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Hockey teams fearing ‘Fortnite’ is pretty adorable


If you want to be bummed out, if not lose hope for humanity, just scroll through the news of the day. Unfortunately, the odds are high that you’ll feel worse than when you started.

It’s in these trying times that we can soothe our souls with the sheer, lovable goofiness that is the latest talk about how teams fear the impact of the wildly popular video game “Fortnite” on prospects.

To review, TSN’s Rick Westhead made some waves with this tweet regarding OHL prospects, something we should all really take a step back and just enjoy:

Oh, hockey people. Your understanding of that outside world/museums cannot ever be understated.

It must be said that this is far from the first time that “Fortnite” has been tarred. In case you missed it, Sportsnet’s Jeff Marek discussed during an episode of the “31 Thoughts” Podcast that an unnamed “first-round pick” from a prominent NHL team whose career may never take thanks to an addiction to the battle royale game.

It’s all ... funny, honestly.

Granted, there is the concern that a player with high-level hands will develop a dreaded case of “Nintendo Thumb.”

Scary stuff, gang.

Now, yes, it’s true that the American Psychiatric Association is taking a look at gaming disorder as a legitimate concern, but this all smells of us oldies not quite understanding what those young’uns are into these days. One could picture scouts being terrified over a young prospect needing to “collect them all” to the detriment of on-ice development back in 1992:

Erik Gudbranson really gets at the heart of the matter: a lot of us don’t get “Fortnite” because we’re old, and we might as well get used to being passed by thanks to the next thing those whippersnappers end up becoming obsessed with.

“To be honest with you, these kids are too good at this game,” Gudbranson said recently, via TSN’s Mark Masters. “I go on there, I get roasted, and you just get sick of it.”

(True. Few things sting as deeply as getting schooled by a teenager, especially when that was Auston Matthews or Mitch Marner.)

The fear of the polygonal unknown is honestly kind of charming, although it shines a light on how out-of-touch people can be when they’re deep in their hockey bubbles.

Maybe hockey teams do need to keep an eye on a player if such activities become an extreme outlier, but overall this feels like the hockey equivalent of being afraid to televise Elvis swiveling his hips. This is a far cry from rumbling about “Dry Islands,” after all. Such concerns would be easier to respect if scouts also worried about players spending too much time on golf courses, or other things they’re actually familiar with.

It must be surreal for Westhead, in particular, to discuss the perils of “Fortnite.” After all, Westhead tends to report on concussions, i.e. issues that actually do make a major impact on the lives and careers of hockey players.

A player indulging in too much Playstation should be filed under good problems to have, particularly when you consider the other ways one can spend their time. When you think of some of the extremely ugly scandals that surface in sports, “Fortnite phobia” borders on charming.

Instead of worrying about “Fortnite,” we should instead just enjoy the barbs.

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.