Hazing has been a normalized part of hockey culture for almost as long as the sport has been around. While it's deemed illegal in many leagues, the tradition of demoralizing rookies through controversial rituals that ultimately depend on the veterans' imagination and lack of conscience is one that still stands.
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The St. Michaels College story has brought the debate of hazing back to the table, it isn't exclusive to schools and fraternities. In fact, it's much more popular on extracurricular sports teams outside of school.
While some teams conduct more humane rituals that run along the lines of making rookies sing karaoke to embarrassing songs, others are harmful and borderline abusive. One NHLer has exposed just how bad hazing got for him on his hockey team.
Daniel Carcillo is a two time Stanley Cup champion after his time as a Chicago Blackhawk and is now a retired NHL player. But Carcillo claims that regardless of his success in the hockey world, it's still hard to forget what happened to him during his time in the OHL.
Carcillo played for the Sarnia Sting in the OHL during their 2002-2003 season, where he claims he witnessed violent hazing. After hearing about the St. Michaels story, Carcillo felt the need to speak up about his own experiences as well as his teammates to show hazing is still a large problem. Noting that after reading about the tragic events that transpired in the school and another boys' abuse, it "trigger[ed] all these emotions and imagery and [was] just so vivid."
In an effort to show just how bad it got, Carcillo told CBC about one incident that still lingers with him today. "One of my teammates [was] taped to a table ass-up naked being whipped with his own belt by two veterans. He was screaming."
According to Carcillo, a coach heard the altercation from his office and came in. But instead of breaking it up, the vet gave the coach the belt so he could give the player "a token slap."
While Carcillo believes it was "more of a joking participation," he says watching it all happen in front of his eyes told him "I had nobody to turn to, to tell this type of stuff to, you know, to tell these guys what we were going through."
Unfortunately, it wasn't an isolated incident. Carcillo noted that rookies on the team were also forced to "pull their pants down and subject themselves to beatings with a jagged goalie stick."
"Some guys would get it harder than others because they were misunderstood or some of the guys thought we were a little bit off or weird [because] we didn't fit the mould of a typical masculine hockey player."
But, the worst of it all for Carcillo that led to his breaking point was when he was stuffed into the team bus washroom with six other teammates. There they spent "forty-five minutes being naked in a hot box having tobacco chew spit thrown through a vent at us."
Soon after, Carcillo went to team management as well as the OHL commissioner at the time, David Branch to find help.
While many write off hazing as just a harmless part of hockey culture, Carcillo disagrees, telling skeptics to "look back to that roster and go look up the names of guys that were on those teams in Sarnia and look how messed up some of us are with addiction issues, relationship issues."
Today the OHL has zero tolerance for hazing. But considering such an environment is surrounded with ex-players who went through hazing themselves, it can be hard to stop something that has been normalized for so long. Regardless, Carcillo believes that even though there is "a lot more work to be done," this is the right time to do it.