Hockey Costs

Erasing disgraced OHL star’s record book won’t help hockey culture: experts

“It just seems like a very dumb public relations decision to me: ‘Let’s just pretend that person was never there. “”

Content of the article

Erasing former star Reid Boucher from their record books after his conviction for sexually abusing a young girl is a missed opportunity for the Sarnia Sting to confront hockey’s history of abuse, experts say.

Advertising

Content of the article

“You can play the ostrich on this one, but it’s not going to go away,” said Peter Donnelly, a University of Toronto professor emeritus who specializes in sports politics and politics.

Boucher, 28, is awaiting sentencing after pleading guilty in a Michigan court to sexually assaulting a 12-year-old girl while staying with her family in 2011. He was 17 at the time and playing for the USA Hockey national team. development program in Ann Arbor.

Soon after, he signed with the Sting and played two seasons in the Ontario Hockey League in Sarnia – setting a franchise record for single-season goals with 62 in 2012-13.

But after his recent guilty plea in the 2011 case, Boucher’s name was removed from the franchise’s list of NHL draft picks on Sting’s website and his scoring record also disappeared. Donnelly says he can’t think of another team erasing a disgraced player from the record books.

Advertising

Content of the article

“The only time I really heard of this stuff was in an old Soviet Politburo where they erased all records and Photoshop dishonored Politburo members from photographs,” he said. “It just strikes me as a very dumb PR move: ‘Let’s just pretend that person was never there.'”

It’s a decision more teams are about to make, he said.

“I suspect that over the next 10 years or so many, many more teams will experience this as survivors of various aspects of abuse finally feel strong enough to come forward and the context of society will improve enough to the point where they feel comfortable,” Donnelly said.

There’s no easy way for the Sting to deal with Boucher’s history with the team, said Mac Ross, an assistant professor at Western University who has studied the social history of sports.

Advertising

Content of the article

“I totally agree with doing what you can to deprive this individual of any glory or accolade associated with your club,” Ross said.

But, he added: “You also don’t want people to forget that it happened. You want to make sure that’s front and center in everyone’s mind because it keeps happening, whether it’s the Chicago Blackhawks situation or even Graham James.

“Throughout history, hockey has had the serious problem of covering the trail of sexual predators. If it’s going to get better, I think we need more transparency in the game.”

Blackhawks player Kyle Beach was allegedly sexually assaulted in 2010 by then-video coach Brad Aldrich, whose name was crossed out on the Stanley Cup. James is a former junior hockey coach who sexually assaulted some of his players, including future NHL players Theo Fleury and Sheldon Kennedy. His coaching stats remain in the Western Hockey League record books.

Advertising

Content of the article

“Time and time again we hear about protected sex offenders in high-level hockey,” Ross said. “In many cases, this means that they have reoffended. This complicity is fueled by several deeply rooted aspects of hockey culture, including the broad celebration of violent behavior and win-at-all-cost attitudes.

Boucher’s assaults took place before he arrived in Sarnia, but the Stings have their own history of abuse. Several Sting players, including two-time Stanley Cup champion Daniel Carcillo, claimed they were assaulted during team hazing activities in the early 2000s, particularly during the 2002-03 season.

Removing Boucher from the record books is ineffective because people still know he was a Sting player, Donnelly said.

Advertising

Content of the article

“The alternative to that – and they could have done that with the hazing case as well – is that those become teachable moments,” he said. “You use them to make changes to the culture of the club, to make it clear what the standards of behavior are, to make it clear to the public that you are responding to this appropriately and constructively rather than trying to sweep it away. under the rug.”

Donnelly said he couldn’t cite any examples of teams using these cases as teachable moments.

“Not yet,” he said. “That means admitting things about your team that a lot of sports teams aren’t ready to admit right now, but I suspect that’s going to start to change. And that’s going to involve a lot of money at some point.

The Stings have a large honor roll on a wall in the Progressive Auto Sales Arena listing major winners, world junior gold medalists and players with 50-goal and 100-point seasons. The team did not say if or when Boucher’s name will be removed there as well.

Advertising

Content of the article

“I’m afraid that by doing this it limits the extent to which hockey takes into account what happened, how this guy slipped through all the cracks and made it to Sarnia in the first place without let no one know he had sexually assaulted a 12-year-old girl multiple times,” Ross said.

Boucher was initially charged with first-degree criminal sexual conduct, which carries a possible 25 years to life in prison, but pleaded guilty Dec. 13 in Washtenaw County District Court to third-degree criminal sexual conduct involving sexual penetration. with an individual between the ages of 13 and 16, according to the Detroit Free Press.

As part of the plea deal, he will not receive an initial prison sentence. Since the offense was committed when he was a minor, the conviction will not appear on his criminal record if he has served his sentence. The sentencing hearing is scheduled for January 31.

Advertising

Content of the article

Boucher was evicted from his Ann Arbor home in March 2011 after a relative of the victim’s friend learned of the allegations and turned himself in to USA Hockey.

USA Hockey spokesman Dave Fischer said no charges were laid at the time, but Boucher was “proactively” kicked out of the house. A month later, Boucher won a gold medal with Team USA at the Under-18 World Championship.

Boucher is now in Russia to play in the Continental Hockey League. He played 133 NHL games with the New Jersey Devils, Nashville Predators and Vancouver Canucks from 2013 to 2018.

After Boucher’s guilty plea was reported by the Detroit Free Press, Sting President Bill Abercrombie and an OHL spokesperson told the Sarnia Observer they were never notified of the allegations. brought against him. Abercrombie did not respond to follow-up questions about Boucher’s erasure from team history.

Advertising

Content of the article

However, Abercrombie also told The Athletic that Sting “will make a statement regarding his accomplishments as soon as all parties involved respond to the recent allegations that have been leveled against Reid.”

The Athletic also reported other unrelated allegations against Boucher from young women after his time in Sarnia. There were no allegations of misconduct by Boucher in Sarnia, “but it’s an even better excuse for them to use it constructively rather than pretending that this person never been with the team,” Donnelly said.

Abercrombie said the Sting will try to find out why the team and the OHL were not made aware of the allegations against Boucher prior to his arrival in Sarnia.

Advertising

Advertising

comments

Postmedia is committed to maintaining a lively yet civil discussion forum and encourages all readers to share their views on our articles. Comments can take up to an hour to be moderated before appearing on the site. We ask that you keep your comments relevant and respectful. We have enabled email notifications. You will now receive an email if you receive a reply to your comment, if there is an update to a comment thread you follow, or if a user follows you comments. Visit our Community Rules for more information and details on how to adjust your E-mail settings.