News Blog: Time for hockey to change its culture of over-aggression

Three cheers to the Canadian Broadcast Standards Council, which ruled Wednesday that a Montreal radio station host violated the Canadian Association of Broadcasters’ Code of Ethics when he suggested the Montreal Canadiens should use egregious violence as a strategy to win hockey games.

Speaking with his co-host about the Habs’ lack of reaction to opponents interfering with their goalie, CKAC-AM talk show host Ron Fournier suggested that, after the second instance of future goalie interference, the Canadiens should (and this is a translation) “break (a) stick on the back of the (opposing) player’s neck. […] You cross-check him in the back of the head and he ends up with his face in the glass enclosure or in the ice!”

A ridiculous comment, to be sure. But it’s also one that hardly is rare among certain circles in the hockey community. Recall, if you will, when Sidney Crosby was still playing junior hockey and scored an astounding, lacrosse-type goal, then celebrated it.

A few very famous hockey people lambasted the then-16-year-old, including the expected as well as some NHLers now seen as progressive types – such as Brendan Shanahan, who told the CBC he’d go after the head of any player who had the audacity to be that creative and genuinely happy on the ice.

That, and countless other examples, show you Fournier doesn’t deserve all the condemnation here. His attitude is symptomatic of a sadly pervasive, warped machismo mindset that dictates the game be played at its highest levels by joyless, revenge-obsessed men with a set of rules above and beyond the actual rulebook.

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You’d like to think Wednesday’s ruling might give pause to other media outlets – and perhaps even the NHL itself – that glorifies and promotes wanton aggression and sideshow shenanigans. But the truth is, most of them have pandered to the lowest common denominator for decades and don’t have the philosophical courage to switch gears now.

The best that can come of this news would be if the Canadian Broadcast Standards Council turns its attention to some of the more notable nonsense-disseminators in the hockey community and ream them out to the same degree.

Only then might we see the beginnings of base-level sportsmanship return to a sport that has lacked it for too long.

Adam Proteau is The Hockey News’ online columnist and a regular contributor to His blog appears Mondays and Wednesdays, his Ask Adam feature appears Tuesdays in the summer, and his column, Screen Shots, appears Thursdays.

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