, 10.11.2022 04:57 PM

My latest: hockey blight in Canada

Three hockey truths.

One, our kids are never going to play in the NHL.

Two, it’s just a game.

Three, our kids are never ever going to play in the NHL.

I’ve got four kids, three boys and a girl. All of them played hockey. I spent a lot of time in cold hockey rinks over the years. Those three points above were my motto.

I was one of those hockey Dads who wouldn’t say much. If the kids scored a goal, I’d clap. If the team needed a sponsor, I’d be it.  If someone needed a ride, on either team, I’d give it.

Every once in a while, I’d be standing beside a Dad, or a Mom, who was not setting a good example. You know: the parents who would scream at the kids, or the officials, or the coaches. The ones who thought their little angel was going to play in the NHL. The jerks.

So, I’d sidle up beside the loud parents – I stand 6’5” in my Doc Martens, and I usually was wearing a biker jacket and a punk rock T-shirt with an offensive band name on it – and I’d quietly remind them of the three points above. They’d look a bit uneasy. Then I’d move on.

The people who ran Hockey Canada – now blessedly gone – remind me of those parents. Hanging out in rinks, bossing people around, clueless about the harm they were causing: that was the leadership at Hockey Canada.

The loud parents and the ex-execs at Hockey Canada share one other character flaw, too: they were apparently always willing to excuse, and cover up, any and all sorts of misconduct. Because, they thought, they were sending the kids to the big show.

Except they weren’t. Instead, they were teaching the kids – young males, almost entirely – that any type of wrongdoing, even criminal, was fine. As long as they were devoted to the game.

As noted, however: it’s just a dumb game. Hell, it’s not even Canada’s game anymore.  No Canadian team has won the Stanley Cup since 1993. So much for the national pride exemption.

It’s a game, Mom and Dad. It’s a game, Hockey Canada white-washers. It’s a game mainly for kids. Chasing a lump of vulcanized rubber across frozen ponds with some wooden sticks.

The bad parents, and the bad Hockey Canada execs, lost sight of that. They believe and believed they are/were on some higher mission. That they were in pursuit of some higher divine purpose, all truth and decency be damned.

But, but. When the boy-men start to get charged criminally with sexual assault and assault and gang rape, will the bad parents and the bad Hockey Canada people wake up from their infantile fantasy on skates? Probably not.

If you are willing to overlook rape, and gang rape, you’ll probably forgive anything. But at that point, you’re not just a hockey Mom or Dad or more. You’re not just an executive who has selflessly devoted yourself to the national game.

You’re beneath contempt, and you don’t belong near any hockey rink, hurting some kids who are just trying to have fun – chasing a but of vulcanized rubber and a dream of new friends and laughter.


  1. Ron Benn says:

    Thank you, Warren. Thank you for finally bringing the parents of these children into the discussion about responsibility. Did any of the parents ever have a conversation with their son(s) about responsible behaviour off ice? About how even if the young lady in question is willing and capable of consent (major topic), she still deserves respect? About how sex is not a team building event?

  2. Need to tear it down and start again! Too many old guys running the show. Represent all players not just the elite. The grass roots is where it’s at! You nailed it Warren!

  3. Sean says:

    Well said.

    I was listening to Steve Simmons on a podcast the other day. I think he is a hockey dad much in tune with Warren. He mentioned how Hockey Canada is focused *way* too much on the elite athlete / rep / travel clubs and not enough on the average kid just playing to have fun / experience the sport.

    There needs to be a lot more of that. The amateur game is far too much about *paying money* and *making money* rather than sportsmanship, teamwork, fun, exercise, socializing etc. which is what all youth sports should be about. If Hockey Canada wants to repair itself, this is where it should start.

    • Steve T says:

      Spot on. One relatively-simple way to change the focus is to apply money equally to all players.

      If there is $1m of funding, and 10,000 players, then the allocation is $100 per player. Period. Doesn’t matter if it is an elite player on the cusp of an NHL career, or some kid playing shinny on a rink in Nowhere-ville, Manitoba. Same allocation of dollars for every player.

      For those kids who want to pursue the NHL, they and their parents can figure out how to raise the extra funds. As you point out, WK, we aren’t trying to increase the ranks of heart surgeons or ER nurses. So streamlining people towards hockey careers is not a goal for the country or the hockey organizing bodies. There is no “greater good” at play here.

      Just let the kids play the game, and those who want to go further can do it on their own nickel.

  4. Reg says:

    Casey Cizikas. Manny Castillo. There are all kinds of things that get “overlooked” if you are a budding hockey star as a teenager.

  5. Pipes says:

    1972-My professor wrote “The Death of Hockey”. I strongly suggest you read it. A great book considering it was 50 years ago.

  6. the salamander says:

    from ‘the box’ .. your old stomping grounds ..
    6:30 AM .. ‘crisp breeze’ off the lake

    The kids were stoked.. just to wear the Team Sweater
    This was ‘the NHL’ to them.. at that time
    Those ‘kids’ are mid 30’s now.. Beachers

    My kid was a better goalie than me.. by far
    Ted Reeve house league Coaches wanted him
    for the most obvious reasons

    Played ANY position.. was not a ‘star’
    Never missed a game
    & scored most of his goals edge of crease
    No.. he did not ‘dangle’ .. his foot size astonishing
    Swim Coaches wanted his size 14 outboard motors
    and Bronze Level – Life Guard cred

    His hockey career put mine to shame
    as I grew up in Wellington County, on a farm
    Cattle in the barn & deer in the fields
    were my team .. (still are + plus The LEAFS)

    Dylan had GIRLS on his team.. the horror !

    Pretty cool how these kids turned out..
    these are ELITE kids – now ADULT parents
    veterans of The Box & Ted Reeve Arena
    & Play It Again Sports !

    To me – they define Elite..
    ie – they love the game ..
    so did I .. so DO I !


  7. Robert White says:

    I played local hockey with Jim Peplinski throughout my formative years of playing neighbourhood hockey in Ottawa’s Riverside Park South leagues.

    Pepples was NHL Captain of the Calgary Flames and he won a Stanley Cup. Pepples could not skate worth a damn when he first started playing with the Riverside Park South local kids like myself and countless others.
    He persisted and made the Toronto Marleys and then he was drafted NHL.

    Jim’s dad Mr. Peplinski sharpened skates for all the neighbourhood kids and was instrumental in terms of supporting Jim in his goals to go pro NHL.

    Never tell a Peplinski kid that he isn’t going to make it to the NHL.


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