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Hockey, Sports

Canucks players banned from playing video games on road trips

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Wyatt Arndt Oct 02, 2018 2:12 pm 11,519

While it was announced that no captain would be named this season for the Canucks, newly appointed alternate captain Bo Horvat continued to fill the pseudo captain role by standing front and centre talking to the media and fielding questions afterwards.

During a conversation with TSN 1040, once again one of the hottest talking points from the summer reared it’s head; our old friend Fortnite. When asked about what he knew of new teammate Elias Pettersson, Bo Horvat said knows the young Swede likes Fortnite, but that they’d “have to get him off that,” which opened up the conversation to video games.

Remember, Michael Del Zotto suggested earlier in the pre-season that Fortnite might be banned on the road, and Bo Horvat, confirmed as much.

In talking with TSN 1040, Bo explained that it’s not just Fortnite, it’s gaming in general that is being frowned upon.

“Yeah, that’s definitely a no-go on the road,” said Horvat. “No more Fortnite. No more bringing your video games on the road. It’s strictly team meals, team dinners, and hanging out with the guys. So we’ll have to put an end to that.”

“There’s better ways to spend time on the road, whether it’s hanging out with the guys in the room, going to a movie with the guys, doing stuff outside your room. There’s a lot of cool cities we go to visit and to be cooped up in your room all night and not doing anything, playing Fornite, is a waste of your time.”

It should come as no surprise that hockey culture is once again flailing a giant sledgehammer over its head to try and cut up an apple. While MLB is currently embracing the younger demographic and changing landscape, hockey is dragging its feet, refusing to be taken out of the 1980s, the last time a majority of hockey culture was relevant to societal views.

In a world in which video games, now more than ever, are a part of everyone’s lives (whether it be aps on a phone, consoles, or PC gaming), it feels decidedly antiquated to have Horvat wagging his finger at you and scolding you for playing games on a school night. You can almost hear your parents telling you you’ll never make any money playing video games and to focus on school instead.

And yes, let’s be up front about this. Video games can be addictive. They can be an issue for people who don’t know how to regulate it. However, not only does that ignore many cases video game addiction simply masks a bigger issue underneath it (which by all means, address that situation with any player who is going through it), but video games are also used in many positive ways. People use them as a stress reliever quite often. Video games are also used, shocking as this may be for some in hockey, to build and maintain friendships.

Look, no one denies the benefits of team building and no one is suggesting you shouldn’t be checking in with a player if his video game playing is keeping him up all night. If I was running an NHL team I would absolutely be setting up team dinners and encouraging people to hang out and attend movies or knit fancy toques for each other.

But the reality is an 82-game schedule means there will be plenty of downtime for people. You will not realistically be spending time with your teammates 24/7. This also doesn’t even take into account the varying personalities of players. Some are introverts, some are extroverts. Who is to say that it’s more beneficial to go to the bar with your teammates than for a guy who gets stressed in public situations to stay at the hotel and relax with a video game?

Why is a video game the devil in this situation? Is it ok to stay in your hotel room and read a book? Skype with your family? Where does it start and end?

This brings us back to the sledgehammer Bo used today. Banning video games is an incredibly myopic viewpoint. It is singling out video games as the cause of many evils, and ignoring the fact that sitting in your room and relaxing can be done with a variety of activities.

The dismissive tone Horvat uses to exclaim that playing Fortnite is a “waste of time” is disheartening to hear from someone who is in line to be the next captain. Sure, you want your team to bond on the road, hockey is littered with anecdotes of players talking about how long road trips really helped a team create strong bonds. But surely there will be times when someone wants to stay in and do something at the hotel once in a while. What are the rules here? What indoor activities would Horvat consider not a waste of time? What about after the team bonding event? Is Edler allowed to read Of Mice and Men in bed but Pettersson can’t play Angry Birds on his phone?

It seems problematic to have an NHL team tell players what they can and cannot do on their own time. Yes, you have a clear mandate of ‘don’t do anything illegal,’ but other than that, you wonder if the NHLPA would have an issue with the Canucks outright banning a regular every day activity.

Again, this is a league in which they recently named Jagermeister the “official shot” of the NHL and just partnered up with New Amsterdam Vodka. Drinking has a far darker past when it comes to addictive, destructive behaviour, so why isn’t drinking banned on the road? Why have video games been cherry picked as a “bad” thing, but drinking is all good? Hockey players can play hungover but not play tired from being up all night playing games? Wouldn’t you want to address both issues equally?

This doesn’t even get into the fact that Francesco Aquilini recently purchased an Overwatch eSports team, so you would think bad press about video games wouldn’t be high on his bucket list of PR issues to arise before the season started.

And yes, to be fair, this isn’t just a Vancouver issue. As stated, it’s a hockey culture issue. Remember Dougie Hamilton? Sportsnet’s John Shannon said on the SN960 that he might have been traded because he didn’t fit into the room that well. That “when the entire team would go for lunch at Moxie’s, Hamilton would go to a museum” thing. This led to a lot of internet scorn, wondering if books would be banned next.

One would hope that while teams encourage bonding, they realize that players are individuals, and people have different ways of how they wish to spend their personal time. You want to curtail and schedule all after hour activities and plan team bonding events? By all means, that’s a solid plan.

To put a seasonal blackout on one activity that you have decided is a negative because you feel it’s a “waste of time?” That’s just plain shortsighted and ignorant.

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Wyatt Arndt
Daily Hive Vancouver sports writer

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