[Content warning: This talks about SA/DV. Please know your limits before proceeding.]
I’m sitting here trying to figure out something very important in my life. What do I do now? How, given the shitshow that the NHL has become (or more accurately been revealed to be), does my relationship with the league change?
The NHL has in recent weeks and months shown itself to be not only hostile to women and to the survivors of sexual abuse but absolutely and completely unwilling to change. The NHL is a league that publicly supports the shaming and silencing of the victims of sexual and domestic violence and they are unwilling to even consider that there might be something wrong with that.
As a whole, they proceed on the assumption that players being called out on reprehensible behavior is something underhanded that happens to them. They believe that the crime is that someone spoke out and tarnished their reputation.
They believe that a rape investigation is a distraction to the league.
The distraction, of course, is not that someone accused a player of being an evil shithead, but that the evil shithead still gets to fucking represent the league in public. The distraction is that the story isn’t what’s happening on the ice but the total assholery off the ice from both players and management.
Patrick Kane. Mike Ribeiro. Drew Doughty. Semyon Varlamov.
Not one of these players saw anyone in any professional authority over them take a stand against rape, sexual assault, or domestic violence. No one did. No one said, sit down, you evil shithead. How dare you claim to represent me? That’s some next level assholery, NHL.
I believe that there are good people in hockey. I believe that there are good people employed by the NHL and its teams. I have met some of them and have interacted with others online. Patrick Kane now represents those people and that’s not fair.
Where do I, then, fit in? How can I support a league that is openly hostile to my existence as a woman and a rape and abuse survivor?
I have already stopped wearing NHL merchandise. I mostly stopped months ago after David Poile of the Nashville Predators not only called Mike Ribeiro a good family man but said that he couldn’t be bothered about the woman Ribeiro assaulted because she filed a civil case. Despite the fact that rape and assault victims often have literally no other recourse. Really? Fuck you too, David Polie. The justice system let her down, and you kicked her.
I have stopped purchasing tickets and attending Predators games. This is actually a bit of a problem because the company that staffs concessions and security at Bridgestone Arena literally gives homeless people jobs. Some of those people are my friends. But I just can’t bring myself to do it.
On the other hand, I have a job. I love my job. I am a better, happier person because of my job and the challenges it brings me. And part of my job is to write about goaltenders in the NHL. Which promotes the NHL along with the individuals. Not to mention that I have to have an NHL streaming package to do that job. That’s my money in their pocket.
I have been trying to decide what to do about that. Trying to decide if I am still able to fulfill those duties. Right now, I believe I can, even though it means compartmentalizing the fuck out of my life. So to the extent that I can live with it. I will live with it. Because, again: healthy, (largely) happy, growing.
On the other hand, I’m trying to remind myself to keep tabs on how I’m doing. To balance NHL coverage and the attendant implications with women’s hockey coverage, which I am more proud and honored to do than I can possibly say. Healthy, (largely) happy, growing. Things change over time. I need to be aware of that.
There is so much I want to learn and I have to learn it in the real world. Maybe I will have the chance to do good along the way.
On the other hand, the NHL must face up to the moral imperative to change. This is a pivotal challenge. What they do now will have repercussions down the road. Make the right decision. And don’t expect me to shut up about it, either.
And for fans who are reeling from this, I give the only wisdom I have to give. Know thyself. Respect your own boundaries, because no one else will respect them for you. Give the part of yourself that you are able to give and give it to the people that will allow you to be healthy and happy and to grow. And don’t let anyone shame you for the decisions you make. However you survive is good.