Michael Jackson Fiascos: Learn from the NHL

Alan BassSenior Writer IJuly 9, 2009

DETROIT - MAY 30:  Hall of Famer Gordie Howe prepares to drop the ceremonial puck before the Detroit Red Wings face Sidney Crosby #87 and the Pittsburgh Penguins in Game 1 of the 2009 Stanley Cup Finals at Joe Louis Arena on May 30, 2009 in Detroit, Michigan.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

Be sure to check out trivia in my profile! You only have a few more days left to answer part one!

Michael Jackson died?  I had no idea.

Sorry, but that just seems to be the joke going around.  Because it seems like ever since he died, he’s been treated as if he is bigger than Jesus (catch the Beatles’ reference).

I’m not saying MJ doesn’t deserve all the accolades he has received from the world since his death.  Although he was before my time (his prime, at least), I am familiar with his work and indeed agree that he was one of the most entertaining music stars that I have ever seen.  His music is brilliant and his passion for his work is even greater.

But MJ has been “dead” for years.  Through all of the controversy with him and his little boys (which I’m not suggesting is true, but it is indeed controversial) and the fact that he has become much stranger as he got older, we seem to forget that everything he did was done in the past.  The distant past.

Yet we waited more than a decade to let him know how we feel?  Especially now when he’s not even alive to appreciate the praise?

So how does this appeal to Bleacher Report and the NHL community?

Well, in the NHL world, the world of hockey, the coolest game on Earth (I believe that’s trademarked somewhere), we tend to praise our heroes while they are still alive.

For example, look at the recent NHL awards.  Jean Beliveau was awarded the NHL Lifetime Achievement award.  Jean, as Commissioner Gary Bettman explained, “was a star, a statesman for our game, and the fans loved the pride he took in his profession and the standards of excellence that he set.  He is the emblem of elegance and class, and he is still beloved today.”

Beliveau is one of the most respected players in NHL history, but we didn’t wait until after he passed away to show him how we felt.  We (and by we, I of course mean the NHL) gave him our praise, love and respect while he is still able to appreciate it, by giving him one of the highest honors in our game.

Joe Sakic announced his retirement on Thursday.  Is anyone waiting for him to leave us completely to let him know how we felt about his presence in the game?  Of course not.

As Ryan Dixon of The Hockey News recently wrote in a piece remembering Joe Sakic, “while others took their turn calling Colorado’s shots, Sakic should and will be remembered as the team’s leading man.”

As anyone can see, Sakic is one of the most respected players in the NHL today and when he gets elected into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2012, he will continue to be known for the same quality.

Lastly, there is "Mr. Hockey", Gordie Howe.  Gordie is known as one of the best players in the game’s history and one of the pioneers behind the great sport.  He still holds the record for most career NHL games played and is third on the all-time scoring list (he held the record for decades before Wayne Gretzky and Mark Messier came along).

Do we forget about him for another 20 years until he is no longer with us?  Absolutely not!

In fact, we remember him now more than ever because of his increasing age and the fact that no one lives forever.  Like both Sakic and Beliveau, Howe is one of the classiest players ever to play the game and is both an ambassador and spokesperson for the game of hockey.  Fans love and respect him, giving him standing ovations at any game he appears at.

So back to Michael Jackson.

Why did people wait more than a decade to praise him for the work he did in the prime of his life?  Why did people sit around, only bragging about the contributions he made to the music world after he died?

Well, I can’t answer that, because I’m not one of them.  I choose to remember him my own way, which is the same way I remembered him during his life: by listening to his music every now and then and thinking, “Wow, that man sure can perform.”

Did we need to wait so long to say that?

Alan Bass is a Senior Writer and NHL Community Leader for Bleacher Report.  He is also an intern for The Hockey News Magazine.  A writer for Insidehockey, Prohockeynews and Hockey54. You can contact him at ALN424@aol.com.


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