The Stupidest Bit of Conventional Wisdom Still in Hockey

Jonathan Willis
May 07 2012 09:34AM

Despite the fact that we’re no longer living in the 1950’s, there are still commentators out there devoted to certain maxims of that bygone area. It leads to stupidity in the various mediums where hockey is covered.

Naturally, I’m referring to the outdated notion that nationality has some relationship to character or ability. It doesn’t.

Don Cherry’s the easy target here, but he’s also the wrong target. Despite his impressive pulpit, Cherry’s days of being a major influencer of opinion are all but numbered; he’s a dinosaur, with his coherence fading and his take on the game grounded at least three decades in the past. He’s simply not a credible analyst when compared to the various recently-fired coaches and ex-players that provide expertise at TSN and CBC and Sportsnet.

The real problem are the hockey commentators that are less obviously relics of a bygone era.

Who are they? They’re the commentators that can be heard muttering about Swedes and Danes after a Canucks playoff loss. They’re the people looking at the Radulov/Kostitsyn incident and wondering aloud if the Oilers really want to take a Russian with that first overall pick. They’re the ones who pointedly noted Milan Lucic’s birthplace last year but failed to make mention of it after a goalless first round this year. They’re the ones who talk about “good” Russians and “bad” Russians, but have no similar comments for Canadians.

Because make no mistake – when it comes to lazy, underperforming, underwhelming, or just plain odious hockey players, Canada has contributed its share. Sean Avery, the poster-boy for locker-room disruption in the modern NHL, is a proud native of North York, Ontario. Dany Heatley, the two-time 100-point scorer who barely cracked 50 this year, is a good Western Canadian boy. Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau, routinely vilified after every Sharks’ playoff exit, represent Ontario and Saskatchewan, respectively. Imagine if Richards and Carter were Mikhail and Ivan rather than Mike and Jeff during the whole ‘dry island’ furor – what sort of commentary would we have heard on Russian players? What sort did we hear on those crazy, partying, Canadians?

Few things beyond the puck and the ice are really black and white in hockey. Reasonable people can disagree on a multitude of points. This, however, is one of those areas where there is a clear, black-and-white answer.

We can note the different job market for young European players, who as a rule are far more willing to accept jobs in Europe than North Americans. It’s a fair point. Of course, when a player comes to North America prior to being drafted and makes it clear in every interview that his only goal is the NHL, it’s less of a fair point, but I digress.

The bottom line is this: the world’s best hockey players have celebrity, fantastic sums of money, and a schedule that includes lots of time in lively cities far from home thrust upon them at a young age. Many, understandably, choose to indulge in the vices afforded by such a life. Some, equally understandably, miss practice or stay out too late or refuse to accept certain restrictions that come with being a real professional.

Canadian, Russian, Finnish, Swedish, American, whatever. Every hockey player-producing nation also produces hockey players that live it up a bit too much, don’t try hard enough, or have other failings.

With Canadian players, it isn’t taken as a commentary on our society as a whole. The actions of Sean Avery don’t reflect negatively on Ryan Smyth. Jeff Carter’s miserable year in Columbus doesn’t make teams think twice about drafting Ryan Murray.

Normally I wouldn't retake this same ground less than two months after making similar points.  But the general tone of playoff coverage has sent me back here, because the same sort of asinine comments keep getting made.

When a commentator takes some misstep by a Russian player and uses it to make a larger point about Russians in general, or keys in on a Swede and comments darkly that he just made an un-Canadian play he’s not telling us anything about Russians or Swedes or even hockey.

The only thing he’s making clear is that he’s willing to make idiotic generalizations.

74b7cedc5d8bfbe88cf071309e98d2c3
Jonathan Willis is a freelance writer. He currently works for Oilers Nation, the Edmonton Journal and Bleacher Report. He's co-written three books and worked for myriad websites, including Grantland, ESPN, The Score, and Hockey Prospectus. He was previously the founder and managing editor of Copper & Blue.
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#1 TwoSkidoos
May 07 2012, 09:41AM
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Agreed. Don Cherry has to go, he's a relic and offers very little by way of constructive insight into the game of hockey. Plus he's a dink to Ron MacLean.

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#2 Rick
May 07 2012, 09:51AM
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Birthplace when judging character is silly.

However, due to the KHL I think birthplace when assessing risk is legitimate.

The Russians are in an unique situation in that they can make as much money back home as they can in NA.

It can be a difference maker and even the threat of going to the KHL when it comes to negotiating the 2nd contract or worse free agency is problematic when dealing trying to manage the cap.

And in Edmonton's situation atleast 3 other elite talents that you have to keep happy.

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#3 Zamboni Driver
May 07 2012, 09:53AM
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Best Willis article ever.

Not close.

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#4 Smokey
May 07 2012, 09:54AM
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The Don rules. My wife watches little to no hockey, but she has to watch the Don on Saturday nights with me to see his suit. Its like hockey roadkill. She also is proud to be a fellow fabricland card carrying member with the great Don.

Watching the Don for hockey analysis is like watching Oprah for spiritual advice. Its going to be a wee bit out there at times. The Don at least always has an opinion. The Don`s opinions come from his gut, hes not a some well connected media hack like Darren Dreger who can hardly form his own opinion on anything.

Love him or hate him, hes still the most popular, and unreplacable person on HNIC. Long live the Don.

And lets just draft the Yak.

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#5 stevezie
May 07 2012, 09:56AM
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I think Cherry has reined it in quite a bit over the last decade. Relevence aside, he's not longer the leader of this movement. His Ontario arguments had more to do with fans than who racism, I thought.

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#6 gongshow
May 07 2012, 10:01AM
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Datsyuk or Malkin can play on my team any time. Igor Ulanov was a warrior.

My concern with picking a Russian is simply that with the advent of the KHL they now have a well paying option closer to home in a less physical league (unless you're talking about Radilov's coach). Yakupov and Grigorenko have made it clear that their intentions are to play in the NHL.

On a side note, looking at religious background rather than nationality, if Nail is an observant Muslim and avoids alcohol he's a good bet to not pull an all nighter during the playoffs.

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#7 jake
May 07 2012, 10:04AM
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Very good article JW. I think some (a lot?)of it is underpinned by insecurities. KHL can pay. Many other countries are producing many of the best players, be it in goal, forward or D. Gotta tear'em down.

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#8 BlacqueJacque
May 07 2012, 10:04AM
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Bravo, Willis. I know watcha talkin' about.

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#9 Badger
May 07 2012, 10:15AM
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Good points! I watched an old Coach's Corner last week from 1991.....Pittsburgh/Minnesota Game 1. Look it up.....basically nothing has changed. Cherry was griping about Lemieux diving and wussy Americans. Now it's Crosby diving and wussy Euros. It was EXACTLY the same as watching it this year, 21 years later.

Columbus is agood example. You always hear "they'd never take a Russian after Filatov and Zherdev screwed them over". Never hear "they'd never take a Canadian after Brule and Picard screwed them over"

People are people. Interview/scout them better before you draft them. Then blame yourself when they flop, and not their nationality. For every Zherdev and Filatov, you have a Hickey or a Barker. You can't hate them because they'd rather play at home then play in the minors. Lots of Russians excel in this league. The Cold War is over, move on.

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#10 Mark
May 07 2012, 10:22AM
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Look, it's not like anyone believes where you are physically born dictates your attitude or character (well, maybe Cherry, but he's an idiot). Every case is different, and there will be asshats out of every bunch of people.

But that doesn't mean that there isn't a massive difference in culture, particularly in the local junior leagues, that results in more entitlement or less discipline than other areas of the Hockey World, particularly with their top young talent. I think there is and I think it shows, when every year Russia has a half dozen kids worth really discussing for the draft, and one or two of them are already carrying that "bad attitude" baggage.

That said, that's hardly a rule. It doesn't mean a damn thing for Yakupov (or Grigorenko or anyone else for that matter), it's just something I think you have to be aware of when you look into a player, his attitude and personality.

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#11 The Soup Fascist
May 07 2012, 10:25AM
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Are Cherry's viewpoints out of touch? Likely. But call it what it is - entertainment. And if you are not entertained, don't watch. But the last thing we need is another "expert" breaking down the D-zone coverage or some insipid interview with the same questions and canned answers during the 1st period of the CBC games in Don and Ron's spot. ZZZZZ.

Frankly, I turn the channel during intermissions, with the exception of occasionally "the Panel" on TSN and Cherry the odd time. I get that people don't agree with him or find him a little stale, but until you find something markedly better, leave the Don where he is.

~Perhaps a segment called "Stats Showdown" where the Corsi rating of various NHLers are dissected and debated. "Quick Martha come downstairs! Gabe Desjardins and Jon Willis are debating the validity of individual 5V5 shooting % stats. This could get ugly! ~

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#12 T__Bone88
May 07 2012, 10:27AM
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It's the same people that will look at Alex Semin as a non playoff performer and is on his way out of the NHL because he is russian. Yet when you look at the so called playoff warriors and players that every team should have in Callahan & Doan, they only have 1 point more than Semin. Country should not play a factor in how well he will play, it's the personality and willingness to play in the NHL that should be determined. The situation of Richards and Carter, people will look back and laugh and say "boys will be boys", or the Byfulien situation on the boat no one would second guess having them on the team. They will say that they are good ole Canadian or American boys just having fun.

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#13 Smokey
May 07 2012, 10:29AM
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Badger,

I don`t think Hickey should be seen as a huge bust. The Kings went way off the reservation on that pick, he should of never gone in the first 15-20 from what I recall. I remember the announcers crapping their pants on how bad of a pick Lambo made that day. Luckily Lambo was bang on with other picks.

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#14 @Oilanderp
May 07 2012, 10:31AM
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The only thing he’s making clear is that he’s willing to make idiotic generalizations.

Mr. Willis, of course you are entitled to your opinions, but you had better supply me with specific examples and links before I will follow you down the road of believing that Don Cherry is just no good anymore.

But as you write,

Don Cherry’s the easy target here, but he’s also the wrong target ... The real problem are the hockey commentators that are less obviously relics of a bygone era.

I would prefer an examination of the numbers before you claim the attention paid to Russians that bail or screw up is "idiotic".

Specifically, is the percentage of NHL Russians that 'screwed their teams' (for lack of a better term) lower, the same as, or higher than the percentage of NHL Canadians that 'screwed their team'?

A hefty task indeed, but a necessary one before you can convince me that the perceived 'Russian fear' is completely foundationless. Is it xenophobia, or is it justified? The numbers, not your opinion, hold the answer.

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#17 @Oilanderp
May 07 2012, 10:38AM
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@Jonathan Willis

Are you pretending that a Canadian feels the same urge to bolt for the KHL as a Russian does?

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#18 stevezie
May 07 2012, 10:40AM
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I'm still a huge Cherry fan. There's no law saying you have to agree with everything a guy says to like him.

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#20 RexLibris
May 07 2012, 10:41AM
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I'm not worried about drafting a Russian-born player in this year's draft either for reasons of character or the KHL.

The KHL can offer vast sums of money to any NHL player. Nugent-Hopkins could decide that he is impatient for his ELC to finish and go sign overseas for a king's ransom.

Jonathan Huberdeau was a 1st round KHL draft pick but no one wonders if he'll bolt on the Panthers to play overseas.

I agree that playing in one's home country is tempting for many players, but the money can often be a determining factor and it doesn't care what language you speak.

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#21 Jesse
May 07 2012, 10:45AM
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Jonathan Willis was professional in not naming names. I, however, have no professional reputation in journalism to uphold:

"Who are they? They’re the commentators that can be heard muttering about Swedes and Danes after a Canucks playoff loss." - Mark Spector

"They’re the people looking at the Radulov/Kostitsyn incident and wondering aloud if the Oilers really want to take a Russian with that first overall pick." - Terry Jones

"They’re the ones who pointedly noted Milan Lucic’s birthplace last year but failed to make mention of it after a goalless first round this year." - everyone on CBC?

That last one is a guess, but I felt the need to attach a little accountability to these comments. After all, blog comments have a lot of influence lol.

Thank you for writing this Jonathan. Great article.

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#22 RexLibris
May 07 2012, 10:45AM
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@Jonathan Willis

Re: Cherry

I do give him some credit for the fact that he was, to my knowledge, one of the first public media personalities to come on air and argue against the elbow and shoulder pads worn by modern players (this was probably six or more years ago) by saying that when you put players in this gear their mentality changes and they no longer feel the full force of initiating contact.

In other words, he said that guys wear this armour and then they feel invincible and no wonder they start head-hunting.

Pretty progressive for a guy who makes a living from Rock Em, Sock Em.

His nationalist banter though (I'm thinking his tirade about Piestany in '87 specifically) makes me pretty sick though. If that's the way he wants his team (the Leafs) to be built then fine by me.

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#23 Vaclav
May 07 2012, 10:46AM
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@ Willis

Bang on with this one Willis. As an Oiler fan one needs to look no further than Mark Spector's last piece of nonsense entitled "Bad Image for Russians" on Sportsnet's website.

He closed with:

"And now Radulov, who was billed as the Second Coming in his second coming, has taken to the vodka.

It’s an old cliché, yes, and it might go away.

If it didn’t keep happening."

I realize that the more hits a website gets the greater the opportunities for advertising $$$$. But at some point this sort of garbage journalism needs to disappear. Writing something that's provocative doesn't make it acceptable.

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#24 Badger
May 07 2012, 10:47AM
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Smokey,

True. What you wrote is exactly why Hickey didn't live up to his #4 potential. My point is that if Hickey was a Russian, some people would have blamed his performance to date on his nationality, without bothering to look into who he was.

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#25 The Soup Fascist
May 07 2012, 10:47AM
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While generalizing or stereotyping is always dangerous and, I will add , ill-advised, there are some interesting facts.

Litres of Annual alcohol consumption (per person) by country (from the World Health Organization):

Czech Rep. - 16.45 Russia - 15.76 Finland - 12.52 Canada - 9.77 USA - 9.44

So while certainly making a decision on an individual athlete solely by his country of origin is asinine, there appears to be a cultural disposition in some European countries to consume more alcohol. Are there Czechs who don't drink at all - certainly. Russians who are committed to health and training - absolutely.

If there was a WHO report that said Canadians were almost twice as likely to suffer from debilitating headaches as Russians, you might be advised to see how many Tylenols the kid from Moose Jaw or Moncton or Salmon Arm, you are wanting to draft 1st overall, is popping.

Edit: Before the inevitable cries of bigotry appear: my mother was born in Czechoslovakia and my paternal grandfather was born in Russia.

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#26 RexLibris
May 07 2012, 10:47AM
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@Jesse

To be fair about Mark Spector though, he loves the Latvians!

I think he tries to drop Irbe's name at least once on each of his radio appearances.

I wonder if he has a signed Pelss jersey yet?

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#27 RexLibris
May 07 2012, 10:51AM
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@The Soup Fascist

A lot of that is cultural and some of it has to do with the availability of clean drinking water in underdeveloped areas of the country.

Think about the show Mad Men and the 60s. How much alcohol consumption was considered "social" as a sort of cultural background noise back then?

North America has moved a long ways away from that, but it is still a cultural cornerstone of much of the social fabric in many eastern European countries.

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#28 Bob Cob
May 07 2012, 10:52AM
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The only reason this is an issue is because of the creation of the KHL. I see these comments as a way for commentators and hockey fans to justify in their minds that the NHL is better than the KHL, players are more responsible and wouldn't conduct themselves in such a way. We didn't hear these stories when Bure or Kovalev were drafted and played, or even when Malkin or Ovechkin were being scouted and drafted. But now that some players choose the KHL over the NHL these issues comes to the forefront and it's not a reason to draft one kid over the other. Both Yakupov or Murray will help the Oilers and I'm sure Stu(M.B.)MacGregor's scouting team will do their homework leading up to draft day.

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#29 Clyde Frog
May 07 2012, 10:55AM
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@Rick /sigh Cannot every single damn player just sign an KHL contract and play there? Did not Omark do that very same thing?

Sure you can say it is easier for Russians as they grew up there, but that by no means proves motive nor does it give them a monopoly.

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#30 Al
May 07 2012, 10:58AM
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good article and i agree completely. This is just the ugly jingoism, bordering on racism.

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#31 TigerUnderGlass
May 07 2012, 11:00AM
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@Oilanderp wrote:

Are you pretending that a Canadian feels the same urge to bolt for the KHL as a Russian does?

I think it's fair to take into account the possibility a Russian may choose to play at home, but to claim personality or dedication to winning concerns are inherent in a Russian player is just wrong.

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#32 @Oilanderp
May 07 2012, 11:09AM
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TigerUnderGlass wrote:

I think it's fair to take into account the possibility a Russian may choose to play at home, but to claim personality or dedication to winning concerns are inherent in a Russian player is just wrong.

Obviously. If Willis is writing this article to argue that xenophobia is wrong, then hooray, fine, correct, we all agree let's move on to the next article which will be about the chosen tautology of the day.

I took the article as being a little deeper, however. Deserved or not, there is a perceived fear of drafting Russians in some circles. Willis seems to argue simply that this is due to idiocy. I just want to see the numbers. Can we not agree that if there is a higher percentage of Russians who 'screw their teams' (I really have to get a better term here), then this fear is at least partly justified, i.e. should be a question to be answered when interviewing a potential Russian draft pick?

Let me be clear, I am not saying that there is or isn't a higher percentage. I am merely saying that wouldn't it be useful to actually go and check the real data?

EDIT: P.S. Any patterns in Russian draftees as a whole should not be constrewed as a reason not to draft them or even look at them. It should, in the interest of due diligence, be a question on the scout's or GM's list to ask that particular Russian.

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#33 VK63
May 07 2012, 11:11AM
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Well JW, what other major sport throws out the brain trust that is, Doug Maclean, Mike Milbury, Craig Button, etc. in a forum that would portray them as "experts".

It lacks credibility overall, thus the existence of puzzling opinion being broadcast as loose fact should really be viewed with a solid measure of cynicism from the outset. IMO

Somehow the sports medias need for all these round table discussions is somewhat mystifying to begin with but hey, the advertisers are paying so its gotta be worthy.

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#34 Reg Dunlop
May 07 2012, 11:17AM
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I aint no rocket scientist but I think many Canadians share genetic ancestry with Russian, Scandanavian and continental Europeans. We are all within the caucasian race so wanting the oil to avoid a Russian draft pick is NOT racist.

My belief is that Stanley's mug is a dream of every Canadian trained hockey player. It is not the dream of every Euro-trained player. With the end of communism and the increased media exposure of NHL hockey world wide this likely is changing but still I think many Euro players would rather bring Olympic gold home.

Shop local and draft Murray.

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#35 @Oilanderp
May 07 2012, 11:18AM
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We all know that a coin flip is 50%. I flip a coin 9 times and it comes up heads every time. I then ask the average person to pick heads or tails on the 10th flip. You can be reasonably sure that most people will pick tails even though most of us know that each coin flip is mutually exclusive, i.e. that the fact that the last 9 flips turned up heads does not change the probability of the next coin flip being tails one iota. It's human nature.

What does this have to do with the fear of Russians? I'm not sure, but there's something in this analogy somewhere.

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#36 David S
May 07 2012, 11:21AM
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Or we could accept the fact that the number of people watching NHL hockey for the entertainment value far, FAR outweigh the guys who live to debate stats and the nuances of the modern game online.

In that light, Cherry and his ilk are more valuable from the general public's point of view. Thus they will continue to exist.

I know it stings for some of you, but it is what it is.

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#37 Rick
May 07 2012, 11:21AM
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@Clyde Frog

Yes, but the first question is who is the most likely to consider it as an legit option?

The second is who would the KHL be most likely to offer everything and the kitchen sink to?

The third question is would NHL teams consider threats from Russian players going home more seriously than threats from a Canadian kid?

If after consideration the Oilers deem any potential risk as reasonable then take him. My point is simply that they can't ignore it as a concern because they see his talent and simply want/need to believe someone as dynamic as him would be committed or they don't want to look un-PC in how they conduct business.

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#38 @Oilanderp
May 07 2012, 11:33AM
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Reading JW's article has made me realize something. There are two issues here. 1. More attention is paid to Russians that screw up than, say, Canadians. 2. There is a perception that Russians probably have a higher chance of bolting to the KHL.

The problem here is that perhaps in the media these two points are not being kept separate. The first concern is idiotic xenophobia, the second a perhaps valid concern.

It should be a media member's job to ensure that these two issues are kept distinct when offering commentary.

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Great article JW.

I used to watch Don Cherry every Saturday night when I was younger. I found him entertaining and insightful. Then I grew up and figured out what he was all about. I haven't watched a coach's corner in about 15 years.

It's always a slippery slope when discussing nationalities, style of play, type of person, etc because it's way to easy to start generalizing. As Willis points out,a douche bag like Avery shouldn't have any bearing on how other Canadians are judged.

It goes both ways too. When the Ward-twitter thing blew up, a black friend of mine was so angry that he went as far as pointing out that it was great that he scored the goal against Thomas, the white goalie who refused to go see Obama, a black president. A couple of us kinda freaked on him, as it was an absolute bonehead thing to say as Thomas made it clear that he wasn't going to the White House because of his political views and not because Obama is black. We told him that's it ok to not like someone without being racist.

The fact is, there will always be douche bags no matter what race, nationality, religion. If you judge an entire race or nationality based on a few douche bags then you become one of the douche bags of your race and nationality.

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#40 Reg Dunlop
May 07 2012, 12:19PM
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I have looked for the most updated stats and from what I can see:

Canada and the US each have about 500,000 minor hockey players registered. US has 10 times the population. Russia has about 40,000 registered minor hockey players(many more play rec hockey for non-club teams) and 5 times Canada's population.In the last 20 years, 2461 Canucks have been drafted, 1071 Americans,471 Russians, and about 1200 Euros have been selected. Why have scouts chosen Canadians half the time?

If Russians are identified as elite potential early and given access to the best resources shouldn't they make up a larger segment of NHL elite if they are equal to Canadian players in terms of skill, desire, character and other unmeasurable intangibles? Is the NHL practicing favoritism based on nationality or does Canada still just produce the best talent combined with those intangibles like commitment to win Stanley (as opposed to winning Olympic or WHC gold)? Watch LA's Brown backcheck and compare to Ovechkin. Thats why in a nutshell the oil have preferred Canadian players in recent drafts and why they,and other NHL squads, will continue to do so.

Da da Canada, nyet nyet Soviet.

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#41 Dave Lumley
May 07 2012, 12:23PM
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Are you saying that Tambo should ignore the possibility that Nail might 1) be actively persued by the KHL, 2)that he might choose the KHL pay day ahead of the Oilers? This opposed to making the same risk assessment on Murray or Galchenyuk.

If he does not weigh those possibilities is he a Xenophobe?

This in fact is what Spector has said in interviews with Gregor; You can't ignore the potential allure of the KHL to Russian born players. The money difference and the culture of the KHL is a world apart, certainly from the AHL or riding the pine in the NHL while you are learning the trade.

Of course any number of people can take this to far and some afraid of being labelled a xenophobe, not far enough.

As one other poster noted Europeans have a different mind set to what they value, remember Omark saying that he would rather play for Sweden in the Worlds than for OKC for the Calder. Acknowledging these facts is not Xenophobia it is reality.

So, getting back to the important question in all this - who should the Oilers pick first? Not quite sure.

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#42 French Toast Mafia
May 07 2012, 12:27PM
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Hey JW do you not think that blaming playoff exits on guys like Thornton and Marleau who just simply haven't played on good enough teams is just as bad as saying that Russians are bad pick ups for teams. Thornton has never been close to as bad as people say he is in the playoffs, people just talk about it because it's an easy thing to say. Like Gregor mentioned last week Marleau is one of 5 active players to have scored 50 or more playoff goals. There are a lot of things you hear all the time like Russians are bad and "this guy disappears in the playoffs" that are not accurate. People just constantly say it because it makes them sound bold and smart being critical of someone that doesn't win a cup or is from Russia.

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#43 Chris.
May 07 2012, 12:30PM
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I don't think it is racist for team in a Canadian market to lean toward drafting Canadian players. You avoid a lot of adjustment issues.

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#44 madjam
May 07 2012, 12:34PM
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As long as KHL stays in operation it remains a concern . Let us not also forget the NHL is also looking at expansion overseas . Either one could make signing outside current NHL dicey down the road . Safe bet would be stick with N.American if possible .

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#45 madjam
May 07 2012, 12:38PM
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Does Yakupov fit in the Ovechin or Malkin caliber of player ? If not , maybe we should look to draft top rated N.American ?

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#46 Quicksilver ballet
May 07 2012, 12:46PM
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This type of thinking reminds me of unions. For the most part unions do some positive things but they're also there to protect some who aren't an ideal fit. If you need someone to insulate you from the conditions of the workplace/market, you'll soon be weeded out. Grapes is a non union kind of guy. Sink or swim based on your own abilities. Dons methods/ways would still work surprisingly well today, despite what the pencilnecks think.

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#47 Banger
May 07 2012, 01:08PM
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"He’s simply not a credible analyst when compared to the various recently-fired coaches and ex-players that provide expertise at TSN and CBC and Sportsnet."

Don gives his opinion and holds nothing back. I respect that. I find him very refreshing to most of the crap that people throw out there and try and make it a story.

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#48 Magnum
May 07 2012, 01:09PM
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Right, national identity has nothing to do with forming a person's thoughts, ideas, and personality. But for some unknown reason we have the best hockey players per capita in the world... must be a coincidence, not related to nationality, geography or anything like that, totally unrelated.

I like JW's articles about numbers better.

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#49 Fresh Mess
May 07 2012, 01:55PM
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It is perfectly sensible to examine all variables when you are dealing with an extremely valuable pick that could be leveraged to fill several glaring holes in your line up in one transaction.

I have seen too many bad attitudes, and poor commitment levels from too many Russian scorers over the last 25 years. Gritty role players and defensive specialists it doesn't seem to be anymore of a problem than with any other nation. It's the hotshot scorers.

Of course there have been many great Russian players and no one is questioning their ability. Ability alone will not win cups.

I would have Larionov, Tony Semenov, Vlad Konstantinov or Ulanov on my team any day.

Kovalchuk, Mogilny, Kovalev, Radulov etc I could do without. I wouldn't have Avery, Heatley, Petr Klima or several other types on my team either.

I think the scouts had better get a very good read on this kid's personality and character before they take him in exchange for the first over all draft pick. Especially when you consider his diminutive size and the lure of the KHL.

Would I draft this kid in the top ten? Sure I would. But first overall I think there is a better way to go.

You obviously disagree with me Willis, that's fine, but spare me the politically correct sanctimony.

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#50 Oiler Al
May 07 2012, 02:04PM
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Don Cherry, has been irrelivant for many many years now. The only thing current with the guy is the curtain material he calls jackets and ties. Coaches corner is not entertaining nor informative in my opinion.You have one guy babbling and the other nodding his head like bubble head. I think hockey entertainment comes from the ice and information and points of interest come from commentators , panel shows etc.THE WORST WORST PANEL IS J P STOCK , WITH KELLY HURDY ALONG WITH MCLEAN... STOCK IS A BIGGER JOKE THAN CHERRY.

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