Carson Babbini | December 20th, 2019
Recently in the NHL news cycle, it seemed that every other day we would hear new allegations about coaching misconduct. Over the course of what seems like months, but in reality, has only been less than a month since the allegations against former Calgary Flames head coach Bill Peters from his days as the head coach of the Rockford Ice Hogs in the AHL. Soon after those allegations came out, more came out against Peters from his days in Carolina. Now accusations have come against former Toronto Maple Leafs head coach Mike Babcock, Chicago Blackhawks assistant coach Marc Crawford, and former Dallas Stars head coach Jim Montgomery. This is a disturbing trend that needs to end. Here are a few reasons why.
After posting about the allegations he had against Bill Peters, former NHL player Akim Aliu said that it affected his mental psyche, and he believes that it affected his ability to make it in the NHL. To quickly recap Aliu’s allegations, the forward said that Peters used racial slurs towards him in the locker room when it came to his choices of music. The main thing that Aliu stressed when he made this incident public was the fact that he was a rookie when this happened, so he didn’t feel comfortable speaking out. If Aliu’s story happened to him, there is a good chance that this sort of mentality can emerge in any player. Whether a rookie or veteran, any player can be put into this kind of situation. An incident like this can stick with a player for a long time and affect their mental health and confidence throughout their careers.
And with this lack in confidence can come a decline in performance. Going back to Aliu, his incident with Peters gave him so little confidence that his performance on the ice declined to the point he was sent down to the ECHL. With the coach being a huge part of the development of a player at any level, any sort of action that a coach makes will stick in a player’s mind and impact his performance. Abuse of this nature can be the most hurtful to a player’s game, in one way or another.
No matter what kind of allegations may come up against a coach, whether it’s racial slurs with Peters, making a rookie make a list of players ranked by work ethic and telling the rest of the team with Mike Babcock, that rookie was Mitch Marner by the way, kicking your players with Marc Crawford, or for an unknown reason with Jim Montgomery, action needs to be taken. The new policy that Commissioner Gary Bettman has put into place will help with that, but it won’t be easy to enforce. The policy itself has a hotline for players and other personnel to call for any coaching misconduct, and that teams will have to report these sorts of incidents immediately. Also involved in the policy will be mandatory training for coaches and front office staff that must be completed each year. While these changes are great, it will remain to be seen how many of them will be effective. The fact that these allegations took this long to come out about these coaches is something that won’t easily be fixed, but it certainly is a step in the right direction.
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