Today, Sportsnet’s Chris Johnston broke the story of the day (possibly the week) when he reported that the Evander Kane completely missed the Vancouver game of his own choice and detailed the day leading up to it. You can read the entire story here, and I very much urge you to do so.
There is a lot that strikes me as fundamentally wrong in the picture painted by Johnston. I will admit that the situation strikes a chord within me for personal reasons. I’ve been there. I’ve been on a team where bullying antics being used to have teammates to conform were “okay”. I had my clothes thrown in the shower as a “prank”. And because I couldn’t prove which teammate did it, no disciplinary action was taken. Ultimately, I quit the team. And obviously, despite it being nearly 15 years later, I still feel the pain. (What was I being forced to conform to, by the way? I still don’t know. It was high school – I wasn’t pretty enough, I wasn’t skinny enough, I wasn’t normal enough.)
That was in high school. Professional athletes should be held to a higher standard. However, it appears – unless information is being withheld (and that’s could be likely) – Dustin Byfuglien is getting away with bullying. The ramifications of this are HUGE. The message sent out to the public… the message sent to prospective athletes… the message sent out to kids who look up to these players… is despicable.
It’s saying that intimidation tactics are okay. They’re not. And if you’re one of the ones saying ‘oh, it’s just boys being boys, it’s just hockey players, it’s just locker-room antics. It’s just x, it’s just y, it’s just z’ It’s not just anything. It’s cruel. It’s immature. And it’s bullying, plain and simple.
Further, if there is a kernel of truth that Kane has been playing injured… perhaps there is more to the story for that day. Perhaps he wouldn’t have played that night after all. Perhaps there was a medical reason he was wearing a tracksuit. I highly doubt that those details will ever be released.