The Fear of Reprisal In Hockey Knows No Boundaries. (CAUTION: This Might Make You Sick)
If you believe for one second that 16-20 year old players in the CHL don’t fear the wrath or reprisal from ownership in speaking out against league policy or minimum wage fights, you have to look no further than at the culture of hockey at the highest level, the National Hockey League.
When Gary Bettman threatens to send a message to a fully decorated referee, Kerry Fraser, who was employed by the NHL for almost 30 years, and then became an analyst with TSN after retiring from the National Hockey League with a severance package, you gotta know that the intimidation tactics and fear of reprisal within the hockey world knows no boundaries.
Fraser spoke out publicly on TSN in regards to a vicious hit during a New York Ranger game. The email trail below comes from court documents in the NHL concussion lawsuit.
If there’s anyone that has a second thought after reading this email thread between NHL executives, that not only NHL players but CHL players as well, fear the reprisal of ownership, Commissioners and league Presidents. Players, referees, coaches, trainers, Zamboni drivers all fear their ability to intimidate and send a league message to players and anyone else who choose to speak out and refuse to tow the league’s line.
This is the culture of hockey from the highest level to the lowest level.
This will make you sick.
“Are we still paying him anything?”
The unsealed court exhibits include an email string following an incident during the 2010-11 season.
The NHL fined but did not suspend New York Rangers player Derek Stepan for elbowing Mike Green, then of the Washington Capitals, during a game. Days later, former NHL referee Kerry Fraser appeared on TSN and criticized the league’s discipline.
Fraser sent an email to a group of 39 medical researchers on March 1, 2011, including Dr. Echemendia. Fraser included a link to a video of the incident on TSN’s website.
“You will see the hit and then you can judge as to whether a ‘fine’ was warranted? You make the call,” Fraser wrote.
Dr. Echemendia forwarded Fraser’s email to Grand and Daly.
“FYI see below the kinds of emails that Kerry Fraser is circulating,” Dr. Echemendia wrote.
Daly forwarded the email string to commissioner Gary Bettman.
“I’m not sure there is anything we can or should be doing, but I wanted you to be aware,” Daly wrote.
“Are we still paying him anything?” Bettman asked in reply.
“Yes, his severance,” Daly answered. “But I’m not sure we can stop paying him for expressing views critical of the League.”
“It wouldn’t be nice but maybe he should understand it’s not nice to bite the hand that feeds you,” Bettman wrote. “Please have someone check to see if there are any grounds to withhold. Don’t want to hurt him – maybe just get his attention. This campaign, his book – somewhat delusional.”