Calgary minor league hockey kicks off this weekend and the league says it will be keeping a closer eye on a growing problem — taunting.
Hockey Calgary says trash talk is a normal part of the game but last year, some players went too far. There were several incidents of players making racial slurs against other players and the league says that is unacceptable.
"It's not a purely Caucasian sport," said Kevin Kobelka, executive director at Hockey Calgary. "We're seeing a lot more different nationalities playing the game so I think all those things… made (us) sure we got out in front of it and communicated the severity of the penalties."
'It's not a purely Caucasian sport.' - Kevin Kobelka, executive director at Hockey Calgary
For players caught making unacceptable taunts, the league says it can use punishments such as indefinite suspensions from the games.
Indefinite suspensions will typically range from four to 12 games and players could also face a disciplinary hearing at the Hockey Calgary offices.
While many say taunting and trash talk have gotten worse over the years, Hockey Calgary says it has told coaches it's time to crack down.
"You can chirp a guy for falling down or you score a goal and you get lit up by the red light behind you, you can chirp a little bit," said Kobelka.
"When it starts getting into ethnicity and to race and to sexual orientation, that's when we draw the line."