On Luke Prokop
Let me preface this paragraph by making it abundantly clear that as a cis-hetero man, I’m not the authority on this subject and I implore you to also seek out other articles from those more qualified. With that said, Luke Prokop coming out as openly gay stands as the biggest story from the big four sports leagues this week and we need to talk about it. Spencer already shared the link yesterday if you want to hear directly from Prokop, and I’d recommend starting with the player himself. Prokop is being profoundly brave, and is taking a meaningful risk with his career by coming out.
There’s more to this story than just one news cycle. In the words of a longtime friend of the blog: It’s time to listen to actual queer people. There’s been a lot of congratulatory back-patting and while this is a cause for celebration, we need to keep in mind that the league and the team weren’t the ones that did this. This moment belongs to the player himself. We also need to beware of the narrative that a non-hetero player can actually fit in to the league when in fact the league, the sport, and our culture is what needs to adapt. From the same article linked above, a league built on a foundation of toxic masculinity can’t call itself inclusive (in Andrew’s own words):
For men’s hockey to become truly inclusive of the infinite variety of queer lives, to welcome not just queer teammates, coaches, and managers, but those who work for the team and at the arenas, as well as the fans who come and watch the games, this toxic culture needs to be torn down.
We can still see plenty of structural gaps in hockey’s approach to inclusivity, whether it’s the commodification of pride, the exclusion of diverse voices, or the attempt to manufacture a singular narrative of what it means to be out in hockey. We as a community of hockey and sports fans run the risk of standing on our laurels because a professional hockey player has come out. We have so much more work to do to actually restructure this community and make it truly inclusive. Prokop’s coming out isn’t the last step on this journey, it’s the first step.
On Joey Daccord
It’s okay not to be okay today. Having committed myself to Sens prospect coverage for a while now, I personally feel gutted losing Joey Daccord in the expansion draft. Joey has that rare charisma that so many hockey players lack, and he endeared himself to the fanbase so effectively in such a short period of time. As so many have said, I hope Joey has a long successful NHL career even if we can’t see him in a Sens jersey again. To this extent, I didn’t even mind the idea of a gambit wherein Ottawa exposed Evgenii Dadonov as a lure to protect Daccord. I had also hoped that Daccord’s season-ending injury would “protect” him, but alas. So while Daccord has a clear floor as an NHL goalie, Sens fans should feel excited about the ceilings of Filip Gustavsson and Mads Søgaard. Daccord’s departure likely does not influence the team’s strategy at the entry draft today, but given the flood of comments on this site since Seattle claimed Daccord, I get the impression a lot of you feel as affected as I do about Joey’s departure.
In A League of Their Own
In case you missed it (and if so then you really lost out) an all-female crew called an MLB game for the first time on Tuesday and they absolutely killed it. As hockey fans, we’ve gotten used to seeing and hearing more from female journalists during NHL broadcasts in recent years and we’ve enjoyed an overall better experience for it. I feel compelled to write about this today only because there’s no coincidence in the success of female sports coverage. For years we’ve heard a lot of the same male voices hack their way through broadcasts uncontested (don’t act like we don’t have opinions on this!). As much as I enjoy some of the voices who have covered Senators hockey over the years (OK, mostly Ian and Wally), if I hear one more anecdote about a cab ride or a cheap motel, I might smash my goddamn radio. If you caught the ballgame on Tuesday, then you got hours of uninterrupted sports coverage of the highest quality with no ums, no uhs, and no “this one time in Milwaukee.” Just real insight from stats, to scouting reports, and some real insider tidbits. It was bliss. Everyone had clearly put in hours of research for this game, and in decades of watching sports, I’ve scarcely borne witness to such thorough analysis. That brings me to my bottom line here, men in any industry (myself included!) can get away with hacking. For the women breaking down these walls, they have to be the absolute best in their field (we see this with hockey broadcasts too!). Tuesday was a master class performance to say the least.
On Pierre McGuire
So let’s talk about that other broadcaster who sent our fanbase into a frenzy (80+ comments on this write-up alone). Before I say anything else, let me congratulate Sens army for getting so riled up about the hiring of a non-coach and non-manager — let alone an actual player transaction! Best fans in hockey. You can love or hate the hiring of Pierre by Pierre, but here’s the thing: nothing has changed. I don’t mean in the sense that Pierre McGuire won’t do anything; he probably will do many things. But more than anything else, look at this hiring as an affirmation. The Senators are exactly who we thought they were. For lack of a better explanation, they’re not one of the “cool” teams. This front office is old, out of touch, and easy to make fun of. They’re not the Hurricanes or the Kings. I also know that if I want to cheer for the cool, young, futuristic teams then I can leave anytime I want. Yet for all I know, Ottawa’s current staff will make it work. Teams have won with meat and potatoes lineups in the not-too-distant past; just look to the St. Louis Blues for old-school inspiration. The Sens will keep drafting, developing, and building the way their dads did. I have no issue with it because I signed up for the unwavering fandom of a budget team.
On Evgenii Dadonov
When I’ve read some of the things this fanbase has said online about Dadonov, I think to myself: this is why we can’t have nice things. We have a tradition in Ottawa of zoning in on one or two Senators who polarize the fanbase like no one else. We could call it the Peter Regin effect or something to do with memories of Patrick Wiercioch. Cody Ceci. I don’t know. Either way, Dadonov probably took the cake among forwards this year. I like that we as a fanbase can have internal discussions meriting the eye test versus fancy stats, and I’ll listen to both sides when it comes to players like Dadonov. I won’t dissect Dadonov’s season at length because nkb already has. However, I feel compelled to say that if you don’t like the contract and don’t like that Daddy couldn’t finish on the powerplay last season then please don’t complain about how the Sens never “go for it.” Odds are about one in 500 that your team will go out and get the exact player you want them to. Odds are probably 50/50 that they’ll even acquire a good player when they go shopping. Dadonov is an objectively good player on a fair contract who chose to come to Ottawa as a UFA (during a rebuild!). Pierre Dorion swung for the fences on this one and actually connected for once. I still can’t wrap my head around fans ragging on this dude. Would I rather have Daccord post expansion draft? Sure. Does that make Dadonov a bad signing? No. Does that mean sell him for scraps? Absolutely not. Dadonov is easily the most MacArthurian signing Ottawa’s had since Clarke MacArthur. We won’t realize how valuable he is until he’s gone. We don’t know what we want. I’m imploring you: Be nice to daddy.