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Special to Hockeybuzz: “Hockey is for EVERYONE.”

January 19, 2023, 3:51 PM ET [12 Comments]
Scoop Cooper
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Ek’s Note>. Bruce “Scoop” Cooper is one of the few hockey people who is still around who has been involved with the Flyers since the team’s inception in 1967. Many current statesmen in the NHL have figuratively slept on this man’s couch. Doc Emrick once told me his respect for Scoop as a person, and his knowledge of the players, stats and hockey history are beyond compare. Scoop is a treasure. He is always the person I look to when it comes for some perspective with the Flyers. He knew EVERY player, coach, GM and of course the great Flyers founder Ed Snider…. That is why I asked Scoop if I could post this article here after I saw it on his Facebook page. There are many opinions regarding what happened with Provorov, all are welcomed, but please read with an open mind and make up your own mind. Scoop’s Opinions are his own and his right to speak them. In the comments I don’t expect agreement, but I do require respect in the conversation

By Bruce “Scoop” Cooper.

Any player who had done this when Ed Snider was still alive and running the show would have been traded just like Jeff Carter and Mike Richards were in 2011 for similar disloyalty to the organization’s community commitments. The coach showed no leadership as well — he should have either scratched this player from the game or kept him glued to the bench for the night with zero TOI.

Tortorella’s post game cop-out explanation for not doing so rings hollow. There is no “I” in team, and this has nothing whatever to do with “religion” but with “humanity”. There is also a HUGE difference in the motivation behind kneeling during the Anthem which players did to stand UP for human rights, and the actions of this player which did the opposite. At a minimum if a player refuses to participate in the warm-up — no matter WHAT the reason — he does not play in the game and is docked his salary for the night.

Employees are representatives of the organizations that employ them — especially public entertainment and high profile community leadership ones like professional sports teams. Of course he is not civilly or criminally legally obligated to wear the warmup jersey and has a First Amendment right not to do so which as a fervent Constitutionalist I unreservedly support. But that does not include a “right” to embarrass and not continue to support and to work to support the organization that pays him literally tens of millions of Dollars for his professional services.

This obligation on the part of EVERY player is actually included in §2(d) of the NHL Standard Player’s Contract agreed to in the current CBA with the NHLPA which states he agrees “to co-operate with the Club and participate in ANY and ALL reasonable promotional activities of the Club which will in the opinion of the Club promote the welfare of the Club and to cooperate in the promotion of the League and professional hockey generally”. The League-wide annual “Pride Night” program in which all 32 teams participate as a part of the NHL’s “Hockey is for Everyone” commitment is exactly such a contractually obligated activity for this and every other NHL player.
Regrettably the corporate owned Flyers failed this test miserably and completely defeated the purpose of the whole “Pride Night” community outreach.

And let us not forget that the Flyers “disappeared” their decades long good luck icon Kate Smith for a song she had sung in the 1930s which contained a single word that at a time was not generally considered “disrespectful” in the context she used it, but are willing to let a player the club currently employs to “skate” without any consequences in 2023 for doing something cultually demeaning in Western society today.

Interestingly when the Flyers summarily removed the Kate Smith statue in April, 2019, the organization issued a statement which declared as the reason that "The NHL principle 'Hockey is for Everyone' is at the heart of everything the Flyers stand for. As a result, we cannot stand idle while material from another era gets in the way of who we are today." This stated “principle” was pretty much ignored Tuesday night.

It is 2023, not 1600. And this is the United States — “the land of the free and the home of the brave”, not Russia — the heartless war crime oppressor of Ukraine as well as of its own people.

[NOTE: All comments are welcome but please keep them respectful and civil no matter what your views as this is a serious topic relating to fundamental human rights.]
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