This is a column by Shireen Ahmed, who writes opinions for CBC Sports. For more information on CBC Opinion Sectionplease consult the FAQs.
In recent years, hockey news seems to bring less joy than frustration.
Whether it’s Kyle Beach’s history of abuse with the Chicago NHL team, the ongoing controversy at Hockey Canada surrounding allegations of rape by some members of its national junior teams, or Logan Mailloux drafted by the Montreal Canadiens despite his plea not to be considered because of his conviction for sharing sexual photos of a woman without her consent. All of this leaves hockey fans with little encouragement or happiness about the culture that exists.
When Mitchell Miller, 20, was offered a contract by the Boston Bruins last week, there was an immediate angry reaction from fans, media and even players.
At age 14, Miller pleaded guilty to bullying Isaiah Meyer-Crothers, a 14-year-old black college student with developmental disabilities. The details of the assaults are troubling, and equally troubling is the fact that Miller, according to Meyer-Crothers’ mother, has yet to reach out to the family in any meaningful way outside of a court-mandated letter.
It’s something I can’t stop thinking about. Miller’s apparent lack of remorse is troubling. The same goes for pushing a young man back into the hockey spotlight when he may not be ready for it, while re-traumatizing the victim.
That’s what Isaiah Meyer-Crothers’ mom had to say about how the family currently feels about Mitchell Miller. Notably, she points out that her abuse of Isaiah was not just one incident, but years of torture. https://t.co/f7zgpHG4gp
In response to the backlash, Miller’s agent, Eustace King of O2K managementpublished A declaration which mentioned the importance of Loretta Ross’ ideology of « advising not to cancel », which I think is important. Online responses to the statement, however, were scathing, with many pointing out that there was no mention of the victim. And many of the organizations cited in the statement as working with Miller have publicly disapproved of that being the case.
Finally, on Sunday, Bruins president Cam Neely announced the organization had rescinded its offer to Miller and admitted on Monday that the team had « dropped the ball » by properly controlling it and not consulting with the Meyer family. -Crothers.
« That’s a great question, » Neely said when asked why the team hadn’t contacted the family. « Something I need to find out. »
This is a terrible situation and for those who really want to see Miller have a chance to work and improve and really make amends with Meyer-Crothers, the hockey community and himself. How can this 20-year-old be expected to fend for himself in this mess when everyone around him is making such deplorable decisions?
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It gets even more ridiculous when you remember that it has happened before. Yes, my friends, I wrote about this too. In 2020 Arizona Coyotes drafted Miller and just like what happened with the Bruins, they eventually backtracked and waived their rights to him. We find the same errors.
What does this tell us about hockey?
Neely acknowledged that the contract offer was a failure of the organization. But I don’t believe it’s a failure as much as it shows how much hockey players really want to improve the game.
At the same time, there are spaces within hockey that I believe need to be leased. Yes, even in this giant pile of sports doo-doo there have been unprecedented events.
The fact that Bruins players Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand came out against a decision by the front office surprises me. Their public commentary is not something we often see in a sport that thrives on a culture of silence. And I think that definitely provides a model of integrity for fans who pay attention.
« The culture we’ve built here is against that kind of behavior, » Bergeron said. « In this locker room, we’re all about inclusion, diversity, respect. »
Bergeron shows the way players should lead. Speaking truth to power in a complicated and messy situation.
If the hockey world wants to change the culture and if « Hockey is for Everyone » is truly an anthem we want to embrace, then we need to consider giving people the opportunity to redeem themselves and move on. before.
I’m skeptical of how the powers that be in hockey have enabled the use of redemption arcs – they can be applied unevenly depending on the player. We know that guidance needs to be strengthened. Awareness and understanding need to be deepened.
There are places in hockey where progress is being made. There are exhibitions and other important in-game story collections. Black Girl Hockey Club Canada launches this weekend. There’s Hockey 4 Youth, a Toronto-based organization that brings refugee and racialized youth into the game.
There are spaces where the leadership of women’s football players really makes an impact in small communities across the country. The PWHPA showcase in Truro, Nova Scotia attracted so many fans. And in the Premier Hockey Federation, the Montreal Force, the league’s newest expansion team, won its first game.
There is anti-racism work being done by the Hockey Diversity Alliance and organizations like The Carnegie Initiative and by scholars such as Hockey in society. Conversations are difficult and uncomfortable, but necessary.
So there is hope and there is promise. Nothing is perfect, but the intention to do good in the hockey space is real. This is something that professional hockey lacks.
Part of me hopes that Miller really takes the time and gets the proper guidance to work his way to a place that understands how evil manifests and how it can be mitigated. But like many fans, I don’t trust the leaders or decision makers of hockey right now.
But I have faith in the wider hockey community.
In the meantime, I will focus my attention and take the lead on organizations, teams, and individuals who bond and use their public trust, accountability, and integrity to truly eliminate toxicity in the game.