Toews Posted August 11, 2015 Share Posted August 11, 2015 I just read an article on the latest of Canuck hires, Mike Addesa. He was hired by the Canucks as an amateur scout. Mike Addesa made some controversial comments as a coach directed towards two black players before resigning. Here is the full article and the link is included below. Somehow, in the flurry of fires, hires, and promotions in the summer of 2015, the Canucks PR team remains intact. It’s been a difficult summer for the Canucks’ brass, seemingly making one questionable move after another, each more maligned than the last. Just before acquiring Brandon Sutter and hastily signing him to a 5-year extension, the Canucks’ came under fire for what appeared to be a complete disregard of BC’s fire and water restrictions. In what appears to be the latest in a long line of PR nightmares, the Canucks have hired former NCAA coach Mike Addesa on as an amateur scout. Given the long list of acquisitions and promotion of new Assistant General Manager Jon Weisbrod, the addition of the organization’s newest amateur scout has understandably been glossed over. Addesa is best known for winning an NCAA Division I Men’s Ice Hockey Championship in 1985 with the RPI Engineers, and for being fired from his position in 1989 for making racist comments towards two of his black players. One of those players was Graeme Townshend, a Jamaican-Canadian NHL veteran of four years, who recounted his experiences with Addesa to Claudia Kolker of the Houston Press: There’s a lot to chew on there. We at OneCanuck try to steer away from the overtly negative attitude that often surrounds this organization. Unfortunately, there’s really no positive way to spin this incident. It’s all garbage, from top to bottom. The only silver lining, and it’s a weak one at that, is that as a scout, Addesa is unlikely to have any contact with the players or fans. I’m not an expert on race. As a white twentysomething, I’m fortunate enough that no words will ever hold the power to hurt me as much as those spoken by Mr. Adessa to Mr. Townshend. I cannot speak to what it is like to be on the wrong end of a racial power dynamic, and I count myself lucky in that regard. It would be easy for me to dismiss the incident as something that happened 26 years ago, and isn’t relevant today. I refuse to do that. If Addesa is a changed man, he certainly hasn’t done anything to indicate it. For over two decades, Addesa has remained cagey on the subject, saying only that his remarks were taken out of context and “not meant racially”. He even painted himself as the victim in the situation in an interview in May of 1991 due to his inability to get a coaching job after the incident. When one takes into account both his comments and his response to the controversy, there’s really only one conclusion to be drawn: Addesa is either unbelievably racist, incredibly ignorant, or both. Everyone is capable of making mistakes, or saying things they don’t mean in the heat of the moment, but it doesn’t take a cultural anthropologist to understand that using a word that has been associated with the oppression, degradation, and enslavement of North America’s largest minority group is stupefyingly bad idea. The Canucks hiring of Mike Addesa shines a bad light on this organization, especially given it’s relatively progressive stance on gay rights, mental illness, and even fighting in the NHL. Perhaps even worse is the light it shines on the lillywhite culture of the NHL. Despite the fact that African-Americans are the sport’s fastest-growing fan demographic, there are still only 31 active black hockey players in the NHL. In a league that very clearly still has a race problem, teams should be doing all they can to welcome players of all cultural backgrounds. The Canucks have a black player that will be playing with their AHL affiliate next season, Jordan Subban. Is this hire something that’s going to help him feel welcomed by the organization? If Kyle Okposo makes it to free agency next summer, where the Canucks are bound to be big players, what kind of message does hiring Addesa send to him about how he’ll be viewed by the management team? And perhaps more importantly, how can a team that’s put such an onus on players with strong off-ice character not hold its scouts to the same standard? When Derek Dorsett was extended, Jim Benning referred to him as a “culture carrier”. Hiring Addesa calls into question just what kind of “culture” they’re trying to build. Throughout the first year of this management group’s tenure, The Canucks have placed very high value on employing players that are good people, sometimes even at the expense of talent. The fact that this ethos does not extend into their scouting department is absolute hypocrisy. Obviously, everyone deserves to have the hand of forgiveness extended towards them. Anybody can be given a second chance. But to be afforded that chance, we must attempt to make reparations with the people we’ve alienated – something Addesa has failed to do.* Addesa’s remarks call to mind an incident in the late 1970s when British New Wave pioneer Elvis Costello ironically used the n-word to refer to James Brown and Ray Charles in a drunken attempt to get Stephen Stills to leave him alone. He spent years trying to atone for it, working extensively with Rock Against Racism and even refusing to meet with Ray Charles due to the strong sense of shame he felt towards his actions. Even after a number of goodwill gestures, many have no desire to forgive the songwriter, and they have every right to feel the way they do. Compare that to Addesa’s response of “I didn’t mean it like that” and it’s hard to feel any sympathy for him. Simply put, he hasn’t done enough to atone for his past. A hug and a press conference isn’t an apology, it’s a poor attempt at saving face. Unfortunately, GM Jim Benning’s ideas on the matter weren’t a heck of a lot more enlightened when he addressed the matter in an interview with Iain MacIntyre of the Vancouver Sun: In every defense I’ve read of Addesa, this is the major talking point: It was 25 years ago. What Addesa, Benning, and his defenders have all failed to mention, however, is that just because something occurred 25 years ago doesn’t make it right. Whether it was 50 years ago, 25 years ago, or yesterday, Addesa’s words carried the power to demean and abuse not just his players, but all players and fans of African descent. Not exactly the type of person I would want mentoring young people. Publicly, what little Addesa has said on the matter has hit all the wrong notes: Failure to take responsibility, making excuses, and speaking only of how the incident has affected him. Frankly, his continued employment by teams in the NHL shines a bad light on the league and even the sport in general. It’s entirely possible that Addesa isn’t the man who said those words anymore, or that he’s turned over a new leaf. But his attitude towards the incident that has tarnished his reputation makes it hard not to draw the conclusion that he’s incredibly callous when it comes to matters of race. If he’s going to act like a racist, he should be treated like one – he of all people should understand that. Here is the link to the full article: http://onecanuck.com/2015/08/07/mike-addesa-state-racism-nhl/ As far as the reason why I am posting this. I feel that Canucks fans have a right to know about any hires made by the team and their history. The Canucks have one of the most culturally diverse fan bases in the NHL. Before anyone accuses me of attacking the Canucks, that is certainly not my intention. I do believe in second chances but does Addesa's unrepentant attitude make him deserve this opportunity. He is a scout so as the author says he shouldn't really have much contact with the players but should the Canucks have stayed away from this hire? The Wings had him in their organization for 15 years so they obviously were willing to overlook his past. Are the Canucks wise to continue to do the same? Disclaimer: This is obviously a sensitive topic so please follow all board rules. Keep all discussion focused on the hiring of Mike Addesa rather than blaming a particular person (which seems like the current sentiment on this forum). Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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