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Babcock’s Aftermath, Akim’s Courage and More Concussions

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Your Thursday Links, News and Notes

Calgary Flames v Chicago Blackhawks Photo by Bill Smith/NHLI via Getty Images

When Mike Babcock got fired last week, we all expected the Toronto Maple Leafs to turn a corner, because that’s what usually happens, and then they’d find a new scapegoat a few losses later. However, what started with a report on the mishandling of then rookie Mitch Marner with “the list” ended up opening a door for coaches’ abuse stories that doesn’t seem to be calming down anytime soon.

  • The most prevalent story to come out after several players commented on their dislike of Babcock was that of his former colleague Bill Peters. According to Akim Aliu, when Peters was coaching the AHL’s Rockford Ice Hogs, he was subjected to racial slurs by his coach regarding his music taste. I just want to state that I think what Akim Aliu is doing takes a lot of courage for someone who feels he couldn’t reach his full potential because of the abuse. For those questioning his timing, when you’re a victim and afraid for your (and others’) career, it’s a lot more difficult to come out publicly with this information.

In another instance, former Carolina Hurricanes defensemen Michal Jordan accused Peters of using physical force via a tweet he made this week. Both allegations have been confirmed by other players including current Hurricanes coach Rod Brind’Amour. Between the junior hazing stories and the current onslaught of bad coaching situations, it is becoming clearer that hockey culture may not really be progressing in the direction we had or hoped for. Coaches are supposed to be mentors, they are meant to be the support system for these players and guide them. When a player, especially a young one, is faced with a coach that mentally and/or physically abuses them, it is impossible for them to truly succeed in this league. This is all unsettling but at this point, extremely necessary for any change in this league and in sports culture in general.

  • Bill Peters has allegedly been getting away with years of abusing players in some form or another but has his time come? The Calgary Flames are still investigating the matter before making a final decision, which should be an easy dismissal one. The team is in a tough spot and going through the process is understandable as long as the end result is the right decision. It seems Peters is attempting to save his job with this public apology letter to the Flames GM and organization, but if anything it seems to have lowered his stock even further in the public eye as it lacks any form of sincerity or accountability. The least he could have done was to acknowledge his victims. He did not even mention Aliu’s name nor did he address Jordan’s physical abuse allegations made towards him. TSN’s Frank Seravalli was quick to point out this glaring discrepancy in Peter’s “apology”:
  • On Monday, Brandon wrote about the concerning number of concussions in the league so far. You can add another big name player to that list, Rasmus Dahlin. It was announced yesterday that Dahlin will be out indefinitely after getting an elbow from Tampa Bay Lightning’s Erik Cernak. While a suspension was handed down for the elbow, one has to worry about Dahlin’s future risk of more concussions. Concussions seem to be an issue for debate every season yet not much is ever done. Whether it’s equipment changes, stricter punishments or a complete change in the style of play; I’m not sure if the concussion problem is going to be resolved anytime soon. In the meantime, let’s hope the NHL at least does what’s required to help these player properly recover.
  • Hockey legend Hayley Wickenheiser provided us all with hope that Women’s hockey may be on its way for big changes. In an article by CBC, Wickenheiser stated that she is extremely optimistic about the NHL’s involvement in a newly developed women’s league:

“I see it as possible: four to six teams probably based in the eastern part of Canada and in the U.S., just for money and geography. And I think it’ll happen. I actually think it will happen within the next year or two. So we’ll see, but it’s really the next way to elevate the women’s game outside of the Olympics, because people need to see the women play more often.”