You may have read Jim before. He’s had it up to here with shootouts. He comments regularly on the state of the game and how it could be fixed. And beginning now, in three installments, he sets his sights on possibly the only person more opinionated than himself, Don Cherry.
I: POOFING DON
Should Don retire? Two ways to reply to this question are: first, respond directly to it as if it raised a legitimate topic for discussion; second, examine it’s provenance, question the question, as it were – why has the question even been posed and who posed it? My position here is clear and unequivocal – of the two, the second approach is the best one because it is the one that impels us to think about Don in an effort to understand the truly interesting question, `Why Don?’.
Should Don retire? From what? He can’t retire from himself. He can’t retire from hockey. He can’t retire from being a public personality because, after all, it’s The Media, in all its magisterial might, and not Don who decides what is newsworthy and what is not. Whether or not Don is deemed so a la Paris Hilton or otherwise is, perhaps, moot, however the indubitable fact is that The Media has ordained that Don is NEWS and it is from this fount that all things Donian flow including this question. Thus, the question is bogus, the appropriate question might be, `Should The Media retire Don?’ If the answer is yes, then I suppose they could start by retiring Coach’s Corner and go from there, stop flashing his mugg at us, passing on his opinions, talking about him – censure any mention of him whatsoever in all the mainstream media, in effect, make him go poof! Unfortunately (for the anti-Donians), the dood is incorrigible, he simply won’t keep still and, like the Cheshire Cat in Wonderland, he’ll undoubtedly pop out of the infosphere somewhere/when else. The internet. The local arena. Bobby Orr’s birthday bash. Blue II’s funeral.
And does The Media really want to retire Don? After all, it is plugged into him as much as he into it, eh? As well, The Media insistantly reminds us that it would never ever censure The News! It merely reports it, the facts – that Don is, well, out there is not a fact of their making - and nothing else, that it doesn’t `spin’ possible meanings, that it doesn’t design page-layouts, pick n’ choose and order items in order to favour one interpretation, one position, one set of beliefs over another – after all, it’s not in the propaganda biz, is it? Nevertheless, culpable as The Media is in the creation of Don, it would be remiss to lay the entire blame for him at its doorstep.
Don is not merely a two-dimensional construct of The Media, he is also very much a creation of us, the Canadian Hockey Fan.. Perhaps the ultimate responsibility for retiring Don lies with US. Should WE retire Don? Should WE take undertake a determined pro-active initiative to make Don go poof! WE could do it. WE could band together, kick things off with a country-wide burning of Don – in symbolic effigy form, of course. Make Don’s retirement into a national holiday akin to Guy Fawkes day in England with speeches and beer, fireworks galore and balloons and candy apples and everything else that goes into such an event. I’m sure The Media would luv to help US out. The ratings would be astronomical and the advertising revenue awesome. Imagine, Don would go up in flames on practically every block in Canada as WE unite in our unanimous desire to exorcise Don from OUR collective as-yet-to-be-determined sense of self.
And Don would be more than happy to lend a hand. He could deliver a nationally televised rant on European hockey players, fisticuffs, the instigator rule, no-touch icing, etc etc, after which he could diss Ron, tell him for the umpteenth time that he doesn’t know what he is talking about whereupon Ron, his mug graced with a beatific smile, would, after a good bad pun appropriate to the occasion, set a torch to a giant effigy of Don on Parliament hill then a select posse of sports writers could lead US in consigning his Rock `Em Sock `Em stuff and whatever else they deemed was tainted with the imprint of un-Canadian Donism to the cleansing flames.
Religous /feminists/environmentalists/activists-at-large could denounce Don as a dinosaur, a relic of a by-gone era, and as such an intolerable obstacle on OUR journey to national self-realization and therefore guilty of creating his own reality – it’s clearly his fault that WE are forced to make him go poof.
The politicos could chip in, too. The next morning the Prime Minister could give a speech in which he announces that effective immediately it would be a criminal offence punishable by a fine of no less than $19.37 plus GST and 78 minutes in the corner of the Kindergarten class nearest to the offender to even say Don let alone name your baby after him. In fact, not only the name Don but the very word could be erased from OUR lexicon. No more Don! No more don! And Cherry/cherry, too. Kiss `em goodbye! In less than 24 hours Don would be officially gone – after all, WE Canadians are respectable law-abiding citizens, eh? No longer would he be in OUR collective face and on the tip of OUR tongue and, unlike the Cheshire Cat, his poofing would be terminal leaving US Don-free to continue OUR quest to find ourselves, to create a new vibrant identity that captures and expresses OUR Commitment To Diversity, to being everybody and nobody – a challenge that only a progressive post-post-modern Canada can meet – and become living proof that `It Is All Relative’ as WE lead the way in the forging of a Brave New World, a peaceful haphaphappy world from which all those bestial atavistic urges and surges inherent in Donism have been eradicated
An alluring vision, eh? Alas, like all utopian dreams, it is impractical. Why? I’ll tell you tomorrow.