A group of Winnipeg-born hockey players connected to a private, sexist group chat are being let go from their teams after screenshots from the 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.”
The University of North Dakota said in an email that it is investigating one of its hockey players — Jackson Keane — whose name appears as a participant in the group chat.
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.”
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