#111 – The Cult(ure) of Hockey, Special Edition: The Molson Family

And now we reach the last and least of Canada’s hockeyman franchise-owners – the purveyors of all-Canadian piss-water themselves, the god-damn, motherfucking, hop-savaging bastards: ladies and gentlemen, presenting the Molson family!

What a load of jizzum these failures are. They certainly don’t talk much – finding information on these bastards is tough, other than their education records (abroad, because Canadians don’t respect their own degrees) and their donations to Canadian schools (which still suck and which are still not respected by Canadians). Besides giving Canada its worst beer and patenting beer-making techniques such that other, superior brewers couldn’t use them, the Molson family has been highly involved in the successful merging of their company with the American Coors. I am Canadian, indeed.

The Molsons are insufferable and their product is the only Canadian gastronomical experience that I would rate below taking a swig of Tim Hortons Brown Sludge Water™ (which is itself below just going without). Bear in mind that seal heart is a regular consumable in the North – I’d take that long, long, long before a proffered bottle of Molson’s Finest. The company and its piss-swill benefit from archaic laws and absurd pricing schemes incumbent to Canada. For a group of people who pride themselves on their beer, Canadians and their government will apparently drink swill that costs more than Malta’s native brew, Cisk. Unlike Cisk (pronounced “Chisk”), however, the Molson brew comes with needless nationalism and sucks harder than a hooker trying to pull a golf ball through a garden hose. It’s almost like the Maltese were interested in producing a solid brew, where the Molsons were interested in producing a solid tumor of Pavlovian Canadiana in the English-Canadian zeitgeist.

So – Canada’s business family produces a weaker beer with one-hundred times the population to learn from. What else is new, honestly. They advertise their shitty pissbier by linking it to Canadiana – hence, the whole “I am Canadian” thing. These are the worst of the worst in terms of ads, and I’ll almost certainly come back to slam them when I feel like putting myself through the mental bruising that is looking at Molson ads. Canadiana is, of course, linked to hockey. And just like that, a Canadian family provides the weak, shitty glue between two weak, shitty parts of a weak, shitty construct called Canadiana.

Could it be that the Molsons know this incredible secret and rely on it to sell their pissbier? They happen to have scored the right to sell their shitty product at a majority of Canadian major-league hockey arenas, including the turbo-rich Maple Leafs. Surely there’s no cynical exploitation of company-made cardboard-nationalism for the sake of profits, is there? Hockey is so pure and amazing that there’s no way anyone could be using the sport as a springboard to dump their product into the lunk-headed mixture of revisionism and make-believe that is Canada’s hockey zeitgeist! Especially not – gasp – a company stapled to an AMERIKKKAN one!

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#110: The Cult(ure) of Hockey, Special Edition: Eugene Melnyk

Eugene moved to Barbados in 1991. This makes him by default more intelligent than anyone else on this list by virtue of the fact that the guy was smart enough to flee this shit-kakke sundae. His companies include a husk sold to Thomson-Reuters (remember them from the Winnipeg Jets?), a pharmaceutical company that specialized in finding expired patents and recreating drugs at inflated costs, and a collection of derpery that scored his ass a pulse-pounding visit from the Securities and Exchange Commission in the United States. His beloved Senators post next to no profit, and the tickets are dirt-cheap, relatively speaking. The only problem, of course, is that you have to get to the suburban shitstain of an arena first, which is tough without a car and probably harder with one. He also preferred Canadian Tire over Scotiabank as the name of said stadium.

Honestly, being associated with Canadian Tire is usually a bad thing, but there we are. After making a living creating companies and flipping them like he lives on the set of a reality television show, Melnyk presumably is living the life in the Caribbean. He took some time out for important charity, like celebrity jet-wheeling to Kandahar to give Canadian and American troops in Afghanistan hockey equipment. No way hosting a billionaire and dealing with the useless shit he left behind (attention, Canadians: Afghanistan is in a desert. Deserts do not hockey well. See also: Arizona) that caused any operational difficulties, no sir.

It sort of seems to me that this guy is just an impossibly-rich dude with no idea as to what to do with his money. Playing out his hobbies on a grand scale and getting rewards for it seems like an okay way to spend your time, so long as you actually provide something to your home base. Interestingly enough, Melnyk’s charities don’t seem to extend to Barbados. Is it because Barbados can’t hockey either and without hockey or Ukrainian churches to fund the guy can’t figure out how to provide charity? Who knows, really. Of all of the people here, Eugene is the only one that seems to own a team because he wants to rather than because it makes him a lot of money.

Of course, he also got that way with pharmaceuticals – we’ve covered how badly Canada does those – so the money he has may have come from Canada’s inability to provide drugs at reasonable costs like literally any other country with a public healthcare system on earth rather than actually providing anything to the world. Except hockey equipment – he hands that shit out like candy.

Hope it isn’t that CCM shit, lest it collapse and cause injuries. If Eugene is in painkillers the guy’s got a solidly evil racket going!

#109 – The Cult(ure) of Hockey, Special Edition: Calgary Sports and Entertainment

N. Murray Edwards, the guy who owns this caustic fart of a company, is probably the single person with the most to lose in the tar sands. He’s also the guy behind the company behind the Lake Polley Whoopsiedoodle that we talked about earlier. Meaning, of course, that he has spent hundreds of thousands on the B.C. Liberal Party.

Well, that about does it for this one, folks.

…What, you want an honest recount? Alright, fine. To be honest, the spiteful, hate-filled part of me loves this guy because of how much he slams the fauxgressive nu-left Canadiana bullshit into the dirt. Does he own polluting businesses and lobby for royalties that ensure Alberta can’t afford anything? Check! Do his companies produce weapons and luxury goods for the ultra-rich? Ding! Evil mining company in his back pocket? You betcha! Shady politics? Ka-fucking-ching. Yee-haw, motherfuckers! This guy even owns the Saddledome; the sat-on shape of that building is a perfect metaphor for what hockey does to Canadian thinking. The nu-left can practically smell the brimstone off the guy’s shoes, he checks off so many of the “evil corporate boss-man” boxes.

The rest of me, however, knows this guy and his gig from the get-go. Huge block parties, running a bloody restaurant, pressuring the police to let up on noise complaints around the Red Mile (trust me – although it looks like we’ve gone to Mother Russia, Calgary is still very much in Other Russia – i.e.: Canada), and generally encouraging partying in the name of hockey and therefore profits is not the best idea in the world. Given how Edmonton erupted into riots, perhaps Calgary should be more careful about the whole deal, given that fights are common on the Red Mile during the playoffs.

And that’s really where I drive this spike home. The Flames seek to enact the very worst parts of Canadian hockey culture – the mash of people excited over nothing, the idea that you can’t possibly not want to join the sweaty pile of stupid, the linkage between that excitement and profits going straight into the hands of a person who, like Tanenbaum, may not be playing political snooker with your best interests at heart. Informed decision-making is not in the approved lingo of swarms of inebriated hockey fans, meaning that the guy behind the party is totally ignored. So you’ve got an idle, meaningless crush of people collected to effectively brainwash the brand into. This is no different than Frosh Week except the likelihood that you’re going to be getting any action is way lower.

To show how powerful this idiocy is, the Canadian embassy in Washington flew a Flames flag during the finals that they attended in 2004. How absurd is that? Real, actual, important business gets done there and the best you can think to do with it is to use it as ad space for the Whoo-Whoo Party Express? I honestly can’t tell if Murray Edwards is a genius or an idiot, but he’s good at demonstrating how much the latter English Canadians are.

#108 – The Cult(ure) of Hockey, Special Edition: Canucks Sports & Entertainment

Oh look! The owner of the Canucks is something called the “Aquilini Investment Group”. The Aquilini Investment Group is a huge family business headed by Francesco with interests in a whole host of things. Most recently, Canucks Sports & Entertainment has been trying to bring a basketball team back to Vancouver, because the last time that was tried it worked so well that the Grizzlies moved to Memphis. The Canucks are the fifth-priciest team in the league, valued at $800 million. Even more exciting is the fact that the Aquilinis are heavily invested in Vancouver’s unfailing condo market, because why not, right?

When the family isn’t busy financing the never-ending cycle of money laundering encouraged by meaningless and contextless development, the company is hard at work sitting on useless hotels throughout the country and otherwise absorbing money in hopes of following patriarch Luigi Aquilini’s immortal advice: “you aren’t making money unless you’re buying”. Of course, Luigi may have wanted to add “and building useful, long-term investments”, given that his son’s love of condos has punched the group straight into uh-oh country. But he didn’t, so we’re here.

Mr. Aquilini also went after two newspapers for the hideous claim that Aquilini hired a coach. The family went so far as to threaten to sue the paper for defamation. The family also hates disclosing their income or indeed anything about themselves. Francesco won’t even share his birthday, meaning that we don’t quite know how old the guy is. They also didn’t like the idea of providing information about a golf course that they wanted to build in Squamish, BC; apparently, unlike the folks behind the Lake Polley disaster, the Aquilinis didn’t donate enough to the Liberals to get “super-immunity from stupidity” powers from Victoria and the idea was denied because of a lack of information.

Shadowy families controlling hockey clubs isn’t that exciting, really. Nor is the fact that they’re throwing their hockey-money at condos that won’t take off. Even being secretive isn’t the worst idea on the planet, really. But their behavior, including sending a vicious attack lawyer to try to distance the family from the team hiring a coach, demonstrates a reality that the fans of the NHL simply don’t grasp; namely that the whole concept of the Canucks, as with any franchise, is to make money, not to win things. Whether they do well or not is a matter of profits to the Aquilinis and should be regarded as being about that significant to the average Canadian. But that doesn’t fit the Grit and Heart narrative, so the whole “profit” thing for the actual owner gets ignored.

The Canucks have still never won the Stanley Cup, and they play at a teleco-sponsored rink. Seriously – what the fuck is it with Canada and having useless, spiteful, spineless, impossibly-shitty businesses both behind their beloved hockey teams and on top of their beloved hockey arenas?

#107 – The Cult(ure) of Hockey, Special Edition: The Katz Group of Companies

Next up, a Canadian family business!

Let’s back up. The Edmonton Oilers are owned by Rexall Sports, which is itself a part of the Katz Group of Companies. This explains why the Oilers play in Rexall Place rather than, say, Sloppy Gooey Sandshit Place. The Oilers are at least well-connected to the morphine, given that the Oilers have lost more games than they have won for the last five seasons in a row. But that’s okay because they once had THE GREAT ONE, He who can only be spoken of in hushed whispers, He who knows all from wine to politics. That’s right – His Gretzkyness himself once played here.

How much does CEO Daryl Katz love hockey? Well, he once bought the multi-million dollar house next door to his own so as to demolish it and build a practice hockey rink for his children. This is akin to Will Smith’s After Earth – you cannot simply fund your children into attaining your dreams for you. But he needs your help, Edmonton! He has a glorious vision of condos and entertainment in the legendarily buzzing Edmonton. All it will cost to make his dreams come true is the sale of your downtown space to a private interest and blind faith in a design scheme that places housing right next to a sports stadium. Because really – who likes sleep anyways? Why sleep when you can drink with your buddies whooo!!!

Amateur hour is okay for some things, but designing a downtown core is probably not one of those things. Even though Edmonton is a blighted concrete eyesore like the rest of Canada’s major cities, contextless development is rarely a good idea. Remember urban renewal and how well that turned out? Now put that in the hands of an English-Canadian businessman who is impulsive enough to demolish a neighbor’s house for the sake of hockey. That will never end badly! But Katz can’t do it alone – like I said, he needs your money to make his fantasy come true.

This is probably a bit dangerous, isn’t it? Letting the thought of a hockey team deflect what is in reality an incredibly rich man playing LEGO with real building and asking for your money and permission to do it is a profoundly dangerous thing to do, especially when a first-blush look at the design shows a major potential flaw for the poor suckers living there. The intersection between Canadian business culture, hockey, and urban space is not a thing I want to see.

#106 – The Cult(ure) of Hockey, Special Edition: True North Sports and Entertainment

English Canada’s youngest hockeymans contractor team is the Winnipeg Jets. You know that we’re going to have fun with this because it’s owned by something called True North Sports & Entertainment, which is in turn owned by two holding companies. But these guys are special because one of the holding companies is owned by a Baron from the Thomson family. Of course, the Jets’ owners are as useless as the city the team hails from. But that’s besides the point, really – we’re here to talk about the owners, not the city.

So, True North Gag Reflex Activated is owned by the Third Baron of Whogivesafuck and a used car magnate’s son. The company owns nothing else, at least, so when the two holding companies cack up due to uselessness at least the Jets are the only thing to get hurt. The Jets have almost doubled in value since returning to Canada from Atlanta, a storied city whose humidity, heat, and lack of winters are all obviously good indicators that the place is perfect for hockey. Considering how poor the city is and the massive systemic problems of the city, the obvious next step is sports! Transit, dealing with endemic racism, mismanagement and homelessness are the faults of the poor and disadvantaged and are in no way the responsibility of people with means. Making a city better is not nearly as important as making a city more Hockey.

Which is what I find so incredible about the Jets. Manitoba’s economy is largely agricultural, with poverty and gang violence being endemic to the city of Winnipeg itself. Clearly what the city needs to deal with this problem is a luxury good buttressed on the wealth of Canadian families and holding companies! The studio itself is named for Manitoba’s largest telecom company, an abomination called MTS whose legendary disorganization and gouging started right after it was privitized. What a shock – a Canadian company acting like a lamprey after being set loose to Canadian businessowners? How can this be?

Meanwhile, useless Canadiana ensures that Canada thinks the Jets are a positive for their failing province. Forget Manitoba’s real, pressing problems. Who needs to worry about those at a national level when the contract hockeymans are there and the holding companies behind the holding company in alliance with the useless telecom company are getting rich off of meaningless Canadiana? Gangs? Just add hockey? Poverty? A couple of unproductive corporate warts oughtta fix that, right? English Canada’s faith in its useless barons and oligarchs is frankly cringeworthy, and no example of this is more perfect than the Winnipeg Jets. Profiting nobody but Canada’s oligarchs and predicated on nothing but nostalgia and prior bad business decisions (i.e.: moving a fucking hockey team to fucking Atlanta), the Winnipeg Jets are an example of how strange Canada’s definition of a “successful enterprise” really is. Social good? Fuck that! The Barons need money!

#81 – The Cult(ure) of Hockey, Part Six: See, See? Marketing!

English Canada’s weird relationship with hockey is emblazoned on advertisements for hockey gear.

CCM, owned by Reebok but nevertheless supplying Canada’s demand for hockey equipment and recalls for hockey equipment with aplomb, has this to say on its homepage:

Hockey is so much more than just a game; it is passion, pride and quite simply, a way of life.

Too bad for CCM that it is also unable to use words properly. Hockey is expressly just a game – that’s what it’s defined as. It would be like if I told you that putting pants on is more than clothing yourself, or that having a snack is more than eating. By definition, you’ve failed out of the gate. But don’t worry – hockey is passion, pride, and a way of life. Never mind that these conditions can apply to anything – after all, I’m passionate about shitting on Canada, I’m proud of myself for being able to bring these problems to the fore, and that I lead my life hyper-critically. Why aren’t I “made of blogging”?

Not one scroll down, CCM contradicts itself by referring to hockey as “the greatest game in the world”. They even have a cute hashtag campaign, #MadeofHockey, so that you can be identified as an idiot from the get-go. People aren’t made of hockey, you tools. They also aren’t made of “shutting the door”, whatever that was supposed to mean. Are you suggesting that the existential purpose of the hockeymans in the net there is to stop pucks such that he is made of anti-puck material? Why not get a block of concrete? It does the same job, it’s made of puck-stopping material, it’s cheaper, and it has fewer brains to get scrambled when CCM’s kwality equipment fails. You can even mold concrete into a shape to sell logo’d ad space with! Just like they do with the real person!

But, you say, CCM isn’t the only company making hockey gear.

Fair enough. How about Bauer, which tells me to #OwntheMoment because the Game Starts Here. See, CCM? You’re fucking wrong. How the Game Starts with me browsing the Internet to find ridiculous marketing phrases tied to NHL contract hockeymans and thus to Canadiana I don’t know, seeing as how my relationship to hockey is about as sturdy as my relationship to Bhutanese citizenship is, but that’s for Bauer to grapple with.

Of course, both of these companies shilling ridiculously-expensives Made-in-China-and-thus-totally-safe-for-slamming-into-each-other-on-ice are prone to recalls. Who knew that using nonsense pump-up talk predicated on the idea that NHL contractors also use this shit isn’t the same thing as making decent equipment in the first place? Bauer got slammed with a recall less than a month ago with goalie masks; CCM has had sticks break, pads fail, and helmets burst almost yearly. Sorry Timmy, but that helmet was made of donkey-shit, so if Chuckie nails you your braincage is taking the hit directly. Hope you’re Made of Hockey (and Shutting the Door, because sense), Timmy!

Shit – maybe brain injuries make the adverts more palatable.