Winnipeg-born hockey players get cut, investigated by teams for comments on group chat
Capitals place Brendan Leipsic on unconditional waivers to terminate $700K deal
A group of Winnipeg-born hockey players connected with a sexist group chat are being either let go from their teams or investigated, after screenshots from the private chat were made public earlier this week.
The Washington Capitals placed Winnipegger Brendan Leipsic on unconditional waivers Friday, saying the team intends to terminate the $700,000 contract he signed in July.
The Florida Panthers are investigating the situation, which involves one of their prospects, Jack Rodewald, 26.
"It has no place in our organization or our great game," a Panthers spokesperson wrote in an email. "We will fully co-operate with the league, the [National Hockey League Players' Association] and the [Professional Hockey Players' Association] to ensure that this matter is handled quickly and appropriately."
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Winnipeg-born Jackson Keane's name appeared in screen shots of the group chat.
Brad Berry, coach for the University of North Dakota's men's hockey team, told CBC News in an emailed statement "we investigated an incident that Jackson [Keane] was a part of, and we have handled the incident internally within our program."
A spokesperson said Keane remains on the team's roster.
Jeremey Leipsic, Brendan Leipsic's younger brother, also was in the chat. He was cut from the University of Manitoba's men's hockey team on Thursday for his involvement.
The men made comments in their chat about different women's online photos, writing things like "oink oink," "she's actually disgusting," and "I honestly hope their fat so I can just degrade them."
The men also insulted other NHL players.
'Stain to the sport'
Peter Woods, executive director of Hockey Manitoba, said the news overshadows the benefits of participating in sports.
"It's bringing up a bit of a stain to the sport, which is very unfortunate," Woods said.
Hockey coaches and parents need to complete the Respect in Sport training, but the same isn't expected of athletes, Woods said.
There is a policy regarding bullying and abuse, he said.
"It's a societal issue, and it's not necessarily a sport issue," Woods said.
"They happen to be members of our community that have come through our programs, but I think it's bigger, beyond that.
"It's maybe unfair that a few have tainted the excellent players that we have come through our program. It's unfortunate that the hockey community is having to defend that when there are so many good things that happen within the community."
'Just not right'
Sport Manitoba, the agency that promotes amateur athletics in Manitoba, said it's been working at a national level to create programming for all athletes focused on behaviour and creating a healthy sport environment.
In this case, director of sport Janet McMahon said the men's comments might come down to "abuse of power."
"They feel that they have power over certain environments and certain people, and I think that power dynamic creates that un-level playing field," said McMahon, adding it's something that needs to be recognized.
"You may be very powerful within the hockey world, but in terms of these kinds of behaviours, they're just not right."