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Hockey executives respond to hazing and abuse allegations

A stock image of a hockey stick and some pucks (Pexels/Tima Miroshnichenko) A stock image of a hockey stick and some pucks (Pexels/Tima Miroshnichenko)

Junior hockey executives are answering tough questions about hazing and allegations of extreme abuse in hockey.

Canadian Hockey League President Dan MacKenzie insists the culture of silence within the sport is no longer acceptable.

“This notion that, ‘What happens in the locker room stays in the locker room,’ is outdated," said Mackenzie. "We need to make sure what happens in the locker room is viewed to make sure everyone is protected.”

This comes in the wake of allegations made by former junior players in sworn affidavits submitted to an Ontario Supreme Court.

Players allege they were tortured and assaulted -- sometimes sexually -- by their teammates and team staff.

The Ontario and Quebec Major Junior Hockey Leagues have both announced new sensitivity training programs.

“To make sure that we give every opportunity and tools to the players in code, and see what they have to say,” said QMJHL Commissioner Gilles Courteau.

Bryce Swan, who played for the Amherst Ramblers and Halifax Mooseheads, was not hazed.

"But I’ve heard horror stories," said Swan, who knows players who endured hazing. “Do I believe those things would happen? I would say yes.”

Swan said he was exposed to strong leaders in hockey, like former Mooseheads owner Bobby Smith, who helped create a safe hockey environment.

“Plus Shawn MacKenzie, Marcel Pateneau, Al MacAdam and Cam Russell," said Swan. "They were great and they assured that none of this happened.”

McGill University, with its own troubled past involving hazing, has offered its views on the issue.

"To make sure that there is a clear understanding of what is an inappropriate initiation practice," said McGill's Fabrice Labeau. “The student athletes on one hand, the coaches and everyone who is around the sport at McGill.”

McGill University's hazing policy defines hazing as:

  • tattooing
  • head shaving
  • piercing
  • branding
  • paddling
  • whipping
  • beating
  • kicking

In short, Labeau basically said there is no such thing as acceptable hazing and these defined standards apply to everyone.

These recent allegations of hazing and extreme abuse come three years after former NHL player Dan Carcillo joined a group of ex-junior players, who alleged they endured hazing, bullying, harassment, physical and sexual abuse from their teammates, team staff and billet families.

Carcillo played for the OHL’s Sarnia Sting in 2002 when he was 17. The athlete said he and approximately 12 other Sting rookies suffered “almost constant abuse for the entire 2002-03 season,” according to the lawsuit.

“During showers, rookies were required to sit in the middle of the shower room naked while the older players urinated, spat saliva and tobacco chew on them,” the 46-page statement of claim from 2020 says. “At least once, the head coach walked into the shower room while this was occurring, laughed and walked out.”

A judge rejected approving the abuse lawsuit as Class Action but suggested an alternate path forward for Carcillo's group. Top Stories

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