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Riding the Tootoo Train.

When I wrote my first blog about an American Indian player in the NHL: Carey Price. Since this is the last post that is not a reflection, I thought it would be appropriate to come full circle to talk about another American Indian making waves in the NHL playoffs. It is not Carey Price; his Canadiens lost in seven games to the Boston Bruins. Nope, this time I am talking about the TooToo Train: Jordin Tootoo of the Nashville Predators.

As I mentioned before, there are only a handful of American Indians in the NHL and professional sports as a whole. Throughout the course of our class, I think I have come to grasp some of the reasons on why that is, like the pressures that come from the reservation; people putting all their hopes on certain individuals showing so much potential. In Tootoo’s case, he was able to get away from the pressure because his skill was so high that it was in his benefit to leave when he was 14 so he could find competition appropriate for someone so prodigous.

Another thing we have addressed in the class is stereotypes such as the Drunken Indian stereotype. I think something that gets lost in that discussion is that alcoholism is actually a problem and when an individual who happens to be American Indian happens to be an acoholic, it should not be taken lightly or brushed off. This was the case with Tootoo. He did not grow up and hang out on the reservation drinking. His battle with alcoholism was a product of his ability to cope with his brother’s suicide. He did not know what he turned to, so he turned to alcohol. This is a life-changing event and occurences such as these frequently cause shifts mental breakdowns or addictions.

But, instead of staying a victim to the disease as well as stereotyping, Tootoo checked himself into rehab and eventually was reinstated back into the NHL where he is making a big impact.

Tootoo was the first Inuit to play in the NHL when he debut’d as a rookie in 2003. He has played for Nashville the entire time who have been unable to win a playoff series in their franchise history until this season. He is an extremely tough force and agitator playing the Enforcer position. In the playoffs this year, he had five points (1 goal, 4 assists) in the first round and is continuing to play an integral role in the series. Although down 3-2 and facing elimination at this moment, they won the last game they played and if the team takes on the aggressive, defensive mentality that Tootoo maintains, maybe just maybe, they can come back against the regular season champion Vancouver Canucks. I’ll be watching.

Courtesy of Indian Country Today =>>


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