Blackhawks

Former Blackhawk Jordin Tootoo asks for context with racial team names

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USA Today

Former Blackhawk Jordin Tootoo asks for context with racial team names

Former Blackhawks forward Jordin Tootoo shared a personal statement regarding the CFL’s Edmonton Eskimos team name.

The statement comes in the middle of a national debate about whether sports teams should change offensive team names, like the Washington Redskins.

When sharing his thoughts as an Indigenous Canadian, Tootoo said that context for these team names is critical.

“We should all understand what the term (Eskimo) means to the Inuk people,” Tootoo said. “My father’s generation connects with this term to describe who they are. He would refer to himself as Eskimo. My generation refers to itself as Inuk.

“What is important to me is that people understand this. And, when referring to the Inuit people, they respect that we refer to ourselves today as Inuk.”

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But Tootoo goes on to explain he is only one person, that other Inuit people may think differently, and their thoughts and feelings should be considered as well.

“I understand there are names of sports teams that bring back feelings of oppression for people and I can see why those names should be changed.

“So, this makes me ask the question, does the term Eskimo for the Edmonton franchise bring back feelings of oppression for Inuk people? For me, it does not. That is NOT a reason to keep the name. There could be others for whom it does create those feelings. But for me, it does not.”

For Tootoo the history of how the team landed on the name “Eskimos” makes all the difference.

“I encourage the Franchise to explain why they chose the name Eskimos in the first place. Was it racially charged, or, was it because of admiration for the ability of the Eskmos to thrive in cold climates, for their mental and physical toughness and for their resilience?

“My point is that context really does matter. And, they need to be honest with themselves and with the public. Truth goes a long way.”

In the end, Tootoo again emphasizes he is only one person, and cannot speak for all Inuk people.

"I think the discussion should be around how the Inuk people feel about it. Some might feel pride. Some might feel hurt. Either way, that is the group that should be consulted."

Tootoo was applauded on Twitter for his measured response, with some calling for this to be a template of future discourse.

On Wednesday, the Blackhawks provided the exact context Tootoo asked for in regards to their team name and mascot.

“The Chicago Blackhawks name and logo symbolizes an important and historic person, Black Hawk of Illinois’ Sac & Fox Nation, whose leadership and life has inspired generations of Native Americans, veterans and the public,” the Blackhawks said.

“We celebrate Black Hawk’s legacy by offering ongoing reverent examples of Native American culture, traditions and contributions, providing a platform for genuine dialogue with local and national Native American groups. As the team’s popularity grew over the past decade, so did that platform and our work with these important organizations.

“We will continue to serve as stewards of our name and identity, and will do so with a commitment to evolve. Our endeavors in this area have been sincere and multi-faceted, and the path forward will draw on that experience to grow as an organization and expand our efforts.”

RELATED: Report: Edmonton hospital experiences 'full-facility' COVID-19 outbreak

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Former Blackhawks goalie Robin Lehner remains unbeaten with Vegas Golden Knights

Former Blackhawks goalie Robin Lehner remains unbeaten with Vegas Golden Knights

On Thursday in Game 2, the Blackhawks tested Robin Lehner more than they did in Game 1 of the first round Stanley Cup Playoff series, when he only had to save 19 of 20 shots.

The Hawks were able to put 25 pucks on the Golden Knights' net, with three getting past Lehner to take the game to overtime where Vegas would triumph to take a 2-0 series lead.

"It was a little bit of a weird game," Lehner said following his Game 2 win. "There was not that much to do and I thought they had some good chances. I thought that Chicago played really well. Everyone keeps saying they're (the) underdog, but you look at their team: the experience, the skill... it's Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane out there. It's a lot of skill and they're world class players, so when they get opportunities it's hard. I got to look at the tape, I think I can be a little bit better, but a win's a win."

Related: Former Blackhawks goalie Robin Lehner's birthday cake is ureal

With the victory, Lehner remains unbeaten in the 2020 postseason (4-0) and unbeaten as a Golden Knight. 

The 29-year-old netminder went 3-0-0 with 1.67 goals-against average and .940 save percentage with the Knights during the regular season ahead of the NHL Pause due to the COVID-19 pandemic on March 12. 

Related: Robin Lehner opens up on getting traded by Blackhawks

Lehner was traded from Chicago to Vegas ahead of Feb. 24's trade deadline. He was 16-10-5 as a Hawk this season with a 3.01 goals-against average and a .918 save percentage prior to the move.

Vegas goalie Marc-Andre Fleury, a three-time Stanley Cup champ with the Pittsburgh Penguins, may have lost the starter job to Lehner, at least for now. Fleury was only in net for one Golden Knights' round-robin game, with Lehner starting the rest of the postseason contests so far.

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Patrick Kane passes Bobby Hull for third place in Blackhawks' all-time playoff points

Patrick Kane passes Bobby Hull for third place in Blackhawks' all-time playoff points

On Thursday, Patrick Kane made even more history to cement himself among top all-time legendary Blackhawks in the Hawks' 4-3 overtime loss in Game 2 of the first round Stanley Cup Playoffs series against the Vegas Golden Knights.

In the second period of Game 2, Kane recorded three points off three assists to pass Bobby Hull (129) for third in most playoff points in Hawks history with 130. Denis Savard is in second with 145 and Stan Mikita is No. 1 with 150.

Related: Blackhawks' Patrick Kane found his postseason game, but is it too late?

"Well, I've been fortunate to play on some amazing teams. And I guess when you have some deep runs in the playoffs, you're going to have the chance to put up numbers and points when you're an offensive guy," a humble Kane said following Thursday's loss. "So I appreciate those teams I've been on, trying to do the same thing here with this team.

"I think we got a good group. I think we proved it all year when we played in tough situations, faced some adversity that we were able to come back, we're able to work our way out of it. This isn't a team that's going to give up and I think we're in a situation here where we're coming into a day off then a back-to-back situation and we feel we got a young team with some fresh legs, so hopefully that can be used to our advantage."

The Hawks take on the Knights in Game 3 Saturday at 7 p.m. and Game 4 Sunday at 5:30 p.m. CT.

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