Hockey culture has been under a microscope over the last few weeks, as past misdeeds of current and former coaches are coming to light.
Some of these allegations are far more serious than others.
Mike Babcock’s incident with Mitch Marner, where he got the young Leafs’ rookie to rank his teammates by their work ethic. That’s a poor motivational tactic, but by no means an incident that would impact his next job in the league.
Now the stuff coming about about Babcock and Johan Fransen during his time with the Detroit Red Wings is a different story entirely. Same goes for Bill Peter’s racially charged incident with Akim Aliu and Patrick O’Sullivan’s allegations against former coach Marc Crawford.
We always hear the phrase “Hockey is a business,” well behave like this in a business and see what happens. You might have a tough time finding employment.
These aren’t issues like “coach benched me so I don’t like him” or “the coach yelled at me and hurt my feelings” — and if that’s what you think, then you are doing a disservice to the game you claim to love so much.
Being a hard ass coach is one thing, but these are targeted acts by a person of power who knew exactly what they were doing. That’s a bully.
Should these result in jail time? Hell no. Should they be banned from the game forever? Hell no, but the people involved need to do SOMETHING that shows they are no longer that person. That’s the biggest issue I have with these past allegations coming to light, is the lack of growth and acknowledgement among the people they’ve been levied upon.
Yes, these things happened years ago, but they happened, it may have been in a “different time” where expectations were not the same as they are today, but they happened.
But you made a mistake, own it, just like you demand of the players you coach.
That is one of my number one demands as a coach, and it’s one of my number one demands in myself as a person. I make mistakes, I own up to them, especially if those mistakes hurt someone else. We should always be reflecting on how our past and current actions are impacting others and make adjustments accordingly.
There are a lot of words and phrases I use to not think twice about using when I was younger, but now knowing what weight they carry, and the hurt they can cause, I changed, I bettered myself.
I firmly believe that we should not be judged by past mistakes, but instead how they react and acknowledge those mistakes. That’s when you see someone’s true character, or lack there of.
If I’m a team looking bring in a new coach, I’m going to think twice about bringing in a guy like Babcock, Crawford or Peters. It doesn’t mean these guys are being blacklisted or anything, but there are so many quality coaches out there, I’d be going with a different candidate for sure.
And no, this does not make them just more victims of the “cancel culture.”
I’m not saying people need to be exiled from the game for any thing that they’ve done in the past that is not up to today’s standards.
That’s not the case. Now if you haven’t learned from those past mistakes, and refuse to take ownership for them. Then yes, the hockey world is better without you in it.
Look at the Toronto Maple Leafs new head coach Sheldon Keefe, who has spent the bulk of his post-playing years trying to work back a reputation he developed in junior hockey.
He owns those mistakes. He spent years coaching in the CCHL, OHL, and AHL, proving to people that he can be trusted as a head coach of a hockey team. This took years.
I think this is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to these past incident.
You can chose to blame a soft society, or entitled hockey players, but until we admit that there may be a problem then this game wont be able to move forward. We should be holding ourselves to higher standards, and push each other to strive and be better.
The game has changed, it’s time some of the people behind it change as well.
We can be better.
Jake’s Take is a weekly editorial comment from Around the OHL Editor Jake Jeffrey. Share your thoughts with Jake on Twitter, or email firstname.lastname@example.org