Take violence against women seriously
In early August, Chicago Blackhawks superstar Patrick Kane was accused of raping a woman, another allegation of sexual violence in a sport that seems unwilling to change for the better. Despite the fact that he was under investigation for a serious crime for months, Kane did not miss a single day on the ice. On the contrary, his team never paused in actively promoting him.
It has become increasingly difficult for hockey fans like me -- especially women, who make up roughly 1 in 3 NHL fans -- to cheer for teams that shrug off serious allegations of their players assaulting women. These teams often place on-ice competition and business interests above basic decency. And we’ve had enough of it.
As public incidences of violence against women continue to bring shame to the hockey community, the National Hockey League has steadfastly refused to change. Not anymore. We are petitioning the NHL to institute a clear, comprehensive policy of zero tolerance for players who commit acts of intimate partner violence or sexual assault.
This would mean that the NHL would have suspended a suspected sexual abuser like Kane - with pay - until the police investigation was complete. It would mean that a team that violates the terms of a domestic abuser's suspension, as the Los Angeles Kings did with Slava Voynov, would receive a harsh, truly consequential punishment. It would also mean that a player convicted of such a crime would not be allowed to rejoin his team in any capacity until he has served his sentence.
Some Blackhawks fans have spoken eloquently about walking away from the team they used to love. As a lifelong New Jersey Devils fan I know how strong the bond between fan and team can be, but I also know that our moral center needs to be stronger. If the NHL doesn’t take real action to help deter sexual assault and violence against women among its players then I, and many others, will feel forced to cut all ties with the league and the teams we feel so passionately about.
We want the NHL to send a message to players -- and to the public -- that we are through tolerating this unacceptable behavior. The way that the league and its teams treat issues of sexual assault, domestic violence, sexism and misogyny has a real effect on fans, especially the youngest, most impressionable ones. We care, and Commissioner Bettman should, too. He should respect us enough to hear us out. Sign this petition if you agree. Thank you.
- NHL Commissioner
- NHL Deputy Commissioner
Take sexual assault and domestic violence seriously and implement a zero tolerance policy for your players.
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