Chronicle | How could we sum up the sporting year 2022 to a castaway?

The surrealism of this sporting year hit me hard for the first time at the end of April when the Canadian has concluded its worst season since the start of the six-team era in 1942, to a thunderous ovation from its supporters.

It was April 29. The CH occupied the 32nd and last rank in the NHL and the team was trying to win a… 22nd victory in its 82nd and final game of the campaign. The moment was announced all the same solemn since Carey Price was preparing to play the last game of his career.

This evening, however, turned out to be a kind of parody. The Florida Panthers, who thought they were preparing for a long playoff journey, had given their two best defensemen and their six best forwards time off. The other Panthers players have barely made an appearance.

Result: the CH easily won by a score of 10-2 in front of a standing crowd, in ecstasy, who really seemed to believe in the spectacle. And Price, visibly nostalgic, spent the evening saying hello to his children posted behind the bay window.

That night, a fan who had spent the last 25 years on a desert island would have had a very hard time understanding what was going on. And he would probably have had a stroke in October, noting that the Sainte-Flanelle was now adorned with the vulgar logo of a bank. Or by learning that we had swapped the mythical red sweater for a powder blue one, just to stimulate sales in the souvenir shop.

In the end, Kent Hughes and Jeff Gorton have certainly understood that they are facing a real blank slate. There is no pressure. There isn’t much left, in fact. And they have all the latitude and all the time to try to rebuild this team.

Then imagine the reaction of the castaway when he was told of events such as the disappearance of Peng Shuai, the death of the plan to simultaneously install a major league baseball team in Montreal and Tampa, the report on the future of hockey commissioned by the Prime Minister Legault or the fact that the CH is now run by two hockey men because the reign of the previous DG convinced the owner that this position was too demanding for a single head.

An old section of the magazine Sports Illustrated looks like these are all harbingers of the apocalypse.

***

A few days after the last game of the CH, to their amazement, the Canadians also discovered that Hockey Canada, one of the most admired sports federations in the country, was deeply dysfunctional.

Hockey Canada executives weren’t content to reach an out-of-court settlement, complete with a confidentiality clause, that protected eight junior hockey players who committed an alleged gang rape in 2018.

They defended this decision tooth and nail by rebuffing the media, lying about the alleged victim’s dealings with the police, hiring a public relations firm and even defying parliament. And all this, ignoring the national sponsors who fled the boat.

Despite the arrival of a new board of directors and the eventual appointment of a new management team at Hockey Canada, this story will still be talked about a lot in 2023.

Strangely, the initial investigation by London police, as well as an investigation commissioned by Hockey Canada from a law firm, came to nothing in 2018. However, recent revelations from The Globe and Mail and TSN suggest that the second investigations by the police and the federation will this time lead to charges and sanctions.

If this were to prove true, when the dust settles, it will be necessary to wonder why the first investigations had led to nothing, while the second seem to have been carried out much more seriously.

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In 2022, the beautiful showcases offered by sport have remained very popular with the leaders of totalitarian countries.

China hosted the Winter Games in subjecting its visitors to paranoid sanitary rules. The host country also reserved a place of honor for Vladimir Putin during the opening ceremonies, when everyone knew he was preparing to invade Ukraine.

After a few months of this particularly dirty war, Thomas Bach, always very accommodating and servile when it comes to the Russians, has already felt sufficiently comfortable to promote the return of Russia to the Olympic fold.

Qatar, following a gigantic corruption operation, presented the Soccer World Cup in December. Major sponsor Budweiser, which was erased from Qatari public space a few hours before the start of the tournamentwill remember it for a long time.

The breathtaking play of Lionel Messi and Kylian Mbappé, however, gave the Qatari regime all the visibility it wanted.

Furthermore, it should be remembered that in the spring, Saudi Arabia dipped into some 600 billion from its investment fund to launch a new professional golf championship, which bears the name of LIV, with the aim of competing the PGA.

To convince them to make the jump, the Saudis have paid sums of 125 to 200 million dollars to many players like Dustin Johnson and Phil Mickelson. And that’s before they even hit a single ball.

One of two things: either these astronomical contracts show that the Saudis love golf, or they simply reveal how far they are willing to go to improve their image.

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The year 2022 has also reminded us that even immortals eventually bow out. We have lost some larger than life heroes.

The Brazilians, who have just learned of the death of Pelé, undertake a great national mourning.

This event reminds us of the strong emotion that gripped Quebecers when Guy Lafleur passed away last April.

The tens of thousands of testimonials and photos from Lafleur fans that have spontaneously flooded social networks have demonstrated the extent to which the Blond Demon had transcended his sport and had imprinted himself in the hearts and imaginations of his people.

It’s been a long time since Quebecers have been as united as during this great collective pain.

***

Through it all, there have also been extraordinary sporting moments.

The anthology final which opposed France to Argentina at the World Cup will mark the spirits for a long time.

Defenseman Cale Makar won the Norris Trophy and the Conn-Smythe Trophy, in addition to leading the Colorado Avalanche to the Stanley Cup.

The Canadian women’s hockey team that won gold in Beijing was the most dominant in history. And forward Sarah Nurse scored an Olympic record with 18 points in the tournament.

At 19, the Spaniard Carlos Alcaraz won the United States Open, in addition to becoming the youngest player in history to reach the 1st place in the ATP rankings.

Félix-Auger Aliassime finished the season ranked 6th in the world. He led Canada to its first-ever Davis Cup title, as well as the ATP Cup, in addition to winning four titles. FAA also had Alcaraz the two times their paths crossed this year. It promises for the future.

***

However, there are traditions that seem almost immutable and that have continued in 2022.

Thus, even after very long years spent on a desert island, a survivor would not be disoriented to learn that the Maple Leafs were again eliminated in the first round of the playoffs and that Gary Bettman was entitled, once again, to a sincere chorus of boos during the repechage held in Montreal at the beginning of the summer.

Just to see if it will happen again, we can only look forward to 2023!

Chronicle | How could we sum up the sporting year 2022 to a castaway?