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IPv6Freely

Hockey Code of Conduct Discussion

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I'm a bit surprised nobody has posted about this yet, though that could be for a number of reasons. But it's a discussion that we're clearly seeing needs to be had. 

So far we've seen a number of stories on the conduct of Mike Babcock, Bill Peters, and now Marc Crawford has been placed on leave. I'm not going to even try to compare the situations as they are not equal (Babcock asking Marner to rate the effort levels of the veterans, then sharing that info with them is NOT the same as Peters using the N-word and physically abusing players in Carolina) but that doesn't mean they all come from the same general mindset - that it's okay to use your power to physically or emotionally abuse players. And this is by no means an NHL problem, either, though I put it in the NHL section because let's be honest, that's what's making the news right now.

It's a huge shift in what is acceptable conduct in hockey, from the top levels of the NHL, all the way down to the guys coaching squirt or pee-wee. 

My first thought is "screw them all", but then I think about where does that line actually get drawn? Are we going to hear about every single time a coach physically abused a player in a sport where getting angry at an opponent gives you almost free reign to do things that would be assault anywhere else? Do we give coaches who have passed away a free pass from bad press? Do we take into consideration that "things were different back then", even referring to more recent examples? Is every complaint from a former player about being punched or being hazed going to result in a firing? I hope there is some middle ground in there somewhere. 

I don't want to sound like I'm defending any of these guys either, I just think some common sense needs to come into play but I don't have any answers as far as what common sense even is in this case. 

One more thing I want to mention - for those who are saying things like "why did it take 10 years to say something?"... keep in mind that in many cases these are fringe pros and the coach can literally make or break somebody's entire career. They have THAT much power. And again, that's power they hold over players starting from a very young age group. It's fair to say some of these guys decided that they would probably be ignored and even worse have their careers destroyed. Though, in some cases I'm sure it's going to be a valid question. 

I don't know... it's obviously an extremely complex situation with a lot of nuances. I'm curious to see where it goes, and whether we as a society of hockey players, fans, coaches, and parents can make improvements on the way the game is handled moving forward. 

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Howdy,

I think it was the Chiclets podcast where I first heard about the need for respect... To me, that's really where the line is.

Peters probably would have been fine if he'd respected Aliu enough to recognize that he'd offended him with his choice of words, then apologized and meant it, for instance.

Hockey is a sport where you're occasionally just this side of assault on the ice, then an hour later you're shaking a guy's hand and congratulating him on a well fought game.  I think, done correctly, that's what respect means.  Heat of the moment, wires cross, and you lose it?  What determines if that was over the line or not is what happens after that.  When you've got time to think / reflect.

That said, I think some stuff is too far over the line, even in the heat of the moment.  A coach legitimately unable to control their reactions to a game situation / mistake well enough to stop from kicking/punching a player?  Hard to walk that one back.  Using overtly racist language?  Unacceptable.

Its going to be interesting if this keeps building or not.  Its also going to be interesting if it builds to a point where things like the casual misogyny that's so common becomes unacceptable.  Or I guess a better way to say that is it'll be interesting to see how fast it builds.  Its going to build... That much is clear.

Mark

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1 hour ago, IPv6Freely said:

I'm a bit surprised nobody has posted about this yet, though that could be for a number of reasons. But it's a discussion that we're clearly seeing needs to be had. 

So far we've seen a number of stories on the conduct of Mike Babcock, Bill Peters, and now Marc Crawford has been placed on leave. I'm not going to even try to compare the situations as they are not equal (Babcock asking Marner to rate the effort levels of the veterans, then sharing that info with them is NOT the same as Peters using the N-word and physically abusing players in Carolina) but that doesn't mean they all come from the same general mindset - that it's okay to use your power to physically or emotionally abuse players. And this is by no means an NHL problem, either, though I put it in the NHL section because let's be honest, that's what's making the news right now.

It's a huge shift in what is acceptable conduct in hockey, from the top levels of the NHL, all the way down to the guys coaching squirt or pee-wee. 

My first thought is "screw them all", but then I think about where does that line actually get drawn? Are we going to hear about every single time a coach physically abused a player in a sport where getting angry at an opponent gives you almost free reign to do things that would be assault anywhere else? Do we give coaches who have passed away a free pass from bad press? Do we take into consideration that "things were different back then", even referring to more recent examples? Is every complaint from a former player about being punched or being hazed going to result in a firing? I hope there is some middle ground in there somewhere. 

I don't want to sound like I'm defending any of these guys either, I just think some common sense needs to come into play but I don't have any answers as far as what common sense even is in this case. 

One more thing I want to mention - for those who are saying things like "why did it take 10 years to say something?"... keep in mind that in many cases these are fringe pros and the coach can literally make or break somebody's entire career. They have THAT much power. And again, that's power they hold over players starting from a very young age group. It's fair to say some of these guys decided that they would probably be ignored and even worse have their careers destroyed. Though, in some cases I'm sure it's going to be a valid question. 

I don't know... it's obviously an extremely complex situation with a lot of nuances. I'm curious to see where it goes, and whether we as a society of hockey players, fans, coaches, and parents can make improvements on the way the game is handled moving forward. 

Still doesn’t equate, but Babcock did a lot of things in Detroit that are questionable too and bring him closer to Peters than you’d think. It’s partially why I was happy he left in the end (the other being I feel he is overrated as a coach). It’s not like Bowman was a saint in this aspect either, but Babcock just seemed to go over the line, and you’d think with his background in sports psychology he’d understand the effects that concussions can have on ones mindset in his dealings with Franzen, etc. 

 

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Mike Keenan used to treat his players so badly that he famously brought Mark Messier to tears asking him to stop.  Herb Brooks treated his players so badly that it's become lore and almost revered.  Bowman, Sutter, Tortorella.  I'm sure you could add Hitchcock and Nielsen to that list.  I'd bet you could add almost every professional coach to the list at one time or another.  The reality is that these guys are there to get results.  That mostly means motivating players and that usually means being an asshole to them.  Overt racism and overly physical abuse (I'm ok with grabbing a jersey but not punching or kicking) is never acceptable.  This is not ok with kids, or juniors, or college kids because those kids are still learning and developing. They are going to make mistakes, particularly when there is a talent discrepancy.  But when we're talking about professional athletes, not even just professional hockey players, I don't think this behavior is out of the question.  These are guys that are of a level when they are expected to do things a certain way.  There isn't any hand holding or sugar coating with them.  They're past that point in their development.  Top league professional sports are more about execution and motivation than they are about development.  Coaches behave differently to get those things out of players.

It's interesting this is coming up now.  Two weeks ago, I worked an event with a guy that recently retired from the NFL.  He went to LSU while Nick Saban was the coach there.  During downtime, we talked about his time in the league and it turned to talking about Saban because Bama had just lost to LSU.  Nick Saban has the same reputation as Babcock.  He's known as arrogant, abusive, and sometimes mean spirited.  My cousin used to be the writer that covered the Dolphins while Saban was the coach.  He'd tell us stories of tirades that Nick went on to just about everyone. One in particular was when he fired a secretary that had been with the team since it was founded, over 35 years, on the spot because she complimented his haircut.  But this former player, who made it to the NFL, saw Saban as a father figure.  He said Saban was mean and would get on you and yell every time you didn't do what you were supposed to because he expected you to do things right.  He'd slap your helmet and grab your facemask.  He'd send you to sit on the bench and curse at you if he looked over.  But if he did put you back in the game and you made the play right the next time, he was the first person to be there when you got off the field to compliment you.  This guy said that it was the best motivator and confidence builder that he knew his coach had such high expectations that he could deliver.  It made him want to play better and harder.  He said that he was able to handle it and as a result he made it to the NFL.  But a lot of other guys who were talented enough couldn't handle it and didn't reach their full potential.  He felt that Saban was focused on building men and life skills not just football skills because he was teaching these kids to do things the right way, handle adversity, take pride and have confidence in themselves, and to dig deep to achieve a goal.  He felt Saban was his biggest defender and would go out of his way for the guy, even if he had been cursing him out on the sideline earlier that day.  He was always honest, if even overly so, and wanted all of his players to be the best they could be at whatever they did.  So it's interesting to so the contrast.  With all the negative stories about Babcock, I'm wondering if there are guys that felt this way too.

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