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It began with Grapes but the end is uncertain. Don Cherry’s now infamous “You People” rant was the match that lit the fire.
The Social’s Jessica Allen took Cherry’s comments and ran regaling us with memories of her formative years and how those stories can be applied to all hockey players across the country and fans of the game alike.
Akim Aliu, a Nigerian-born NHL player, came out against former coach Bill Peters recently. Talking via social media about an incident where Peters used racial epithets a decade earlier while he was playing for the AHL’s Rockford IceHogs. Since the post, many other former players of Peters have come forward as well with stories of his unprofessional conduct and controversial coaching style. Peters stepped down Friday as coach of the Calgary Flames.
Daniel Carcillo is leading a twitter brigade against abuse within the organizations of Hockey Canada and the NHL. He has been encouraging other players to do the same and they haven’t wasted any time. Dozens of former players from the NHL, OHL, WHL and minor league have come forward with similar stories of abuse. The University of Lethbridge has had six female hockey players make a formal complaint with the University’s human resources department asking for their coach Michelle Janus to be fired for several instances of bullying, although the details remain unclear. So far the university has decided to keep Janus as Coach of the school team.
Several former players have come out against the Sutter family as well, including Brent, Brian, Darryl, Duane, Rich and Ron. The entire family all played at one time in the NHL before moving on to team management or becoming coaches themselves. One player has suggested that this has given the Sutter boys almost a Royal Family status amongst the NHL and Hockey Canada, and that has made them extremely powerful so no one has had their voice heard up to this point or dared to speak up. The Sutters have not yet made a comment on the (at this point) vague allegations.
The complaints against some individuals in the professional hockey world have ranged from sexual and physical abuse to hazing and underage drinking.
Rookie parties have come under fire as a haven for toxic behaviour. Carcillo posted a photo from an alleged rookie party where the rookies were forced to wear dresses and drink alcohol while some were still underage. The faces of the players have been blurred out, leaving only their beer toting, dress wearing bodies.
To me, the photo looks suspect. The erased faces could be to protect the identity of the players posing, it may also be to conceal any expressions of amusement, one can’t say for sure.
I played hockey until I was about twelve years old and then quit because that is about the time it all starts to get very serious. I can’t speak first hand about such experiences so it’s hard for me to determine whose side I’m on in all of this. I’m sure the incidents range from a tyrannical, abusive coaches to hypersensitive players upset about the typical masculine and jocular behaviour of jocks. My gut tells me both, and that many heads are about to roll, some that should and some that shouldn’t.
I just hope we won’t all lose our heads in the process and crucify the innocent.
‘Tis the season of the witch hunt and in the era of social media, the concept of dealing with things on a case by case basis seems to be a difficult task to ask of the average Twitter user, who instead make everything black and white.
Time will tell just what’s in store for the nation’s favourite past time.