Sometimes you have to step away (from today’s Bettman/Daly disaster)

I had to step away from the blog for a couple of hours because of what NHL commissioner Gary Bettman and deputy commissioner Bill Daly said and didn’t say during today’s media availability:

Bettman and Daly spoke with the media for the better part of an hour, addressing Kyle Beach’s abuse at the hands of Brad Aldrich, the NHL’s decision to fine the Chicago Blackhawks $2 million, the resignation of Joel Quenneville from the Florida Panthers’ head coaching job and more. It was a combination of intense legalese, evasion from blame and self-exoneration from a league that failed its players.

In other words, it was painful to watch, and it made me feel very bad about being an NHL fan. At the same time, I’d suggest that, should you have an hour, your watch as much of it as you can, because Bettman and Daly’s remarks remind us of how much hockey’s culture has to change. We can’t simply expect someone who’s been abused to bravely step forward like Beach did, and say that hockey’s culture is fine otherwise.

It’s not. We still live in a world where sexual abuse is endemic–and very common–and the NHL’s corporate culture and safeguards for its employees, be they players or otherwise, need to change.

Now a lot of the responsibility for changing the culture falls on the shoulders of the NHLPA, which will hold an executive board meeting this evening to examine executive director Donald Fehr’s culpability in the Beach abuse, but the NHL can do a lot more to change its ways to ensure that all of its employees are safe from harm and safe from sexual predators, and having a hotline for abuse is simply not enough.

The NHL and NHLPA alike need to make systemic changes to the way they operate to ensure that everyone who needs help with life issues get the help they need, be they suffering from addiction issues, psychiatric illnesses, from other trauma and especially from sexual or domestic abuse–among other issues–and I’m not sure that Gary Bettman or Bill Daly or Donald Fehr should be the people leading the league or the players’ union any more.

Today’s media availability drove that home.

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George Malik

My name is George Malik, and I'm the Malik Report's editor/blogger/poster. I have been blogging about the Red Wings since 2006, when MLive hired me to work their SlapShots blog, and I joined Kukla's Korner in 2011 as The Malik Report. I'm starting The Malik Report as a stand-alone site, hoping that having my readers fund the website is indeed the way to go to build a better community and create better content.