Canucks replace Superman shirt with Haida hat for player-of-the-game award

Some NHL teams give out a player-of-the-game award at the end of every game, either to a player who had a big offensive game or worked particularly hard. During HBO’s 24/7, it was revealed that the Capitals handed out a hard hat, while the Penguins opted for a shovel. During the 2010-11 season, the Bruins passed around a vintage Bruins starter jacket.

The Blackhawks have used a WWE belt, the Rangers a fedora, and the Predators a fireman hat. But, as far as we know, the Canucks have never had a similar award, at least until this season.

Early in the season, we saw various Canucks wearing a Superman t-shirt and an Under Armour head band in a post-game interview, but it appears that they may have landed on a different, more west coast, award.

Chris Higgins, Ryan Kesler, Roberto Luongo, and Zack Kassian have all been spotted wearing the Superman shirt and head band, but it hasn’t been seen since the end of October.

@AlisaJ4

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The Superman shirt as an award isn’t a bad choice. Heck, Kesler and Kevin Bieksa even have a bit of a connection to Superman, with Kesler sporting a Superman tattoo, with the “S” replaced by a “K”, while Bieksa gained some notoriety for using a Superman punch in a fight with Mike Richards back in 2009.

Of course, it’s more likely that they went with a Superman shirt as it was easy to find on a store rack with Man of Steel coming out this past summer rather than because of any special connection with Superman some of the Canucks might have. What the headband has to do with anything is anyone’s guess.

As mentioned, we haven’t seen the shirt or head band recently, but we did see a different item after the Canucks game against the Columbus Blue Jackets on Friday.

Jeremy Welsh was an accomplished goal scorer in the NCAA, scoring 53 goals in 119 games with the Union College Dutchmen, but it took him a while to score his first NHL goal. It finally came late against the Blue Jackets, when the 25-year-old winger tipped a Ryan Stanton point shot past Sergei Bobrovsky in his 20th NHL game, meaning his first NHL goal came against a Vezina-winning goaltender — not too shabby.

After the game, Welsh was sporting some fancy new headgear during his post-game interviews with Dan Murphy and the rest of the media:

That’s awesome. As Welsh explains, the Canucks picked up the hat when they visited the Haida Gwaii (aka. the Queen Charlotte Islands) in September. The traditional handwoven and handpainted hat carries more meaning than a store-bought t-shirt and gives the team a connection to the Haida people, whose art and culture bear so much importance to the Pacific Northwest.

Using a Haida hat to honour the player of the game is also meant to show respect to the First Nations people, as explained by the Canucks public relations department.

It’s a nice touch, making the award a unique and meaningful gesture connected to the history of British Columbia and to Canucks fans throughout the province. It’s also worlds better than a t-shirt and head band.

Also, congratulations to Jeremy Welsh for being the first recipient of the hat. He’s been surprisingly good so far this season — he’s the only 4th liner on the team with a positive Fenwick and has won 52.4% of his faceoffs — and it’s nice to see him get rewarded for his efforts. It’s particularly nice since the Carolina Hurricanes are still paying $340,000 of his cap hit, so he’s actually taking up less than the league minimum salary from the Canucks’ salary cap.

Welsh is looking good so far and he’s looking even better in a Haida hat.

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27 comments

  1. Chris the Curmudgeon
    November 23, 2013

    I like this on so many levels. I’d hazard that we haven’t seen it before now because no team wants to send players to a post-game interview wearing congratulatory head-wear after a heart-wrenching loss.

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    • Mariah Charleson
      November 23, 2013

      I love how the Canucks have incorporated a huge part of their fan base. I am Hesquiaht, First Nations as well, and am sooooooo proud of the Canucks for doing this! I used to watch every single game with my DAD when I was a kid and stopped just cause of other things but now I will watch as much CANUCKS as I can this year….This is soo positive and hope the teachings about cedar have also been taught to the players when they win the award…all positive, all awesome..

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  2. Ratatat
    November 23, 2013

    This is a very cool move by the players. First nations culture rings very deeply for me having lived my whole life in B.C. (I’m not myself). That it is not so random or an inside joke means more. When we show respect to our First Nations brothers and sisters all of us are made a little better. Respect and actual connection to the place is being communicated by this. I hope that the players keep this tradition, and, who knows, maybe it brings a little good spirit into the room and something to rally around. The Red Sox beards this year were not about beards, it was bigger then that – and having athletes value this when they represent a place is of great value. IMO.

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  3. Naturalmystic
    November 23, 2013

    If the Vancouver team was located in South Dakota would it be okay for their players to be awarded a Sioux feather headdress as player of the game? Stick to Superman t-shirts. That’s just my opinion, flame away.

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    • Daniel Wagner
      November 23, 2013

      Haida hats were sold or traded by the Haida people to European and American travellers and settlers back in the 19th century. They don’t carry the same importance or meaning as a feather headdress and it’s not disrespectful for the Canucks to wear a Haida hat, as it would be to wear a feather headdress. Haida weavers still make hats to sell and they don’t have the same symbolic weight as a headdress. Completely different.

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      • Bobby
        November 23, 2013

        Clearly you don’t know my Haida culture very well .

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        • Daniel Wagner
          November 23, 2013

          I’m not super-familiar with the Haida culture, only really knowing what I’ve read, but I don’t think anything I’ve said here is inaccurate. I haven’t seen anything that indicates that Haida hats carry the same or similar meaning to the headdresses worn by other nations. Everything I’ve seen suggests that they were frequently traded, both to other tribes and to Europeans and Americans, with nothing indicating that the right to wear the hat had to be earned, either through acts of bravery or other means.

          If I’m mistaken on any of this, I’d love to know what, specifically, I’m wrong about.

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    • Chris the Curmudgeon
      November 23, 2013

      Of all the pro sports teams that use aboriginal/American Indian imagery in their logo or nickname, the Canucks are one of very few that use them in a respectful way without being belittling or derogatory. Unlike the Indians’ “Chief Wahoo” or the Braves’ tomahawk chop or the name “Redskins”, the Canucks orca logo is an homage to west coast art, and a previous intro theme (the “flute intro”) was written by a local First Nations artist too. Similarly, this isn’t a garish, cartoony or denigrating item, it’s a legitimate piece of art the players acquired during a team trip, and by using it as a positive symbol it comes across as respectful and deferential. Unfortunately, NM, I think your well-documented hatred of the team makes you unable to consider this objectively.

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      • peanutflower
        November 23, 2013

        that was the best intro ever. i miss that.

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    • PB
      November 23, 2013

      That’s a pretty irrelevant and pointless comment even for a troll. This is obviously not exploitive and offensive a la Redskins or Chief Wahoo and as the story clearly suggests has a connection to the players trip to Haida Gwaii. Perhaps you see all First Nations art or culture — which is not exactly rare on the west coast and in similar forms only as appropriations and exploitation? Lame comment, even for you. Try again

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    • RG
      November 23, 2013

      Why wouldn’t it be okay to wear a Sioux feather headdress as player of the game?

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      • Daniel Wagner
        November 23, 2013

        It’s akin to wearing a military medal that you haven’t earned: http://apihtawikosisan.com/hall-of-shame/an-open-letter-to-non-natives-in-headdresses/

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      • Paul S.
        November 24, 2013

        Not only is it akin to wearing a military medal that you didn’t earn which would be shameful, but it also directly denigrates the Sioux culture by trivializing something that they hold in very high regard. Moreover, if the player who were to wear it were to be of a culture of privilege, relative to the Sioux, (ie if the player was White), it would be highly offensive. This is because that player’s culture is one which continues to suppress the Sioux and by wearing an important trapping of their culture – one that signifies seniority and experience – it effectively acts to further subjugate the Sioux people….. like for real… it’s offensive… like it actually hurts peoples’ sense of dignity, worth and self.

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    • Doop
      November 23, 2013

      Consider the context of the places, though. The problem people have with mascotization and misappropriation of cultural items is that it inappropriately perpetuates cultural subjugation and dehumanizes real people. Although this handsome hat is a cultural item, in this case it doesn’t symbolize any nondescript corruption of a culture or devalue a culture for the sake of a hockey game–it’s more indicative of how cultures can be affirmed and honored through the acknowledgement and validation of other cultures that they interact with, and also happens to be a nice memory that the players shared earlier in the year. It’s a nice thing and it makes me feel warm and fuzzy.

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    • Beth
      November 25, 2013

      A “Sioux” feathered headdress is considered a very sacred item and was only worn by certain highly spiritual people in that particular tribe and would be an insult for just *anyone* to wear one. A Haida hand-made hat is a totally different kettle of fish, as it is not considered to be on the same level of spiritual significance as a war-bonnet or “headdress” to the First Nations down south as to terms of who can wear this item. You cannot compare a hat to a war-headdress/bonnet Haida nations people trade their artwork openly as well as make hats for people interested in the Ancient art of cedar weaving.

      ** Not all Native Nations have the same belief system or the same trading system, when it comes to artwork and items. I have seen many Haida and coastal native made art and hats being sold (mainly by Haida tribe members) as long as it supports their community and their skill it should be encouraged and be positive. **

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  4. smj
    November 23, 2013

    very cool indeed.
    regarding the canucks being the only team that uses the first nations art and symbolism respectfully, I would say that some of the artwork in the coyotes’ jersey incorporates some aboriginal art (navajo?) in a non derogatory way….but I may be totally wrong on that.

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    • Chris the Curmudgeon
      November 23, 2013

      That’d be the old Coyotes jersey and I think it’s Hopi not Navajo, but I would agree. I didn’t say they were the only, I said they were one of very few. The Florida State Seminoles college mascot is another example, in that they sought and received approval from the Seminole tribe (there are other examples of this as well). A number of other teams have removed native American imagery too (eg: KC Chiefs, though they still use the name, they don’t use the old mascot anymore). I’d argue that the Canucks are one of the best though, in that they don’t use any form of war imagery, so they don’t reinforce stereotypes about native peoples being aggressive and violent.

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  5. tj
    November 23, 2013

    When I saw this last night, I had hoped it was meant to be a respectful nod to west coast heritage, and I am pleased to learn it is. Thank you for doing the research. It warms my heart knowing that this professional sport team is so thoughtful.

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  6. Shirley Poulsen
    November 23, 2013

    Thank you for using the Haida Hat,and I will teach him how to Haida dance and or make him a dance tunic.
    This looks like a Christen Carty or Marlene Liddle Haida Hat.

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  7. Stiles
    November 24, 2013

    Awesome!!!!

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  8. Curious George
    November 24, 2013

    Personally, I can see both sides of this issue. I lived in Alert Bay for a couple years and I found that the people I talked to there were very divided regarding the current Canucks logo so I can understand if some people dislike further use of native art/culture by this professional sports franchise. I don’t have a problem with it, I think it shows a connection to the westcoast.

    Also, I would love for someone to explain to me what the issues are surrounding the use of native art for the Vancouver Canucks Orca logo. As I understand it, that style of drawing an orca (the Canucks logo style) is actually owned by a native family and this is possibly problematic because they were never consulted about the use of this artistic style for a Canucks logo and then they were never reimbursed when it was used… has anyone else heard this or something along those lines?

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  9. Ryan
    November 24, 2013

    The “as explained by the Canucks public relations department” link seems to be incorrect… do you have the real link? I’d be interested to read it.

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    • Neil B
      November 25, 2013

      Hey Ryan. Either they fixed the link, or you missed the comment because it’s buried deep in the body of the article. Either way, it’s there now.

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      • Ryan
        November 25, 2013

        Oh, this little bit down in the 23rd paragraph of a game review? “Welsh wore a traditional Haida Gwaii hat, which will be given to a select Vancouver player after a win as a sign of respect to the First Nation people, who hosted the Canucks this summer prior to the start of the season, a member of the club’s public relations department said.”

        I don’t see how that “explain[s]” anything… I’d love to see an official statement from the Canucks about how this is “meant to show respect to the First Nations people.” Is the actual quote from the PR Dep’t on record somewhere?

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  10. snepsts
    November 25, 2013

    this is only really offensive if it were an actual artefact, i.e. an item appropriated that had religious, traditional or historic significance. It isn’t really appropriate, insofar as it is being used whimsically and in a sort of silly way. If I were native I would definitely not appreciate the use of native art or cultural tokens by large, athletic white men for the purpose of…silly macho peer appreciation/appropriation, but it doesn’t fall anywhere into

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  11. Steven Bright
    December 6, 2013

    I think it’s great that the Canucks are incorporating the First Nations culture, they have many first nations fans, I know majority of the Nass River people are fans of the Canucks.

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