People You May Know: PITB chats with Raffi about the Canucks, one-sided viewing, and fighting in hockey

You probably know Raffi (Cavoukian, not Torres) from the albums you listened to as a child. The troubadour is behind some of the greatest children’s songs of all time, such as “Baby Beluga”, “Bananaphone”, and “Down by the Bay.”

Raffi is also the founder of The Centre for Child Honouring, a non-profit organization “Working for a better world for kids, a more peaceful society, and a planet that’s restored.” According to Raffi, “It’s for a good life [and] a world fit for children, so we can benefit the whole of society.”

Just recently, Raffi ventured into the world of hockey. He was the man behind the #MuteDonCherry tweet-up, a drive to quietly protest the CBC personality’s brash approach and propaganda by simply muting him. “Cherry is a pro-fight proponent of hockey violence,” Raffi said. “That’s indefensible. It sets a terrible example for kids. It stains a game of skill with brute intimidation.” The Twitter movement led to Raffi’s first two appearances on sports talk radio.

Raffi has been pointed, direct and convincing about the sport’s need to rid fighting from the game altogether. A hockey fan since the age of 10 when his family emigrated from Cairo, Egpyt to Toronto and his father served the family pie on Saturday nights when the Leafs scored, Raffi loves the game. He simply feels fighting has no place in it.

Raffi has been a Canucks fan since he moved from Toronto to Vancouver in 1990 and “caught the bug,” as he says. His current favourite players are “the whole team.” Since PITB makes a habit of chatting with Canuck fans of note, we decided to do exactly that, speaking with Raffi about the home team, subjectivity in the hockey media, and what fighting in the game teaches our kids.

***

So let’s talk about your anti-fighting stance, because I agree with it. Between Daniel and I, who run Pass it to Bulis, I’m definitely more of a pacifist when it comes to hockey fighting, which is ironic, because he’s a Mennonite and very much a pacifist in real-life.

How does he do that in his own mind, does he split himself up? Because that kind of goes to the heart of what we’re talking about here, you know? These values don’t exist in silos, and hockey culture is part of society. I think it impacts how people think more than they give consideration. How does Daniel do that, if he’s a pacifist and he’s a Mennonite, is it that hockey is giving his latent aggression some expression or something? What’s going on?

We’ve talked about it before and he said that a lot of it had to do with the fact that it’s not like real life. Whereas, in real-life, if a guy like Matt Cooke is a jerk to you, you can’t just punch him a bunch of times. I think that the visceral reaction to seeing justice get served, so to speak, is something that really appeals to him. And I think it appeals to a lot of people. [Editor's note: Daniel's perspective is much better represented here.]

My comment is that justice does not get served, revenge does. Big difference. And secondly, it is real-life because the injured player has to go to a hospital, get stitched up or worse, have surgery. The family’s affected, he’s affected, if it’s an injury that’s harmful to the brain through repeated fisticuffs — and we know that this is a reality, I’m using the word reality here — you tell me which part of this is not real life.

The thought that hockey and professional hockey isn’t part of real life, that itself is a fantasy. It doesn’t bear scrutiny.

What would your response be, then, to the people who say, if it’s just the threat of injury, those sorts of things happen on hits and all of the other play that goes along with the physicality of hockey?

With hockey you’re gonna get a certain number of injuries, it’s just gonna happen because you’re on ice, you’re on skates, the stick’s gonna come up, pucks are flying at very fast speeds, and there’s some body contact. Now wouldn’t it be really smart of us to minimize the injuries to just that—the unavoidable accidents?

And the question I would ask your audience is, do we agree that the aim in hockey should not be to hurt another, it shouldn’t be to harm another, can we agree on that? Because if we can’t agree on that we’re in trouble. The aim in a hockey game should not be to injure, and that’s the spirit of non-violence with which I would seek to pacify the game. And I’m using my words consciously here.

It does not take away at all the excitement of a hockey game, the thrill of victory, the thrill of excellence, sportsmanship, which is actually a really elevated, wonderful feeling in the brain and the heart and all over. If you take the overt violence out of it, there’s just a natural sort of competition that’s gonna arise. We see it in the Olympics. We see it when our fantastic national women’s team — which I’m a real fan of — when they take to the ice. It’s fabulous, and you don’t miss it [violence] in those situations. I really wonder whether people are addicted to the adrenaline of violence.

Could be. Despite my stance, I will admit I get excited when two guys drop the gloves. There is that visceral reaction. Does that ever happen to you?

I get disgusted by it. I turn away. I don’t want that. I want those guys ejected at the first hint of a fight, because I don’t like how the rules are. I don’t like the fact that fighting even exists in hockey. I think it has no place in the game. During the whole ugly phase of the NHL when you had the Philadelphia Flyers called the Broad Street Bullies, I was so disgusted that I tuned out for quite a long time.

Okay, then I have a question: That 1976 game between the Flyers and the Red Army, where the Russians left the ice… Canadian talk about that like it was a crowning moment for us. Like the Russians were weak and we showed them. What’s your take on that?

What a juvenile attitude that is. Everybody is playing politics in these games, so I understand their move. Understandable, given what the heck they were facing. Again, I’ll come back to: what is the point of a hockey game? Is it for brute force to prevail? Is that why these hockey players strap on their skates and get out there?

*laughter*… I laugh because it’s so absurd. It’s not about brute force, so why pretend it is? It’s about the skills in the game, so if you’re team isn’t skilled, so they’ve got to resort to brute force to gain the upper hand, then what does victory mean? It’s hollow.

Seems like a good lead-in to the talk about the Stanley Cup Final. I remember, after the Canucks were up 2-0, Justin Bourne tweeted that the Bruins weren’t out of the series, they just had to turn these games ugly. And he wasn’t wrong, as it turns out. That’s what they did and that’s how the series wound up swinging in their favour. What is your take on that? Because it’s the same basic narrative as the Flyers versus the Red Army. The Canucks were weak, and so on.

I’m gonna use the Don Cherry word: “Beauty”. I wanna ask this question: where’s the beauty in ugly? Ugly stinks. It has no place in the game. It maims and it injures. It’s a terrible example to kids. Look, in the Cup Final, what upset me so much — and it happens every playoffs, and this is a critique I have of the NHL and the way it handles its officiating corps… it is ridiculous for a sport not to have the integrity of an officiating corps dedicated to calling every infraction. If you waver on that, where’s the integrity of the game? What, in some games we’re gonna call it more closely and others not? This is patent nonsense. How does this inspire confidence in the fans? What does that say to children? “Dad, he just crosschecked that guy and he didn’t give him a penalty?” “Mom, did you see that slash Thomas gave on that guy who wasn’t in the crease? He got no penalty.” This drives kids crazy. They don’t understand it.

I think a lot of adults don’t understand it, I certainly don’t understand it.

That’s what I’m saying to you, there’s no explanation for it. You have a rule book. Call every single infraction and you will see that crap — the cheap shots and that stuff — come down because every time you do it you’ll hurt your team. There’s always gonna be grey zones and I understand that, but your intention from the outset should be clear: it should be transparent by the league that this is how we’re gonna call the games. Otherwise it’s not fair to anybody.

In no other pro sport, when the playoffs come around, does the officiating change.

What about the concern that calling every infraction slows the game down? I think, as refreshing as it was to see the refs use their whistles a little more in last Saturday’s game versus the Bruins, it didn’t quite have the same pace as some of the Final games because of that.

Yeah, but it didn’t lose intensity at all. Obviously, if the league tomorrow made the decision that they were gonna call everything, the first little while, you’re gonna see a lot of infractions, a lot of penalties, because they’re just getting used to that transition. but very soon you’d see a new normal in the game, where the guys who do this kind of stuff, they wouldn’t do it because they’re gonna hurt their team. The point is, there’s a rule book, and you Law and Order types out there, I’m appealing to you. Use the rulebook.

You’re Raffi, so you have to know your comments on violence in hockey are always going to be brushed aside as peacenik ranting, especially among the rough-and-tumble sports crowd. Do you think that’s a fair criticism? What makes a children’s singer equipped to talk about the game?

I’m a longtime fan. I love the game. I’m also a systems thinker, I see things in whole, I think big picture. That said, as a citizen fed up with violence masquerading as entertainment, I have every right to speak out. As a children’s advocate, it’s my duty. As a peace advocate, again, it’s my duty.

I just really love the game, and I know this conversation stirs passion. I really appreciate those people who can engage the dialogue without being abusive, without hurling insults, and we’re Canadians. We’re peacemakers. We oughta think about that. We can make peace on and off the ice. Tribal loyalty is a wonderful thing, but when it goes too far, descends into family feuds, that can be harmful and I think we can transcend the tribal loyalty feeling — it’s a natural feeling, but we can transcend that feeling with an elevated sense of what the game is.

Sometimes when I watch, you know, you’re watching the game, and you can just clue in to your team and what they’re doing, and be bummed out about what they’re doing, whatever. If you kind of just pull back from that way of thinking, and look at both teams and what they’re doing, you see a different game.

I agree. I think that’s a big thing that’s been going on right now with the Boston and Vancouver fans. We see two completely different games.

Yeah. If you just, sometimes, just for a minute, key in on what the other team’s trying to do, almost as if you were their fans, you appreciate their skills, what they’re trying to do tactically and so on. We can enjoy the whole game even as we cheer on our favourite team.

I think for a lot of people that’s really difficult to do. It’s difficult, first of all, to admit that you have a bias, and then to wrestle your mind way from it. Do you really think it’s just as simple as pulling back and watching the other team?

I think it’s a good exercise, and it gets better with practice. You just get a different take on the game because it is a game and that’s what I want to stress over and over again. This is a game to be enjoyed, right?

One thing that we really speak out about over at PITB is the subjective coverage that we get from both sides, becasue I think that it causes a lot of these difficulties. Rather than reporting on the game in an objective, unbiased way, we get slant for our fanbase. I mean, it’s what people want, but it feeds into this issue.

I think fans deserve more than that.

I agree. And I think that this whole media battle between Boston and Vancouver is a product of two biased medias.

Let us be the peacemakers. Let the Canadian side be the peacemakers, and if they want to descend into something else, let’s not engage.

***

When asked about the impact he’s had on my generation, Raffi said, “If my Centre had $25 for every time a fan told me how much my music meant to them as a child, we’d have ample funding.” But that hasn’t happened, so if you want to contribute to the Center for Child Honouring, please do so here. And be sure to Follow them on Facebook and Twitter.

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50 comments

  1. TheOldFirm
    January 13, 2012

    Was this inverview conducted via bananaphone?

    Seriously awesome interview though, I really like how you guys found someone with certain star power, but has a bit of a different, outside, take on things.

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    • Shand
      January 13, 2012

      AHAHAHAHHAHAHA I must be tired because this is hilarious

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  2. Kit
    January 13, 2012

    This is a really interesting conversation, and quite convincing to the rational side of me who thinks something along the lines of what Daniel does about fighting in hockey. But my love of fighting in hockey also has roots in traditionalism and the fact that I enjoy fighting as a participant as well as a spectator, which I think is a less fraught position to hold. As well I think something of the appeal of fighting in hockey comes from the purity of violence on a level playing field: it’s not racialized or gendered or class-based. That is part of it that feels ‘not like real life’.

    I’m just rambling now since I haven’t let all this percolate, but thank you for having this conversation. Very thought-provoking stuff.

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  3. sarah
    January 13, 2012

    Great article! He should write a song about fighting in hockey…that’s not entirely a joke

    I am now inspired to go listen to some Joshua Giraffe…

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  4. madwag
    January 13, 2012

    mr. moooney,

    two things: first the verb is “affect” not “effect”. “effect” is a noun except when used as a verb meaning to create change. second this conversation is simply fantastic! it is so right on, bang on, and spot on! as i suggested in an earlier comment soccer is a beautiful game not only by its nature but also by its rules: you use “excessive force” and you are gone for the rest of the game and at least another one too. until hockey implements a similar policy at the major professional level, this potentially beautiful game will remain marred and spoiled by ugly incidents which are morally and aesthetically offensive. those who take joy in watching players drive others headfirst into the boards or attempt to beat others into submission are sick and can go find their entertainment watching mixed martial arts which is also sick and has no legitimate place in twenty-first century society. let’s grow up and do what we can to save the planet from imminent ecological catastrophes, economic injustices, and the stupidity of wars and when we’ve need for entertainment take pleasure in people exhibiting skills well beyond our capabilities in arts, sports and otherwhere. cheers for making the world a better place to be.

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    • Pat
      January 13, 2012

      Considering that this is only a blog post, we’re getting a little bit anal about word usage, aren’t we?

      And if we’re going to hold everyone to that standard, I’m pretty sure that the Chicago Manual of Style also has something to say about your not capitalizing the first letter of the first word of sentences.

      You’ve also got a lot to learn about how to use commas.

      You should have, for example, inserted a comma after the word “second” in the sentence “second this conversation is simply fantastic!”

      Unless, of course, you know this but decided not to be too anal about things … because this is, after all, only a blog post.

      Great interview Harrison!

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      • madwag
        January 13, 2012

        What a beautiful composition! It opens with a marvelous rhetorical question to which one could only respond, “Yes!”, unless, that is, one ignores the ad hominem slur and asks, “Is it really okay to use ‘effect’ when in fact ‘affect’ is the correct usage?” Harrison, being, like myself, a university graduate with an English major, obviously doesn’t think so as he quickly corrected his error when it was drawn to his attention, just as he changed “he” to “him” in another post when he realized that a preposition requires the objective case. But I digress.

        Yours truly is a beautiful composition. It has an engaging introduction and then not only proceeds to attack me for my indiscretions, in particular those involving lack of capitalization and ignorance regarding commas, but also provides an illustrative example to emphasize the point. Bravo!

        I do in fact choose “not to be too anal about things” not because this is “only a blog post” but because anality is pointlessly stressful; however, as I know Mr. Mooney believes in correct usage regardless of the context, except on those occasions when a deliberate bending of the rules is required for an effect which will affect the reader in a particular way, such as choosing not to use capitals, I feel compelled to point out his occasional errors. I’m postive he doesn’t mind because when he does mind he lets me know, as he righteously did on one occasion when I accused him of lacking class for presenting his readers with a rather crude observation. But again I wander from the topic which is to complement you on a fine piece of writing.

        I love your conclusion! It nicely echoes the introduction with a lovely twist. Cheers for taking your time to level your criticism in such a wonderful way.

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        • Harrison Mooney
          January 13, 2012

          Ha.

          Pat, Madwag’s a friend. A bit of a stickler for sure, but his suggested edits tend to be correct.

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          • Irritated
            January 16, 2012

            Just because he’s right doesn’t mean he’s not a douche.

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  5. John Andress
    January 13, 2012

    Excellent interview. I wonder what Don Cherry would think of it though. It makes it clear to me that the two diametrically opposed sides of the hockey debate are like an Englishman who speaks no French in France trying to order a ham and cheese multigrain sandwich with mayonnaise instead of butter and tarragon Dijon instead of hot mustard. Hold the lettuce and extra pickles please. Not only would he lack the vocabulary to express his desire, if he did the Frenchman probably wouldn’t understand the concept anyway. (Not that there is anything wrong with Frenchmen, Englishmen or ham and cheese etc. sandwiches. For the literal minded, I am trying for a metaphor here.) The two sides just don’t have a common vision of the game. My vision is much the same as your’s and Raffi’s. With extra pickles please.

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  6. J21
    January 13, 2012

    Raffi: you are awesome. So agree with almost everything he says here.

    Although I do disagree somewhat with his last answer — I feel it already is like that, with the Vancouver side being the “peacemakers”. Where are the Chicago/San Jose/Boston versions of PITB? There is no one in the Vancouver media who does what Haggerty or Rozner do, dressing up pep rallies as columns. The Vancouver media isn’t the one throwing out insults for the hell of it, tacking on pointless shots to whatever argument they’re making (“Enjoy your President’s Trophy!”), springing surprise interviews on their rivals, sounding generally like a teenage fan. Rather eerily paralleling these teams on the ice, by not saying anything back or being overly conciliatory — by not at least pointing out facts or holding up a mirror so that people at least acknowledge how ridiculous they’re being — you’re just giving the impression that either they’re right, or you deserve the ridicule, etc. Especially in the stupidly macho hockey culture that Raffi alludes to, where biting the guy whose fingers are in your mouth is WAY WORSE than punching someone repeatedly or injuring them.

    Imagine a civil suit where one guy says “You took my car!” and the other one responds, “‘Car,’ ‘took’… these are all relative, complicated ideas. Let’s just divide the car down the middle and call it fair.” Pretty much makes it sound like you took the car.

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    • J21
      January 13, 2012

      BTW, I am sure there are blogs similar in spirit to PITB in other cities, that’s not what I meant per se — rather, it seems to me that this blog (and many other Canuck ones like it) makes a really strong point of being above the cheerleading stuff, generally only doing it tongue-in-cheek and pointing out biases right away. This appears to be a theme with other Canuck blogs (Tom Benjamin, Cam Charron, Jeff Angus, etc.), where an effort it made to analyze the game, not just act like fanboys. I have to say, while obviously I have my own bias, don’t see this nearly as much in the rest of the Web-world centering around other teams.

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      • jenny wren
        January 13, 2012

        example: Matt Kalman’s “No Whining From Bruins Over Subban Hit” which for the record was nowhere near as nasty as the hit on Salo.

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        • athapap
          January 13, 2012

          a reasonable person could argue that a direct elbow to the head is not only nasty but much more nasty than a bit to the lower body that resulted in a player getting injured in an indirect way (as a result of the manner in which they hit the ice)

          if Subban had hit Crosby instead of Krejci we would be looking at that hit with the same level of scrutiny as the Marchand hit received

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      • Harrison Mooney
        January 13, 2012

        PITB is the only good team blog on the Internet. Tru Fakt.

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        • Chris
          January 13, 2012

          Tru-ism. So much better than that Puck Daddy nonsense.

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          • Timmy Wong
            January 13, 2012

            Now now…Harrison works for PD.

            (although i do have to say Ryan Lambert’s a douche)

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    • Eric B
      January 13, 2012

      Seriously? Are the Canuck fans so blind that they think their team never instigated anything in that series? And your own radio hosts (yesterday I believe) made a statement to the effect “Thornton’s brain is going to end up at BU”. Disrespect the dead, why don’t you. Despicable.

      Some of these comments here are why other fans of the game see you Canucks fans as blind. You really bring this on yourself.

      And as far as fighting goes, there are MANY players in the game that believe that if it is taken from the game then even more players would be injured as a result of lack of owning up to their transgressions.

      btw.. You also seem to forget that Boston outscored the Canucks in the finals by 23-8 so the better team won.

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      • gumby
        January 14, 2012

        Oh for pity’s sakes. You’re barking at the moon.

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  7. jester
    January 13, 2012

    Terrific – Best article I have read on any site ever. Kudos to PITB and their regular posters for all of the poetry, humour, cartoons, hockey insight, and now the courage to address the most serious issue in life. While it manifests itself in Hockey & other sports, to lesser degrees, it is that as children are inadvertantly taught to overcome adversity by any means possible to
    get their own way. It starts small – by lying, cheating, disrespectful comments, intimidation, fighting and more, all the way to brutal violence can seamlessly work its way into life away from sports. As I recall one incident of a hockey player settling a disagreement with a cab driver using force. ETTU BRUTE
    Sports and games are a method of teaching children how to improve within the rules, with no consequences when you lose, other than wanting to improve your skills & strategy to best your opponent. After besting your opponent, they are motivated to improve to gain the advantage. there by everyone improving themselves. I could continue, but Im out of space.
    Thank you for the opportunity to bear my sole, all the best.

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  8. tom selleck's moustache
    January 13, 2012

    Great interview. And I’m in complete agreement with Raffi’s position wrt to fighting and the inconsistencies with game calling by the refs. But, as I’ve mentioned, the problem is that it’s so ingrained in the hockey culture; so that when the old boys throw out the catch phrases of “letting the players decide the game” and “protecting your teammates”, it’s just accepted as gospel without anyone stopping and asking themselves: Does that really pass the sniff test?

    But good on Raffi and Dryden for being willing to step up and challenge those outdated and archaic positions; because it’s only be asking those questions will things ever turned around, slow it may be.

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  9. JDM
    January 13, 2012

    Wow, Raffi is a really eloquent, reasonable dude. Can CBC please put him on the panel?

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  10. Zach Morris
    January 13, 2012

    I’m gonna say this a lot less elegantly than Raffi, but
    Remember the instigator rule?
    The logic was that no guy could go up to another guy and punch him in the head without getting a penalty. This also meant that anyone who started a fight would get an extra penalty.
    After the instigator rule was created, “rats” like Matt Cooke, Sean Avery and most recently Brad Marchand thrived.
    They could aggravate all they wanted, and if you tried to even the score you’d put your team on the penalty kill.
    Since the lockout, teams like Boston, Chicago and Anaheim have won the Cup by employing a combination of tough guys (John Scott) and rats (Dave Bolland). Because of the instigator rule, fighting was left to single-role enforcers. Bolland slashes you, your tough guy has to go fight Scott. It doesn’t make sense.

    No matter how noble your intentions, and no matter how you rewrite the rules, players will find their way through the loopholes.

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    • athapap
      January 13, 2012

      Boston has no single role enforcer. If you think Thornton is re-watch game 7.

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      • Zach Morris
        January 13, 2012

        yeah, they’re more enforcer/third line hybrids, but the point still stands:
        with the instigator rule, instead of the guy who’s doing the aggravating having to stand up for himself against the guy he was aggravating, the prescribed “fighters” for each team duke it out as proxies

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        • athapap
          January 13, 2012

          agreed – but they should be given credit for having been able to assemble a team with what we all have to agree is a desired characteristic – toughness – without sacrificing anything in the skill department. I can’t think of a team in recent history that has been able to do so to the degree that they have, which is no mean feat considering how desirable players with size, skill AND toughness are.

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        • athapap
          January 13, 2012

          one other point – their forward toughness consists primarily of Thornton, Lucic and Horton – 2 of whom are on their quasi first line. That is highly unusual. The 3rd line is actually all dancers – Peverley, Kelly and Pouliot. It is the presence of Chara and that first line toughness that truly differentiates them from anyone else.

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          • John Andress
            January 14, 2012

            We all agree, as you say, that “toughness” is a desired, indeed, necessary characteristic for success in hockey both at the individual and the team level. What some of us, perhaps many, hopefully one day most of us, don’t agree with is that “toughness” means punching people in the head with bare fists and resolving hockey issues with intimidation, violence and brute force rather than through hockey skills. If the old school hockey watcher believes that the Sedins, for eample, are not tough because they don’t engage in bare knuckle fighting, they just aren’t watching. Night after night the Sedins compete for the puck in the corners and behind the net absorbing bone jarring hits (mostly legitimate hits), slashes, cross-checks and punches responding by displaying hockey skills and scoring goals. The Sedins and their ilk are the true tough guys of the NHL, not the MMA fighters on skates. Who needs it? I don’t and hockey doesn’t.

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    • stathead
      January 14, 2012

      What if the refs called penalties on all the slashes, and players were expected to just keep their heads up and play through trash talk? No need for fighting.

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  11. Paul H.
    January 13, 2012

    As a another Mennonite boy from Greendale, I have found myself battling with similar tensions to Daniel from PITB. I literally felt sick with the officiating and the tangible injustice so concretely observed in last spring’s Boston series. For the first time I felt at a loss to explain my affinity for Canada’s game to my 7 year old. I struggled to come to terms with the anger I felt, part of me wanting to buy into Boston’s methods so as to somehow achieve justice. Justice vs. Revenge? (Interesting observation, Raffi) The glorification of “old time” hockey or hockey played ‘”he right way” or by the “code” that was manifested within the TV media left me convinced that we are truly a twisted society. Raffi’s point is so important: which other major sport changes the rulebook and creates open season on their stars in the playoffs?? Why are the Sedin, two of the most stand-up guys around, placed in the the “no-win” circumstance again and again – weak when they don’t retaliate, stupid when they do? I remain frustrated… and somewhat jaded with the NHL’s apparant pendulum swing back to 1970′s Philadelphia Flyers- hardly progressive…

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    • athapap
      January 13, 2012

      You can call it tangible and concrete but that doesn’t make it so. Hockey is a sport that involves levels of speed and physical contact unlike any other. The degree of subjectivity involved in determining whether a given act constitutes an infraction is extremely high at the best of times. “Obvious” calls are obvious, but “borderline” calls are just that – some officials might call them on a given night while others might let them go. Of course the fans of the losing team will hang their hat on those “missed” calls, while the fans of the winning team forgets about them as soon as the buzzer sounds. When the intensity level is cranked up to the maximum the blurry line of infraction is certainly approached (and “maybe” crossed) with greater regularity. You speak as if the determination of an infraction is a question of absolute black and white fact as opposed to of informed opinion and circumstance. The fans of the losing team – if the outcome is at all close – will uniformly point to officiating as a or in this case “the” cause of the defeat. That fact will never change – regardless of who the winner or loser is.

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      • stathead
        January 14, 2012

        The fact remains they often let blatant fouls go uncalled. Look at the penalty on Raymond at the beginning of game 6 of the finals – in normal life, if you break the back of another human being, you’d be pretty lucky to get off with a two minute penalty, which in fact was not given by the official who saw the whole thing because it’s the playoffs and we play rough. Raffi has a point: why are we holding this up to our kids as glory, when it could be so much greater?

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        • athapap
          January 14, 2012

          not the best example considering the infraction itself was a debateable penalty and nobody at the time thought Raymond was seriously hurt – foremost the Canucks training staff.

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      • kim
        January 16, 2012

        This isn’t meant to be an insult to you, but that’s a cop out. That’s been the excuse given to ignore incompetence and inability to keep up.

        There is a rule book. Use it. Players are not idiots. If they consistently see the rules being called then they’ll figure it out. Sometimes things get missed – the refs are human and no one is arguing about the odd missed call. However, there’s consistent blind disregard for “the rules” depending on at what point of the game it is, when in the season, who does it, who it’s against, etc, etc, all subjective things that shouldn’t be taken into account.

        Commit an infraction, get the appropriate penalty. It’s not rocket science so I’m not sure why it’s treated as such.

        It’s hard to find another industry as pro hockey where such a level of incompetence is glorified and excused.

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        • kim
          January 16, 2012

          Also realized that I could don my tinfoil hat and say that on the other hand The Powers That Be use the rule book as a means to get the outcomes they may want. YMMV on that one though. ;)

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        • athapap
          January 17, 2012

          no insult taken – if you were able to interview the officials on the ice after each game and ask them what they were thinking on each controvbersial call I think you’d be more inclined to appreciate how much subjectivity there is in determining whether a “borderline ” call is an infraction or not

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  12. Bea
    January 13, 2012

    This really put me in a different way of thinking about things. Maybe the NHL might learn something from this as well.

    Great interview.

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  13. SteveB
    January 13, 2012

    PITB is the only hockey blog that I consistently feel better after reading it.
    The inane prattle from the TEAM 1040, CDC, Yahoo sports blogs and Don Cherry make me feel dumber every time I hear or read them.
    Thank you for making my world a better place.

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  14. Hips
    January 13, 2012

    I dunno man. I like fighting in hockey, and although I do understand most of Raffi’s reasoning for his argument, the “this influences kids in a negative way one” always seems to grind my gears. Frick man, everything influences kids in a negative way. The internet, music, society, all of it. At some point you’ve gotta give up your “ohmigawd my kid might become a serial killer because I let him play GTA” stance and just accept that societies trending and evolving and there’s nothing any of us can do with it.
    But yeah, Raffi is awesome, he was a huge part of my childhood. But his whole “peace on earth love everybody don’t hate” thing is completely unreasonable.

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    • Eric B
      January 14, 2012

      I agree. Raffi is awesome and his main audience is children which is why his music is rated “G” as it should be. My only issue is he is hoping that his “G” rating will also be applied to a game that was never intended to be rated ‘G”. It’s a game played by men, and today those same men are exceptional athletes which has made the game faster and more physical. As a result, it is obvious some of these men are at a disadvantage and resort to cheap shot antics (every team does it) and thus are forced to answer for themselves. Because as others have mentioned) Boston has a lineup of talented players that are also very tough AND play as a team (stand up for each other) they are often painted as villains by Vancouver because they were beat so handily by a style unlike their own.

      As much as I also like Raffi, he needs to understand that in his world, a “G” rating is acceptable by his fans. Not in the NHL, however.

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  15. cathylu
    January 13, 2012

    Thanks for a very interesting interview with Raffi. I didn’t know much about his personal story; I just know I’ve listened to his music for hundreds of hours when my kids were little. His opinions about fighting in hockey have given me food for thought. I admit I enjoy a good hockey fight but I do always worry about a needless injury occurring because of a fight. Even though I’m a relatively new hockey fan I do understand that most people feel that fighting is an integral part of the game, for better or for worse.

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  16. tj
    January 13, 2012

    His comment about how a fight continues to leave an effect on individuals afterword–families, etc–is something people often forget. The game is being sold–esp by Bettman of late–as a ‘microcosm of real life’, so to think of it as some sort of fantasy fulfillment is wrong-headed. There’s video games for that (although, I wonder how Raffi feels about their influence on kids…). I generally dislike fighting in hockey, but even I found myself getting violence and angry in ways I’d never experienced during the SCF and Saturday’s game. It’s not behaviour I like in myself. It’s certainly not behaviour I want my godson to use (he’s a very lively 5, and his aggressive tendencies are already showing). While I am not really much of an advocate for the idea to change a sport ‘for the kids’, I do think that someone like Grapes should lay off that crap. A change should come as a reflection of a society that has begun to change its values. That it doesn’t change, and that we continue to make excuses for it, says a lot more about our society than many are willing to accept.

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  17. Pukeko
    January 13, 2012

    Hey PITB.

    Great blog; most certainly worth a daily read. I also enjoy reading below the original text to see the largely erudite comments left by other readers, so again my congrats on humorous, thought (and ire) provoking blog.
    I loved Raffi as a kid, and wasn’t shocked to hear that he had creative, well thought out thoughts on our national sport. I don’t agree with him entirely, but certainly some great food for thought there. I do, however, agree with a previous commenter that the speed of hockey and the interpretive aspects of refereeing make enforcing to the letter of the rulebook each and every game near impossible. That said, the idea of longitudinal consistency in the spirit of the rules from regular to post season is a concept that I find attractive. The GM’s, the coaches, and most of all the players are good enough to to evolve with the league season to season as evidenced by the recent hooking/holding/obstruction changes. Some may argue that the playoffs have always been referred differently, and in that sense it is a predictable evolution- and for them I have no rebuttal either than “yeah, but…”. I’m just saying it’d be interesting to see! If you’re going to put away the whistle- start in October. For full disclosure 1) I’m a life-long Canucks fan and 2) I do also grudgingly admit that the better team won last June.
    Please do keep up the good work.

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    • tom selleck's moustache
      January 14, 2012

      “That said, the idea of longitudinal consistency in the spirit of the rules from regular to post season is a concept that I find attractive.”

      That’s exactly it, the spirit of at least trying to be consistent. Nobody’s pretending that missed calls or inconsistent ones will be eliminated completely; that’s just the nature of sport. But it’s the deliberate intention to call a game differently, not only in the same season but in the same game, that just makes no sense when one stops to think about it.

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  18. Tom
    January 13, 2012

    When guys fight, I change the channel or turn off the radio for 3 or 4 minutes.

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  19. Tim
    January 13, 2012

    Fantastic interview! Well done. Raffi as Commish and a 10th rounder for Bettman’s retirement and a bag of stinky pucks!

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  20. gumby
    January 14, 2012

    I hope this issue continues to have traction and gets some attention from the league. I’ve been having this conversation with a number of friends and colleagues in the past little while, some of whom are fans of other teams (so it’s not just homerism). There seems to be a consensus that the inconsistency in officiating is absurd. Imagine football if in the Grey Cup they decided to go easy on pass interference, or if in baseball the batter got a fourth strike during the World Series? It makes no sense.

    For me it’s not just the fighting, it’s the rough play that doesn’t get called that is the problem. It leads to the bad blood that we are seeing now between these two teams. It’s also ugly, boring hockey. The stuff I hate is the endless grappling and shoving that goes on after the whistle. If the play’s dead, the play’s dead. That means stop, not shove your glove in another guy’s face. It slows the game down and ratchets up the nastiness.

    To my mind, there should be WAY more unsportsmanlike and roughing calls. Snow shower a goalie? 2 minutes, unsportsmanlike. Give a forward a chop after the whistle? 2 minutes roughing. Keep jamming at the goalie after the whistle? 2 minutes. Two players hollering at eachother at the bench? 2 minutes unsportsmanlike. Fighting? 5 minutes and automatic ejection. Let them go once, but then get the goons out. Get more that 3 minors, get a bonus 2 minute minor, or automatic game ejection. Just make the b*llsh*t riskier and costlier and the game will adjust.

    I hope there is an appetite with the league to look at having the game evolve into something better than what it is now. Perhaps the rebranding of “discipline” as “player safety” is the start of that process.

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    • gumby
      January 14, 2012

      Plus a shout out to Raffi. We love you in our house, man. My kids are teens, but we still put your Christmas album on at Christmas time. There just something sweet and authentic about it that hits the right spot.

      Keep up the work on this most awesome of games, too.

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  21. URLA
    January 14, 2012

    Thank you for standing up against hockey violence! As a grandmother of boys starting to play hockey and a great aunt of two NHL players I am also against violence in the modern hockey game. I do not understand those who enjoy extreme fighting rather than skill in the sport of hockey. I still admire you RAFFI, my children have loved you and all the little children in Africa loved you years ago, when I was there teaching your songs. Remember the Tree House on Saltspring ?. I support your cause of ‘ CHILD HONORING’.

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  22. unplugged_boy
    January 18, 2012

    wow. mature, insightful and open minded discussion by commentors on a hockeyblog in a respectful manner? i must be spending too much time on CDC and hockeybuzz…

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