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Toxic Masculinity on Full Display in Winnipeg’s Hockey Culture

Photo by Bruce Bennett

Toxic Masculinity on Full Display in Winnipeg’s Hockey Culture

The professional hockey scene in Winnipeg hit an all-time low Wednesday evening, as an Instagram group chat consisting of 10 prominent hockey figures ranging from Manitoba Major Junior Hockey League players to National Hockey League professionals was exposed to the public.

The 10-member conversation with players aged 22 to 26 years old included Brendan Leipsic (Washington Capitals), Jack Rodewald (Florida Panthers), Jackson Keane (University of North Dakota), Jeremey Leipsic (University of Manitoba), Warren Callis (University of Manitoba), Jordyn Boyd (University of Manitoba), Spencer Tremblay (Waywayseecappo Wolverines), Brandon Lauder (Portage Terriers), Tyler Morwick (Charleswood Hawks), and Travis Brown (Moose Jaw Warriors).

Amongst a landslide of various other undertones, this colossally immature conversation included degrading remarks towards teammates and opponents, comments relating to the outward appearance of many young local women, sexual fantasies and judgements cast upon said targets (AKA ‘kills’), along with continual verbiage around the topic of weight gain, body composition/image and heavily opinionated general hatred.

Dating back to at least August of 2019, the conversation – seemingly led by Brendan Leipsic and Jordyn Boyd – included Leipsic taking shots at ex-teammates Jake Virtanen and his ‘crew’, Tanner Pearson’s pregnant wife, league heavyweight and current teammate Tom Wilson, linemates Nic Dowd and Garnet Hathaway, NHL superstar Connor McDavid and fellow Manitoban Jett Woo – all on the topic of their significant others.

The group chat screenshots were revealed off of Brandon Lauder’s Instagram profile and posted publicly on Twitter and Instagram Wednesday evening. The immediate reaction spread like wildfire, causing significant uproar within Winnipeg and the hockey community as a whole.

The Washington Capitals issued the following comment: “We are aware of the unacceptable and offensive comments made by Brendan Leipsic in a private conversation on social media. We will handle this matter internally.” While the Florida Panthers echoed that statement with a comment of their own: “These actions have no place in our organization or our great game. We will cooperate fully with the league and the NHLPA to ensure this matter is handled quickly and appropriately.”

The NHL released its own statement shortly after the screenshots went public:

“The National Hockey League strongly condemns the misogynistic and reprehensible remarks made by players Brendan Leipsic and Jack Rodewald in a private group chat that has surfaced on social media. There is no place in our League for such statements, attitudes and behavior, no matter the forum. We will address this inexcusable conduct with the clubs and players involved.”

Roughly two hours after publicity began, Brendan Leipsic deleted his Instagram account and locked down his Twitter profile, only after offering up a screenshot of some prepared text in the form of a ‘public statement’ on the matter. It read:

“Yesterday my friend’s Instagram account was hacked and an individual circulated images that are representative of private conversations I was a part of,” the statement read. “I fully recognize how inappropriate and offensive these comments are and sincerely apologize to everyone for my actions. I am committed to learning from this and becoming a better person by taking time to determine how to move forward in an accountable, meaningful way. I am truly sorry.”

Leipsic, 25, of Winnipeg, signed a one-year, $700K deal with the Washington Capitals this past summer, following four years in which he dressed for the Toronto Maples Leafs, Vegas Golden Knights, Vancouver Canucks and Los Angeles Kings. Leipsic put up three goals and 11 points in 61 games for Washington in 2019-20.

Rodewald, 26, also of Winnipeg, has split the 2019-20 season between the American Hockey League’s Belleville Senators and Springfield Thunderbirds, where he has five goals, 16 points and 25 penalty minutes in 49 games. He has suited up for 10 total NHL games with Ottawa over the past three seasons where he has failed to register a single point.

Hockey culture can be wonderfully amazing, while it can also be horrifically misogynistic. Many of these deviations along the ‘average’ plot-line hillock stem from the individuals involved, their upbringing, and close circle of friends/acquaintances. Despite all socioeconomic factors, engaging in any form of bullying, hazing, teasing or name-calling is a personal choice. Nowadays, with the help of technology, smartphones and social media, seemingly ‘private’ decisions can very easily come back to haunt individuals, as was the case with this Instagram group chat.

Currently, only severe instances of racism, sexism, masochism, and masculinity in hockey have tended to shine through, while less extortionate occurrences of this kind of behaviour often get ignored. When will the NHL and its lesser equivalents get it right? What is appropriate punishment?

Although the responsibility of teaching one to be ‘kind’ may fall more on the shoulders of parents/guardians, one would expect that 22 to 26-year-old individuals would have the wherewithal to know the negative connotations behind body-shaming (amongst various other despicable acts) and be proactive in addressing these problematic components at their respective roots.

The 2019-20 NHL season saw three head coaches lose their jobs for reasons other than failing to win hockey games. Mike Babcock (Toronto Maple Leafs), Jim Montgomery (Dallas Stars) and Bill Peters (Calgary Flames) each had their ticket called following various behaviour-related actions/decisions deemed detrimental to their respective team’s core values.

Hockey Night in Canada also fired longtime ‘Coach’s Corner’ co-host Don Cherry over comments deemed hurtful and unnecessary regarding Canada’s diverse population and the usage of poppies in downtown Toronto. Jess Allen of CTV’s The Social also spoke out passionately about her experience of hockey players being predominantly ‘white boys who are not very nice’.

Furthermore this season, NHL analyst Jeremy Roenick lost his job for comments made on one of Dave Portnoy’s Barstool Sports podcasts. That same ‘Spittin’ Chiclets’ podcast – featuring the likes of Paul Bissonette, Ryan Whitney, etc. – often brings about vulgar, misogynistic frat-boy culture, much along the lines of Barstool’s leading female sex and dating podcast, ‘Call Her Daddy’, where its co-hosts Alexandra Cooper and Sofia Franklyn openly justify hookup culture and toxic romance, in turn, pushing back the many, recent steps taken in the forward movement for women’s equality.

Last season Maple Leafs defenceman Morgan Rielly found himself in hot water after being accused of using a homophobic slur in game (which was later deemed illegitimate as it was really the combination of a hockey term and a bad microphone position, leading to what sounded like a slur). Earlier in the 2018-19 season, seven members of the Ottawa Senators were caught on camera in a taxi cab bashing their teammates, coaches and other close members while under CCTV.

Despite the immediate reactions from the Washington Capitals, Florida Panthers and the National Hockey League, further discipline may not occur for any of the other participants in this leaked online group chat. Public shaming, however, will most certainly continue until this sort of behaviour comes to an end.

Early Thursday afternoon, University of Manitoba Athletic Director Gene Miller issued a statement to Paul Friesen of the Winnipeg Sun indicating Jeremey Leipsic’s release from the Bisons hockey program.

“Respect and integrity are core values of our Bison Sports community and as a result of this situation, we have taken the action to release the current student-athlete from the program,” the statement read. “We condemn any such remarks and attitudes as they are offensive, reprehensible and have absolutely no place in sport or in our programs.”

Carter Brooks - Associate Editor of Game On Magazine - is a news writer and sports columnist situated in Winnipeg, MB. On top of reading and writing, coaching hockey is his favourite pastime. Carter can be reached at carterbrooks1994@gmail.com

27 Comments

27 Comments

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  4. Mac Shred

    May 7, 2020 at 7:18 pm

    “Colossally immature”

    You are some kind of cowardly, snivelling fink. What are you guilty of exactly? This is straight up virtue signalling to the lowest level; it just makes me think you are desperately trying to cover for your own unexposed unsavoury behaviour.

    Who cares what some young men said in a PRIVATE CHAT. What is it of your business or anyone else’s? This is what “journalism” is? I would argue that because of you journalism is one step closer to “An all-time low”.

    Reading your emotionally charged, clearly resentful, hysterical hissy fit has made me lose brain cells. That someone could be so obtuse to think this was worthy of putting other human beings on blast for having conversations THAT WE ALL HAVE. We do, we all say things behind closed doors that others might fight TRIGGERING, this just makes you a hypocrite.

    • fcw1120

      May 7, 2020 at 9:57 pm

      You’re the one that sounds triggered. How awful to admit you also have these same conversations.

    • Mac Shred

      May 7, 2020 at 9:58 pm

      So, you have never said anything behind closed doors that others might be offended by? Ever? Not once? In today’s hyper sensitive world with all the trigger warnings and safe spaces you have managed to refrain from saying something naughty?

      Are you a hypocrite or a liar?

      Look I get it, you are resentful. Some highly successful athletes said some bad words so now you get to virtue signal with one hand and with the other hand you get to stick it to some guys that make you feel inferior. They are successful athletes, while you pander to snowflakes LOL

    • Amy Jones

      May 8, 2020 at 12:05 am

      You need to have brain cells to lose them, Mac, and it sounds like you were sorely lacking in the first place.

  5. misa.betik

    May 7, 2020 at 9:12 pm

    This is so unbelievably whiny it’s hilarious! who actually cares?

  6. misa.betik

    May 7, 2020 at 9:13 pm

    This is so unbelievably whiny it’s hilarious! who actually cares? omg people talk shit how dare they in this snowflake world

    • fcw1120

      May 7, 2020 at 9:56 pm

      Lol. So many people care. This is going to be around for a while since there is nothing else to talk about.

    • Amy Jones

      May 8, 2020 at 12:06 am

      I’m guessing you care, since you posted your comment twice.

      I was waiting for “snowflake” to come up. Yawn…get some new material, please.

      • brennan boyd

        May 8, 2020 at 5:29 pm

        Just and FYI not every guy talks like this with their bro’s. This type of chat bragging about sleeping with the same girls as each other And desperately texting each other to find “pussy” is generally reserved for insecure guys who have to feed their ego and clearly the people in this chat are in the same boat as these hockey bro dudes. Guys who were raised well and actually respect women do get laid and don’t need to brag to their small dicked friends. Amy Jones, I wonder if you’re one of the girls the talk about and all “smash”. Or maybe you’re so desperate for attention you’d happily be degraded by a bunch of loser guys. Lol.

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  11. Jeremy Osachoff

    May 8, 2020 at 12:09 pm

    I don’t think you can put all these boys in the same category. Half of them had nothing to do with the terrible comments. It’s like saying you have a friend who killed someone so you should be guilty too. I’m not sure why you have to drag down all of them?

  12. Pingback: Capitals waive Brendan Leipsic, will terminate contract after vulgar messages leaked on social media – Tech News

  13. prairieminded

    May 8, 2020 at 4:05 pm

    Agreeing with Osachoff, read the stuff out there and some of the guys you list didn’t say anything at all. If you were serious about this issue, instead of sticking it to some “acquaintances” Let’s throw these boys to the wolves as examples while you secretly delete your group chats, messages. Remember high school, this goes on all the time. Time to take a look at the bigger picture instead of the cheap shots.You seem a little too eager to throw them under the bus. Sad this is how you are grabbing your 15 minutes….

    • Bentley DuBois

      May 8, 2020 at 11:32 pm

      Toxic masculinity is indeed a serious issue for all men. As a men’s domestic abuse counsellor toxic masculinity signals a definite warning of a misogynistic ladenned belief system that inevitably ends with a life filled with trauma and and resolved issues. This road leads to absolute failure in most aspects of life both personal and professional. I’ve laid witness to hundreds and hundreds of men who end up depressed, alone, suicidal and even worse, incarcerated. Any man who wallows in the bowels of toxic masculinity will end up a complete and utter mess. The only way to address toxic masculinity is to become accountable for all of your choices and consequences and the only way to do this is to have enough courage to be truly honest with yourself.
      Otherwise your fragile toxicity will.ruin your life, and that of your sons and any other young man’s life you influence.
      Most men are so emotionally illiterate and do not have the capacity to realize they are putting themselves in harm’s way.
      And to prove my point, watch the reactions to this comment.

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  18. Tim Wakefield

    May 9, 2020 at 7:01 am

    Carter, youre trying way too hard with the thesaurus bud. Honestly some sentences don’t really make sense.

    “Hockey culture can be wonderfully amazing, while it can also be horrifically misogynistic. Many of these deviations along the ‘average’ plot-line hillock stem from the individuals involved, their upbringing, and close circle of friends/acquaintances.”

    Average plot-line hillock? Plot line doesn’t need a hyphen for starters and hillock is just a dammed hill. This isn’t the New Yorker, know your audience. What are you trying to say here? What is the average plot line of a hockey player, real or imagined?

    “ That same ‘Spittin’ Chiclets’ podcast – featuring the likes of Paul Bissonette, Ryan Whitney, etc. – often brings about vulgar, misogynistic frat-boy culture, much along the lines of its leading female sex and dating podcast, ‘Call Her Daddy’,

    Don’t know if it was just a typo but the “it’s” in there implies ownership/relation between the two podcasts. You need to make it clear that it’s Barstool that owns both podcasts, Spittin Chiclets has no direct affiliation with Call her Daddy. Really hard to decipher what this article is attempting to say, probably should hire/fire an editor at this point.

  19. Pingback: Capitals waive Brendan Leipsic, will terminate contract after vulgar messages leaked on social media – Lower RGV News

  20. Pingback: Capitals waive Brendan Leipsic, will terminate contract after vulgar messages leaked on social media - BUXX NEWS Magazine


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