NHL Players Are Different


Pretty slow day here in the Loge, so I’ll pretty much wrap things up with this story, I’ll finish the day with the Bruins/Blackhawks preview. So this is a follow up to the story I posted yesterday regarding the Blackhawks going out of their way to show support for their GM, Dale Tallon. Also, Monday, I will start a 4 part series on fighting in the NHL, 3/4 of it is taken from Adam Burish’s perspective and opinion.

Adam Burish explains why NHL players are different than any other athlete, and I don’t think anyone could have summed up his thinking any better. From Adam Burish’s blog in the Chicago Sun Times:

I’ve been asked by a lot of people about the story that has gotten a lot of press lately of our organization taking a day to attend the wake of our general manager Dale Tallon’s father.

During the first intermission of the Winter Classic, NBC ran a feature on it, so I’ve started getting more questions again! I will take time to give you my thoughts and comments on it. I am writing this not to grandstand about what we did, because that is not why we attended. Nobody talked about it until a media member caught wind of it a month later.

Yes, we delayed our flight out of Toronto on a day off and came home a day later. And yes every member on our team attended, along with a good amount of folks from our front office who flew in from Chicago. But we did not do this for recognition. When somebody shows you the respect and care that Dale Tallon and his family shows our team on a daily basis, it is a no-brainer to show that same care and respect in return. I’m sure all of you would do the same for somebody and their family who you care about.

So why am I choosing to write about this? I recently read something from a writer along the lines of: “This is a great story because you very rarely hear about the good that athletes do. It is often over shadowed by the trouble athletes find themselves in.”

I don’t agree. When Dale Tallon was asked about our attendance at his father’s wake he said, “hockey players are different than other athletes, they are generally hard working, honest people from small towns that care about people.” I agree with that.

As hockey players we are obviously grouped into the category of “ATHLETES.” With that comes a stigma. Some of that stigma includes being “greedy,” “trouble,” and “selfish.” But as Dale said, “hockey players are different.”

You will not see a hockey player call his own press conference in his front yard with his shirt off, doing sit-ups, and saying how great he is. You will not see a hockey player tell the media how stupid practice is, and how stupid his coach is for not starting him. And you will not see a hockey player bring a gun into a club and accidentally shoot himself.

I know some people will say, ‘well what about Sean Avery.’ Sean Avery recently said he doesn’t understand why other players in the league seem to take his “sloppy seconds,” in reference to another hockey player who is dating his ex-girlfriend. Stupid, I know, but is that the worst thing you’ve heard an athlete say? I don’t think so. In no other sport will you see a team hand out the type of punishment Sean Avery received for it.

He will not play another game for the Dallas Stars this year, a decision made by his teammates and organization. Hockey players are different. What would happen in other sports if a player ran his mouth like this about his teammates or other players? He would probably put his pads on the next game and play catch with the guy he just ripped.

I know you can argue that hockey doesn’t receive the same coverage other sports do. On one hand, hockey players don’t create the same “drama” other sports do to get that coverage. Hockey players would rather have no coverage than this type of coverage. If there were a Sean Avery on every team would hockey get more coverage? I’ll guarantee it! His story was the first thing reported on ESPN when it happened. Everybody wants to see and read about athletes screwing up. In hockey that behavior is not accepted. Hockey players are proud of the reputation we have created of being good people. Sometimes that means less coverage. Hockey players are fine with that. If you were to go down by the locker rooms after a hockey game, you will not see players walking out with wild jewelry, crazy clothes, or hats. Just your normal, black-and-gray suits, and players stopping to make sure a kid receives his autograph.

There is a code amongst hockey player that you hear in all sports, but it’s at a higher standard here. When you are on a team, you are a part of a “family”, and you do not do anything to put yourself above your family. You don’t blast your teammates to the media, you don’t dress for attention, and you don’t get yourself in the media for reasons outside of your job, and if you do it is dealt with.

This does not come from the management, they don’t tell you what to say or what to wear, players just know, and have that respect for one another and their organization. Now trust me when I say I’m not writing this to rip other sports. I probably watch more of the other sports in my free time than I do hockey, and I don’t write this to say hockey players are angels, just ask my mother, she will tell you we aren’t! But hockey players are different, and we are proud of the reputation that we have tried to uphold, as Dale called,” honest and caring.”

Would other sports organizations attend the wake of one of their family members? I’d like to think so. Our organization did not attend Stan Tallon’s wake for recognition, we did it for the same reason you would, because we cared for our friend. We didn’t change the world by attending Stan Tallon’s wake, but we sure didn’t hurt it either.

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