“Cold-Cocked” Is a Hot Read

When I first saw Lorna Jackson’s book, “Cold-Cocked: On Hockey,” I knew it was going to be an interesting read, judging by the use of the F-bomb on the back cover. And I was not disappointed by the actual content of the book. “Cold-Cocked” is one writer’s point of view about hockey, specifically about how women watch and relate to the game. Jackson uses her personal relationships with her daughter, husband, and friends to show what hockey means to different people and different genders. She’s a Canucks fan, and takes the reader through her experience as a fan and as a professional in the time before the lockout. For example, at one game when a young boy gets a puck in the face, she sees Todd Bertuzzi in a different light than a group of men behind her:

Bert has his face pressed against the glass, watching Every stop in play – the nurse comes down, the Host is back giving out gifts and writing down info – Bert’s watching…Bert checks on the injured boy. But the guys behind us are interested in hookers and fat salaries and brutal hits. The obvious and overwhelming heart of a guy like Bert doesn’t interest them. If it does, they don’t talk it up. We see who we are in players – self-identification, the sociologists call it- who we want to be, that’s why we make them heroes.

I agree with her. If I had been at that game, I likely would have had a similar reaction. Does that lessen the impact of the game or make me a wuss? I certainly don’t think so. But that group of guys would disagree, or chalk it up to being a woman. Why can’t there be room for both sides or even a hybrid- one that sees the players as warriors, or the other side that sees the players’ humanity?

Jackson’s take on the locker room was especially eye-opening:

The locker room did not seem welcoming for women; too many rules, for one. And it seemed governed by a culture that services old-school newspaper beat boys and sports-show gel-hairs and gives them whatever they need – post-game stats, pre-game predictions, insider yuck-yucks – to oil the machine of the team’s public persona. But it gives them – or writers not part of the machine like me – little else.

After reading her account of interviewing several players in the locker room, I felt uncomfortable, because I could easily relate to her experience. She had put into words what I had seen and felt myself. As a woman and someone who’s outside the traditional media, the Caps staff and the players have always been professional and accommodating to me, yet there are very subtle differences between how men and women are viewed in the locker room environment. It’s not something that’s easy to put into words, but Jackson did it. I prefer not to dwell on gender differences, but they exist and can’t be ignored.
Later in the book, I was relieved to see that Jackson’s characterization of Don Cherry was similar to my own, and it’s refreshing to see that not all of Canada embraces him:

So sue me for not celebrating Cherry’s profound knowledge of the game, what he adds to the spectacle, and his support of good Canadian boys; I’m not saying get rid of him. If we treat Cherry’s appearances as comedy, his bits are entertaining. But I don’t think he is clearly – not to children – comic…If I think of him as a parody of the old school of hockey, I can handle, even enjoy, Cherry. But as soon as I think of the boys and girls – and moms and dads- who watch him and receive his permission by example to be violent and bigoted bullies, I feel ashamed that we allow him to be so visible.

This is what irks me about Cherry. As a one-dimensional character, he’s relatively harmless, but I think of all the kids who take him seriously and can’t help pitying them. Of course, this is just one American’s view from the outside; perhaps I’d feel differently if I lived up there and watched Cherry on a regular basis, though I doubt it.
Overall, it was a revealing, fascinating read. Occasionally I had trouble following Jackson’s train of thought, but she managed to bring me back fairly quickly. I enjoyed reading her take on the game, and appreciated how she was able to link her personal relationships back to hockey (and vice versa). I would recommend the book to anyone who wants to delve deeper into the game and see what’s below the surface.
For more information on “Cold-Cocked,” Lorna Jackson’s website can be found here.

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5 Responses to “Cold-Cocked” Is a Hot Read

  1. Walt says:

    Thanks for the heads up on Cold Cocked. Should be an interesting read.

  2. Josh says:

    That sounds like a really interesting book. I’m gonna have to give that a try if I can find it around here. I guess amazon would probably work too.

  3. HockeePhan says:

    I don’t let my son watch Don Cherry. He is an inside joke that frankly I don’t want to have to explain. Way back when, in Canada, there used to be Peter Puck, aimed at kids during a game that they knew kids watched.
    Now Cherry is like putting raw talk radio on TV. Which is fine if you are with a group of grown ups – but that hockey telecast is watched by so many kids, and Cherry is an enabler for a macho standard of the game that is off-putting to many. If it wasn’t for the “gosh, what is he going to say next factor”, there wouldn’t be any reason to watch him.
    I have heard that the CBC has lost the broadcast rights to Hockey Night in Canada sometime around 2010. I hope the new broadcaster doesn’t feel the need to replicate the tired CBC Don Cherry formula.
    As for the locker room …. I can’t comment specifically on that, but I have been to enough hockey old boy events to know that the hockey establishment can make it tough for new fans to embrace the game.

  4. "Aneesa" says:

    I am glad to see that a female has written a book seemingly better for real female hockey fans than Lisa Oven’s book “High in High Heels.”

  5. Can’t speak to the Ovens book (though I did read the HLOG review), but yes, Lorna Jackson seems to know quite a lot about hockey.

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