So it’s true what they say: Hockey is for everyone.
And that includes young men like Logan Mailloux, a newly minted member of the Montreal Canadiens fellowship whose baggage includes a sex-related crime.
And it includes the Chicago Blackhawks, whose ownership/management/players spent the past decade covering up a sex crime and verbal gay-bashing for which no individual has been held accountable, let alone punished.
And it includes Auston Matthews who, two years ago, got together with some buddies and thought it would be a swell idea to swill beer and frighten a female security guard on a dark street at 2 o’clock in the morning. When she failed to find any humor in their booze-fueled boorish behavior, the Toronto Maple Leafs centre dropped his trousers to his ankles, bent over and mooned her. Many in mainstream media wrote it off as nothing more heinous than frat-boy hijinks.
Yes, hockey is for everyone.
Except the victims, of course. They are mostly faceless and nameless inconveniences. If their identities are revealed, they’re forgotten in less time than it takes to sharpen a pair of skates.
We know a former Blackhawks player has accused one-time video coach Brad Aldrich of sexual assault, but we only know him as John Doe 1. We know Logan Mailloux took and illegally shared pics of a young Swedish woman giving him oral sex, but she’s a mystery. If anyone remembers the name of Matthews’ victim, move to the head of the class.
But, hey, we don’t need to know anything about Fayola Dozithee and the fallout from L’Affaire Matthews, because young Auston pulled up his pants, delivered a mea culp and he’s become the National Hockey League’s leading goal-scorer. The Rocket Richard Trophy is all that matters. The Blackhawks? Until recently, their dirty, little secret was buried beneath the ballyhoo of three Stanley Cup-winning crusades. That tall, shiny trinket is all that matters.
There was a different twist in the Mailloux case. All his victim desired was a sincere apology (she’s still waiting), but the London Knights defenceman seemed to recognize that he is a cad and informed all 32 NHL outfits to remove his name from consideration in this year’s annual auction of teenage talent.
“Being drafted into the NHL is an honor and a privilege that no one takes lightly,” Mailloux tweeted. “The NHL draft should be one of the most exciting landmark moments in a player’s career, and given the circumstances, I don’t feel I have demonstrated strong enough maturity or character to earn that privilege in the 2021 draft. I know it will take time for society to build back the trust I have lost, and that is why I think it is best that I renounce myself from the 2021 NHL Draft and ask that no one select me this upcoming weekend.”
Well, either les Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin missed the memo or something was lost in the English-to-French translation, because he used his first shoutout (31st overall) on Friday night to pluck Mailloux from the pool of teens. Lack of maturity, character and sexism be damned. As long as the guy can fill a need on the blueline, that’s all that matters, right boys?
“He already started to put it behind him,” Bergevin said in explaining his utterly odious, shocking selection and his failure to accurately read the temperature of the room.
What the Habs GM didn’t, wouldn’t or couldn’t tell us is if the victim had “already started” to put it behind her. Whoever she is.
Naturally, Bergevin has been battered fore and aft on social media in the wake of the tone-deaf Mailloux decision, but save some of that tar and a few of those feathers for Habs bankroll Geoff Molson. You don’t make such a radical move without the okie-dokie from the guy sitting in the big desk in the ivory tower.
And that’s not to ignore the London Knights, who will readily and eagerly welcome Mailloux back to the fold, and SK Lejon of the Swedish Division III, who were privy to their defenceman’s trespass yet permitted him to play on.
Hockey, after all, is for everyone, even the creeps.
It’s such a shame, because this should have been a good-news week on the diversity file.
I mean, it was only scant days ago that young Luke Prokop was welcomed warmly as the first openly gay man signed to an NHL contract. The scandal-plagued Blackhawks are giving females in their hockey department prominent face time during this weekend’s entry draft. The new kids on the block, Seattle Kraken, trotted out pro scout Cammi Granato to name one of their selections in the expansion grab bag. And Kevin Weekes, a Black man, has been prominent on ESPN entry/expansion draft coverage.
It appeared that the men’s game was, at long last, following the plot.
Then along came Molson and Bergevin, who were “proud” to recruit a guy guilty of serious wrong-doing, a crime that once again devalued and victimized a woman.
But, hey, that’s men’s hockey. Always caught with its pants down.