National Post

What does hockey say about Canada’s national identity?Hockey’s national identity wars are currently on display at the world championship in Slovakia. On Monday, Canada beat Sweden 3-2 in a game that featured a controversial body check by Canadian captain Rick Nash.Nash ran over a Swedish opponent at centre ice, sparking outrage in the Swedish ranks and defiance in the Canadian dressing room. “Nash is playing a man’s game,” Canadian coach Ken Hitchcock said. “He is doing exactly what we need him to do.”Parse the words and you find a subtext that speaks to our perception of what the stereotypical Canadian hockey player should be. He plays hard. He never quits after getting belted by a body check. Canadians dust themselves off. Canadians are men.But are Canadian hockey players actually windows to the country’s cultural soul, or merely trifling sideshows clad in a Maple Leaf sweater? Do national teams, in any sport, in any country, say something about national character?

What does hockey say about Canada’s national identity?
Hockey’s national identity wars are currently on display at the world championship in Slovakia. On Monday, Canada beat Sweden 3-2 in a game that featured a controversial body check by Canadian captain Rick Nash.

Nash ran over a Swedish opponent at centre ice, sparking outrage in the Swedish ranks and defiance in the Canadian dressing room. “Nash is playing a man’s game,” Canadian coach Ken Hitchcock said. “He is doing exactly what we need him to do.”

Parse the words and you find a subtext that speaks to our perception of what the stereotypical Canadian hockey player should be. He plays hard. He never quits after getting belted by a body check. Canadians dust themselves off. Canadians are men.

But are Canadian hockey players actually windows to the country’s cultural soul, or merely trifling sideshows clad in a Maple Leaf sweater? Do national teams, in any sport, in any country, say something about national character?

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