads.”

Mata is also seeking guidance: “[People] could reach out to me if they have any sort of advice of how to run adult hockey leagues or in-line hockey leagues. For a lot of us, it’s really new to us.”

He’s also hoping that more roller hockey rinks will eventually be built in McAllen and surrounding Rio Grande Valley, population one million-plus: “There’s just one place to play hockey in a huge area.”

There’s also an ice skating rink in McAllen that’s currently closed.

Whatever the future holds, Mata is just glad that he’s in the position to pay it forward.

“When I was a kid, I would have loved to have these type of programs down here in Texas. They didn’t really exist unless you were on the ice,” he noted. “So I just really want to give people the opportunity to start with roller hockey. And then, if they really do enjoy it, they could find their way to the NHL, ice hockey.”

Mata continued: “Hockey is trying to figure out, how do we grow the game? You just have to give people the opportunity, a rink, a place where they could learn the game.”

That’s what Eastridge Ice Arena gave Mata: The chance to fall in love.

“I would love if Sharks fans realize that one of their own sons is down here in Texas, spreading the good word,” he said. “I’m always wearing the teal.”

You can reach Nathaniel Mata at Nate@rgvroller.org. Learn more about RGV Roller here and follow them on FacebookTwitter. You can also donate to RGV Roller at Donorbox.

Welcome to your new home for San Jose Sharks breaking news, analysis and opinion. Like us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter and don't forget to subscribe to SJHN+ for all of our members-only content from Sheng Peng and the National Hockey Now network.
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Peng to the Point

Remembering Hamby Shore

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Every Sunday at Peng to the Point, we talk about the world away from the San Jose Sharks.

Hamby Shore was the first NHL player to die in a pandemic.

This week, 102 years ago, three-time Stanley Cup winner Hamby Shore succumbed to the influenza epidemic of 1918. The Ottawa Senators fan favorite was just 32.

The Province, October 14, 1918.

Seven months later, the Montreal Canadiens’ Joe Hall caught influenza during the 1919 Stanley Cup Final, dying just four days after the cancellation of the series.

Shore and Hall were just two of the about 50 million who died because of this pandemic.

There’s two reasons why I’m bringing this up: First, to commemorate Shore’s October 13, 1918 death. Second, as a reminder as professional and college sports in North America hurry back to action.

And sure, the COVID-19 pandemic is not the influenza epidemic of 1918. Though looking at raw mortality numbers — over 1.1 million dead worldwide because of the coronavirus, per John Hopkins, may not paint the full picture of its deadliness compared to 1918.

But anyway, sports are going to push forward — in its halting, start-and-stop manner — as it did 102 years ago.

Our sport of choice is a prime example of this.

The 1919 Stanley Cup Final was canceled after five games, but otherwise, the league completed its 1918-19 and 1919-20 seasons.

This year, the NHL regular season was shortened, but six months later, the 2020 Stanley Cup Final was completed in a bubble.

Commissioner Gary Bettman hopes to begin the 2020-21 campaign in January, three months after the customary October opening night.

So sports isn’t going away — but neither is the coronavirus.

The 102nd anniversary of Shore’s death is a stark reminder: Athletes, as young and healthy as they are, can very much be vulnerable to COVID-19.

A recent — admittedly small-scale — study suggested that individuals who have experienced COVID-19 are more susceptible to myocarditis, a potentially fatal inflammation of the heart muscle. Essentially, heart damage may be a price to play for some athletes.

Auston Matthews and Connor McDavid are among the NHL superstars who are known to have tested positive for COVID-19.

There’s of course a lot we’re still learning about the novel coronavirus. The myocarditis study is hardly conclusive.

But remember Hamby Shore: One successful playoff bubble doesn’t mean the NHL is immune to the still-raging pandemic.

Welcome to your new home for San Jose Sharks breaking news, analysis and opinion. Like us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter and don't forget to subscribe to SJHN+ for all of our members-only content from Sheng Peng and the National Hockey Now network.
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