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Canadiens issue a statement against violence and racism

Young protesters hold signs during anti-racist and anti-police brutality demonstration in Montreal on May 31, 2020.
Young protesters hold signs during anti-racist and anti-police brutality demonstration in Montreal on May 31, 2020.

On Monday, the Canadiens joined many other pro sports teams, leagues and players in issuing an official statement on social media expressing their support for peaceful protests after George Floyd, a black man, was killed in Minnesota by a policeman.

“Like everyone else, we were horrified by the images of this heinous and despicable crime,” read the Canadiens’ statement, which was posted on Twitter. “Violence and racism need to stop, and as an organization we have always been committed to doing our part to share our fundamental values of inclusion and respect.”

Evander Kane, a black player with the San Jose Sharks, joined Stephen Brunt, Richard Deitsch and former Montreal Gazette baseball writer Jeff Blair on Toronto Sportsnet 590 The FAN’s Writers Bloc show Friday and called on more voices in prominent positions in the sports world and elsewhere to speak up and show their outrage.

Kane also spoke about the culture in hockey, where he said “rocking the boat” is frowned upon.

“The problem is that hockey culture and the way it’s ingrained, especially in terms of Canada and throughout minor hockey, is to put your head down, go to work, and shut your mouth,” Kane said. “That’s essentially the message from when you step on the ice from five years or eight years old, whenever it may be. And it’s continuously pounded in to you, to conform to what everybody else is doing.

“And when you have certain players that don’t conform to what these old-school mindsets that are at the top are telling you to do, then you’re viewed as a bad apple or a problem or a bad guy. And that’s a major problem, and there’s been plenty of examples of that.”

Former Canadien P.K. Subban immediately comes to mind for me.

Below is a tweet linking to an story with reaction from several NHL players on social media, including Subban, who quotes the late rapper Tupac Shakur saying: “It’s not black against white. When I say ‘we,’ it’s the good against the evil.”

NFL statement is laughable

Commissioner Roger Goodell issued an official statement on behalf of the NFL on the weekend that actually made me laugh.

“We recognize the power of our platform in communities and as part of the fabric of American society,” Goodell wrote. “We embrace that responsibility and are committed to continuing the important work to address these systemic issues together with our players, clubs and partners.”

This is the same NFL that kicked former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick out of the league for kneeling during the national anthem before games as a silent protest against police brutality against African-Americans in the U.S.

What happened in Minnesota is the exact reason why Kaepernick and some other NFL players were taking a knee during the 2016 season. Maybe the NFL should have listened back then and embraced “that responsibility” Goodell now writes about.

Sally Jenkins of the Washington Post wrote a fantastic column on the weekend about Kaepernick and the NFL.

“Two knees,” Jenkins wrote to begin her column. “One protesting in the grass, one pressing on the back of a man’s neck. Choose. You have to choose which knee you will defend. There are no half choices; there is no room for indifference. There is only the knee of protest or the knee on the neck.

“NFL owners chose the knee on the neck.”

Jenkins’s entire column is a must-read. Click here to read it.

Air Jordan weighs in

Even former NBA superstar Michael Jordan weighed in on what happened in Minnesota with an official statement on Twitter.

Jordan has never been one to weigh in on social issues and took heat during a 1990 Senate race in his home state of North Carolina when he was with the Chicago Bulls and refused to endorse Democrat Harvey Gantt, an African-American who was running against incumbent Republican Jesse Helms, who was regarded as a notorious racist.

Jordan, who made hundreds of millions of dollars over the years by endorsing Nike, was quoted at the time saying: “Republicans buy sneakers, too.

During the recent ESPN documentary series about Jordan titled The Last Dance , which can be seen in Canada on Netflix, Jordan said his comment was a joke.

“I don’t think that statement needs to be corrected because I said it in jest on a bus with Horace Grant and Scottie Pippen,” Jordan says in the documentary. “It was thrown off the cuff. My mother asked to do a PSA for Harvey Gantt, and I said: ‘Look, Mom, I’m not speaking out of pocket about someone that I don’t know. But I will send a contribution to support him.’ Which is what I did.

“I do commend Muhammad Ali for standing up for what he believed in,” Jordan added. “But I never thought of myself as an activist. I thought of myself as a basketball player. I wasn’t a politician when I was playing my sport. I was focused on my craft. Was that selfish? Probably. But that was my energy. That’s where my energy was.”

Helms ended up winning re-election to a fourth term in North Carolina, getting 52.6 per cent of the vote, while Gantt received 47.4 per cent.

Jordan’s decision to weigh-in now on what happened in Minnesota might have something to do with the excellent Nike “Don’t Do It” video below, which was retweeted by the Canadiens’ Max Domi.

This Date in Habs History

It was on June 1, 1988 that the Canadiens hired Pat Burns as their new head coach, replacing Jean Perron.

“When you hire Pat Burns, you hire his instincts,” former Montreal Gazette columnist Michael Farber wrote in the next day’s paper.

“You don’t spend 16 years of your life as a cop without developing instincts,” Farber continued. “You know who’s who, what’s what, and who might be looking to stick a shiv in your ribs.

“Whether those instincts click in at a bar in Gatineau or in the locker room of the Montreal Canadiens, it doesn’t much matter. The Canadiens hired themselves a hockey coach yesterday but they also hired themselves a cop. Burns still has the instincts, the nose. A good cop never loses his nose.

Yeah, you go into the dressing room and you can spot the bad guys, the jerks, who’s lying, ” Burns told Farber. “ After so many years as a policeman, you get a sense of things. Even in your private life. You see something happening, and you make note of the licence plate. It’s just something that becomes part of you.

“The Canadiens can use a cop,” Farber wrote. “Or a babysitter. Either one probably could do the job with a group of miscreants that needs constant care.”

Burns would take the Canadiens to the Stanley Cup final in his first year behind the bench before losing to the Calgary Flames. Burns made the playoffs in each of his four seasons with the Canadiens before deciding to leave Montreal and become coach of the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Burns would go on to win the Stanley Cup with the New Jersey Devils in 2003.

Sadly, Burns passed away on Nov. 19, 2010 after a long battle with cancer. He was 58.

Birthday boy

Happy birthday to former Expos outfielder/first-baseman Brad Wilkerson, who turned 43 on Monday.

Wilkerson spent four seasons with the Expos and was in the lineup for their final game at Olympic Stadium when they lost 9-1 to the Florida Marlins on Sept. 29, 2004, in front of 31,395 fans. After the game, Wilkerson tried to talk to a few reporters, but as Jack Todd wrote in the Montreal Gazette the next day, Wilkerson “ broke down himself and slumped weeping over his spikes, too upset to speak.”

Wilkerson was also in the lineup on Oct. 3, 2004, when the Expos lost 8-1 to the New York Mets at Shea Stadium in their final game before becoming the Washington Nationals.

The last home game was a little tougher, with how the fans stood up and showed so much class and were loud, as Montreal fans always are, ” Wilkerson told former Montreal Gazette baseball writer Stephanie Myles after the game in New York.

Remembering Michel Plasse

Monday would have been former Canadiens goalie Michel Plasse’s 72nd birthday.

Sadly, Plasse died from a heart attack on Dec. 30, 2006, at age 58.

The Canadiens selected Plasse with the No. 1 overall pick at the 1968 NHL Draft. He remains one of only three goalies ever to be selected No. 1 at the draft, along with Rick DiPietro (2000, New York Islanders) and Marc-André Fleury (2003, Pittsburgh Penguins).

On Feb. 21, while playing for the Kansas City Blues in the CHL, Plasse became the first professional goalie to score a goal in a game against Oklahoma City.

Plante would spend two seasons with the Canadiens before being claimed by the Kansas City Scouts in the 1974 NHL expansion draft.

Quote of the day

I absolutely love the quote below from Bobby Orr’s mother that hockey-writing legend Stan Fischler shared on Twitter Monday.

Orr has two brothers, Ron and Doug, and two sisters, Pat and Penny.

Video of the day

I also absolutely love the tweet and video below from Sergey Kocharov, who is the vice-president of communications for the Washington Capitals.

It’s an important video with what’s going on in the world today.


Copyright Postmedia Network Inc., 2020

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