Island hockey player suspension attracts nationwide attention and criticism
Hockey PEI’s suspension of a player for posting racist comments on social media continues to spark reactions from across the country, from Hockey Night in Canada, sports networks and even in a tweet from Canadian singer kd lang.
Former PEI Hockey President Gordie Lund also intervened, saying the organization overreacted to comments posted by 20-year-old Keegan Mitchell of Charlottetown.
Mitchell was reacting to a two-game suspension imposed on a member of the Kensington Vipers Junior B team for an anti-Asian racial slur targeting one of Mitchell’s teammates.
Mitchell also received a two-game suspension when he cut the offending player’s leg. In a social media post, Mitchell said he was defending his teammate and criticized Hockey PEI for handling the situation.
As a result of the post, Mitchell now faces indefinite suspension due to a violation of the organization’s social media code of conduct.
“@Hockey PEI. Come on. Do better,” Lang tweeted on Jan. 8.
Lund said Hockey PEI opened a “box of worms” with his decision.
“Keegan was basically telling the truth about the situation he was involved in,” Lund said.
“My opinion is that he hasn’t discredited anyone and he definitely stands up for what he believes in – being a friend and a player, a teammate, came out and told the truth and is suspended indefinitely without a hearing… media rules social, it’s hard to stop. “
He is an ally, he is a spectator training and he did an exceptional job.– MLA Gord McNeilly
MPP Gord McNeilly has said he hopes Mitchell’s suspension will be lifted.
“He’s an ally, he’s a spectator training and he did an exceptional job … I hope he will like it.”
PEI Hockey officials were unavailable for comment on Monday.
Last week, they said Mitchell’s post violated their social media policy by publicly criticizing the officials and Hockey PEI’s disciplinary process.
Island morning10:28Hockey PEI deals with another incident involving racial slurs.
Hockey PEI has rendered other decisions in recent months regarding racism and homophobia. Shortly after the start of the fall season, three boys were sanctioned for online bullying of a young player. A player was suspended from hockey for a year.
Two other cases involving homophobic comments resulted in five-game suspensions.
An incident in which a Halifax goalkeeper said he was the victim of racist slurs while playing in a game on the island is also under investigation.
Last month McNeilly called on the province to appoint an independent commissioner to deal with issues related to systemic racism.