‘No place in the game’: Metro hockey player fights racism

Keegan Mitchell, seen here in this submitted portrait, is a Sherwood Metros hockey player from Prince Edward Island. (Submitted: Keegan Mitchell)

Prince Edward Island Sherwood Metros hockey player Keegan Mitchell sits on the bench during a Junior B game Dec. 17 in preparation for his upcoming shift when he overheard his teammate talking to his coach about a racial slur uttered by an opponent.

When Mitchell, a lifelong Hockey PEI player, returned to the ice, he approached the Kensington Vipers player and asked them about their comment. Mitchell remembers saying, “What you said has no place in the game,” then he snapped his stick over his opponent’s leg, which is called a slash.

Mitchell was ejected from the game and received a two-game suspension.

“That was kind of the message that needed to be sent to what he did,” Mitchell said. “There’s no place for that, and we weren’t going to tolerate that as a Metros team.”

After the game, the Vipers manager and player, who made the remark, tried to speak with the Metros player in their locker room, but Mitchell said their coach blocked him because many players were furious. That night, the Vipers player called and apologized to the Metros player.

After the holiday break, Hockey PEI met with each player involved and their coaches via Zoom to discuss the situation. On January 5, they emailed the Metros player stating that the opposing player would get a two-game suspension for his remark.

Mitchell said his teammate contacted him directly and said the consequence was unfair.

“[He said] a whipping sentence and a racist remark should not be equal, and I agreed that was unacceptable,” Mitchell said. “Then I said to him, ‘Would you be okay with me going on social media about this?'”

Mitchell posted a statement about the incident on Facebook and tagged Hockey PEI He also posted a message on Instagram shortly after. The Facebook post garnered over 1,000 likes, 297 shares and 231 comments, and Instagram had a similar response.

A day or two after the posting, his manager contacted him to say he was suspended indefinitely from PEI-sanctioned hockey events for violating their social media contract and that the Vipers were looking for a lawyer against him for his publications.

“Suspend me for [breaching social media] showed that they were more interested in how they were perceived by the public than in the actual racial slurs that were unfolding.

Mitchell again took to social media and continued to share his story with the Canadiens. Shortly after, Mitchell said Hockey PEI’s Connor Cameron contacted him to say his indefinite suspension had been lifted and thanked him for bringing the situation to light.

“Without me being willing to go on social media, or do any of this, none of this would have been known to the public and would certainly have attempted to be shoved under the rug,” said Mitchell.

On Jan. 12, Hockey PEI released a statement saying Mitchell’s suspension had been lifted, reverting to his original two-game suspension and that the Vipers player had received a five-day suspension for his remark. They also praised Mitchell in the statement for “shining the spotlight” on their missteps surrounding the incident.

“They kind of changed what they originally suspended me for,” he said.

Mitchell said players need to be made more aware that racism is not tolerated and what kind of impact those comments have on themselves and other players.

“If it’s in the back of our minds, it’s going to be in somebody’s head when they go and tweet somebody and they’re like, ‘I know what happens when somebody does that now. , I’m not going to say anything.

Mitchell said he’s thrilled to be able to finish his career in junior hockey, but he’s also on the lookout for how Hockey PEI. will choose to respond to similar situations in the future.

“Are they going to do the right thing, or are they going to fall back on trying to shove it under the rug and not tell anyone?” Mitchell said.

“I expect them to practice what they preach.”

Catherine J. Martinez