I’ve been trying for the last little while to figure out why the whole deal with the New York Rangers and Marty’s mom has been annoying me so much, but I couldn’t quite put my finger on it until some misogynist asshole made the news and the #YesAllWomen hashtag came into being.
France St. Louis was close to my age, so that bothered me. My mother is dead, but so are a lot of people’s mothers, and it doesn’t make any of us special. Why was I so angry? Why has it made me a Habs fan all of a sudden?
(Well, that’s not really a hardship, what with PK Subban and all.)
And then it struck me: the whole narrative has been all about how poor Marty’s mother died (not Marty’s poor mother) and in spite of his grief he played in a hockey game, and that inspired his teammates so much they kicked the Pittsburgh Penguins right on out of the playoffs.
And he scored a goal on Mother’s Day and thumped his chest and pointed at the sky, or looked up at the lights, or some such thing, and didn’t it make you want to just cry?
Or, as so many hockey writers and commentators put it, “it got a little dusty in here.”
And that just made me want to gag, but I couldn’t figure out why.
And somewhere in there the whole team went to her funeral and then they played so well they kicked the Montreal Canadiens right on out of the playoffs.
Only they haven’t so far, and they may not, and that’s just fine with me.
To be fair, Martin St. Louis is not the one pushing this narrative. I’m sure he’d give up a dozen Stanley Cups to have his mother still with him.
Also to be fair, the Rangers aren’t the ones pushing this narrative, either. They’ve been very careful to walk that fine line between inspiration and exploitation. Brad Richards has been especially thoughtful in his comments on the situation.
But the media, oy. It’s died down right now, but if the Rangers go on to the SCF, I’m sure we’ll have to hear about it all over again.
And it all came to a head for me yesterday, when someone on the radio was discussing the Rangers and said that Marty’s story was a good story. A fun story to follow. If they make the finals it’ll be just like a movie. How Marty couldn’t score when he first came over from Tampa, but he had a terrible thing happen in his life, his team rallies around him, and he starts scoring goals. How like if it really was a movie, they would have swept the series with the Habs, but it was still a fun story anyway.
And between that and the hashtag, that’s when it all coalesced in my brain.
Martin St. Louis’ mother is not a plot device. She was a real flesh and blood woman, an actual person. She wasn’t just someone’s mother, or wife, she was someone real all by herself. She was no one’s possession.
Her death didn’t happen to Marty, it happened to her. She DIED. Her death didn’t happen to the New York Rangers, it happened to her. She’s DEAD.
Also, she had a name. She was France St. Louis. She wasn’t just Marty St. Louis’ mother. And if she had a choice, my guess is she’d choose being alive as opposed to her son winning a Stanley Cup.
So stop it already with the narrative of a man channeling his grief from the death of a woman to do noble things. The ice is cold enough; it doesn’t need a refrigerator in the middle of it.