Hockey Headlines

Wednesday, 25 June 2014

Grounded For A Year

CIS hockey normally flies under the radar, but I like to keep my eye on the developments happening in Canadian university hockey. When it was first announced in February that the University of Ottawa was suspending the men's hockey team pending an investigation into what officials called "a serious matter", there were a number of people who thought that the university reacted harshly to a situation where many details were not released. However, University of Ottawa president Allan Rock has now enforced the suspension for the entire 2014-15 season over these allegations of misconduct related to a pending sexual assault investigation from the February incident.

Included in president Rock's statement today was a termination of head coach RĂ©al Paiement, a former NHL player, as Rock stated that Paiement was made aware of the allegations against his team hours after the incident occurred and "devised and imposed measures by himself with respect to the team". That, readers, is a damning statement against Paiement, and it shows that there's still a mentality of "what happens on the road stays on the road". While that may be true for people looking to have a good time, the moment you commit a crime - especially a heinous sexual-based crime - the party is over.

However, Rock wanted to make a clarification on the suspension. "We suspended the program — not the team," Rock said at his press conference. "We know enough to say that what happened there was unacceptable so we're shutting down the program, the coach is being replaced, we're putting new policies and processes in place, and moving forward with a new program."


I have never seen anyone in the college ranks pull apart an entire program, yet Rock is making this happen. In no way am I suggesting this shouldn't have been done after the allegations surfaced and an internal review showed that a cover-up had been initiated. At that point, the program is rotten, and its core needs to be reviewed, replaced, and washed away so that this type of behavior will never surface again for the University of Ottawa. Kudos to president Rock for his courage in fixing what sounds like a major problem that was lurking beneath the surface of the Gee Gees' sports programs.

I also respect the fact that some players want to play and are considering lawsuits, but I don't agree with this stance. I will not paint the entire team as participants in the alleged sexual assault because that's wildly unfair. But, as Rock stated, the entire Gee Gees hockey program is being suspended, not just the men's team. If I were a player, I would want to play too. There's no doubt about that. However, the University of Ottawa has to do right for itself, the students attending the school, the athletes and coaches who represent the school in Ontario and abroad, and the alumni and faculty who have helped the University of Ottawa become one of Canada's best schools. This isn't about suspending a team as much as it is about fixing a program that went bad a long time ago.

It takes stones to tell a hockey program that you're done, but the allegations against the Gee Gees men's hockey team are serious. I'm glad to see that Allan Rock has the stones to fix a program that was seriously derailed. The university was founded on principles that need to be injected into its various programs, and the suspension to correct the deep-rooted problems that were exposed through the investigation shows how much courage and fortitude Mr. Rock has.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

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