Former Calgary Flames star and best-selling author Theo Fleury told True North that CTV has a “double standard” when it comes to comments made by The Social host Jessica Allen.
On November 12, Allen claimed former Coach’s Corner host Don Cherry was representative of young unthoughtful “white boys” who were into hockey.
“They all tended to be white boys who weren’t, let’s say very nice, they were not generally thoughtful, they were often bullies. Their parents were able to afford to spend $5,000 a year on hockey,” she said of young hockey players.
The comments were made while discussing Sportsnet’s decision to fire Cherry over his calls for everybody to wear poppies for Remembrance Day.
Fleury joins a number of current and former NHL players who have come out in defence of Cherry, including Colorado Avalanche player Nazem Kadri who claimed Cherry’s comments were taken “out of context” and hockey superstar Bobby Orr who called the firing “disgraceful.”
“CTV’s response is the typical double standard. What she said was her experience in one incident and is not the standard of all kids who play hockey,” said Fleury.
Shortly after Allen’s comments went viral, the hashtag #FireJessAllen was trending on Twitter forcing her to reply on the following afternoon’s program.
“I was speaking about my own lived experiences, often negative experiences with those who’ve played the sport and how they’ve led to me being conflicted, really conflicted about how hockey is so closely bound to our national identity,” Allen claimed.
However, according to Fleury, the sport is a crucial part of Canadian identity and there are many opportunities for kids who are disadvantaged to participate in the sport, pointing to charities that fund kids who otherwise couldn’t afford to play.
“Every small town who has a rink is the hub for the community. Hockey gives Canadians a sense of pride. It’s our identity,” said Fleury.
“Bullying is a societal issue, not a hockey issue. Bullying is a learned behaviour that usually happens in the home, not in sport.”
Complaints regarding Allen and Cherry were so numerous that the Canadian Broadcast Standards Council was forced to temporarily close its complaint page.
CTV also issued its own response to the outrage, indicating that they wouldn’t be taking action against Allen.
According to Fleury, kids shouldn’t feel discouraged from playing the sport because many opportunities exist for somebody to enter the rink.
“To those kids there are many many ways you can participate in the sport. Hockey Canada has done everything in their power to make hockey available to every kid who wants to play,” said Fleury.
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