As much as we’d like to ignore the unpleasant truths about hockey and enjoy the game on its own, we live in critical times and can’t close our eyes to the things that make us uncomfortable. With that in mind, most of the news around hockey this week will probably bum you out but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t talk about it. We still get to spend a disproportionate amount of time breaking down the nuts and bolts of the game and while I’d love to write about those topics instead, let’s review the important stories around the sport this week:
- We already know that Winnipeg Jets general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff won’t join Stan Bowman and Joel Quenneville in their ignominy for withholding their knowledge regarding the Chicago sexual abuse case, and Cheveldayoff delivered a predictably hollow apology, stating that he assumed the checks and balances in place would protect Kyle Beach and that he felt best to leave the situation in the hands of those ranking above him. Winnipeg’s ownership also provided their vote of confidence in Cheveldayoff going forward. Even those trying their best to defend Cheveldayoff can’t discount the sense of incompetence he has chosen to hide behind in place of accountability.
- Commissioner Gary Bettman defended the decision not to discipline Cheveldayoff in a media availability and again failed to reconcile the arbitrary nature of the $2M fine handed to the Chicago organization for the abuse and cover-up while awkwardly mincing words about Quenneville. All told, the loudest voice in the league had little more to express than token remorse for what transpired under his regime.
- Love him or hate him, Robin Lehner loves to say the things that other active players won’t and someone needs to do it. Lehner among other players has pushed for an investigation into the NHLPA’s failure to investigate the abuse in Chicago despite their knowledge years ago. Lehner also wants to advocate for fringe players who don’t have the security to speak up and calls for a collective course of action to rectify these patterns of abuse.
- Meanwhile in Pittsburgh, the Penguins could face legal repercussions for an assault perpetrated by former AHL Wilkes-Barre/Scranton head coach in 2018. The victim (whose spouse’s job security came under threat following the assault) will pursue charges not only against the perpetrator but also Bill Guerin (former general manger in WBS and current general manager of the Minnesota Wild) and Penguins ownership for their failure to act.
- In response to a lawsuit filed last summer by Dan Carcillo among others, the CHL has filed a series of affidavits from former players and managers hoping to dispel reports of abusive ritual hazing in Canadian junior hockey. While last summer’s lawsuit posits that hazing in the CHL crossed the line into physical, sexual, and emotional abuse, these affidavits argue that hazing across the league has remained appropriate and non-threatening. Regarding the timing of the affidavits, Rick Westhead explained the procedures as thus:
The plaintiff’s lawyers say there has been a systemic problem of hazing and abuse and that a judge should approve a motion to proceed with the case as a class action. If that happens, all current and former CHL players would automatically become plaintiffs in the case, except those who decide to opt out.
The CHL, which faced a Monday deadline to respond to the allegations, is using former players like Calder, the parents of one-time players, and team and league officials to portray major junior hockey as a place where most players have had largely positive experiences.
- In New York, after refusing an AHL assignment by the Rangers, Vitali Kravtsov will return to the KHL for the balance of the regular season. It turns out, lots of teams have their own iteration of the Logan Brown saga.
- In Nashville, the Predators will retire the jersey number of Pekka Rinna (35), making him the first in franchise history to earn the distinction. Can we get justice for David Legwand trending?
- And finally, to end on a positive note, and one close to home, Drake Batherson earned player of the week honours around the NHL for his six-point run, punctuated with his first NHL hat trick.