Every so often, an old retired hockey player emerges from the haze and muck to provide a quote proving why they probably shouldn’t share their thoughts with the world.
Step up, Brett Hull!
For some reason, Sean O’Leary of The Score decided to ask Hull about the Brendan Leipsic what-have-ya. What followed was a classic old-man-yells-at-cloud-about-not-getting-to-be-a-misogynist-anymore rant. Here’s the meat of it, all of which is between Hull’s ears:
“We did the same things, we said the same things, but there was no way to get caught,” Hull said on Sportsnet’s “Hockey Central” on Friday. “We can go out after games, we can go to strip clubs, we can go to bars, and we could do whatever we wanted, and it would all be hearsay.”
“The fun is gone,” he added. “The game is not fun anymore to me.”Apparently, making fun of your teammates’ wives or degrading any woman you see was part and parcel of being an NHL hockey player, and without that what’s the point of making millions playing a game? Whenever these things happen, there isn’t a call within the game for the players to be better, just be better at not getting caught. Hull certainly wouldn’t be alone in the hockey world thinking Leipsic did nothing wrong other than get exposed.
Hull goes on to complain that players take their “XBox” on the road with them (how did Xbox corner the market on being the name greying farts use to deride video game systems? Do you ever hear a codger railing against the youth and their PS4s?) because they’re afraid of getting caught doing something on the road. This ignores A) finding stories of hockey players out and about is just about as tricky as throwing a rock out your window (same intelligence level, too) and B) It could just be hockey players take their physical conditioning a tad more seriously than they did in Hull’s heyday, where doing keg stands shirtless at a bar was considered your conditioning test.
No sport is as suspicious of outsiders or more beholden to its “ways” than hockey, even when it comes to exposing the occasional pig, asshole, or downright danger to society. Hockey always assumes that because it was done one way in the past, that’s how it should be done, and when those things change, the game is lost. Nothing looks backward as well as hockey does.
Of course, being a shitbird seems to run in the Hull family. And yet you’ll still find Bobby Hull in NHL circles as an ambassador for the Blackhawks, or glad-handing at various other events, or interviewed during broadcasts rather regularly. Hockey never lets go, even when it’s so obvious.
Hockey still has huge problems with this sort of thing, and some of it stems from the fact that a good portion of its players’ only social upbringing took place in just a hockey locker room room. They’re away from parents and schools in their mid-teens. Perhaps one day the hockey media will figure out there’s not much use in consulting retired players who, after getting through all that being an NHL player used to mean, have settled into a life of....well, this.
Sadly, we’re not there yet.