Jack Todd: Shame on Hockey Night in Canada for downplaying Lucic story

Bruins forward was arrested on Sat., Nov. 18, for an alleged assault on his wife to which he has pleaded not guilty.

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When Boston Bruins winger Milan Lucic was arrested following an alleged assault on his wife, Brittany, in the wee hours on Nov. 18, it sent shock waves through the hockey community.

Lucic is no longer the player he was, but he remains a prominent figure in the NHL — feared and hated by some, admired by others.

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Either way, it was easily the news story of the day in the NHL. Yet when Hockey Night in Canada began broadcasting later that Saturday, the arrest received a single mention — that from Elliotte Friedman, the only real journalist on the panel.

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By now you know the story. Lucic, often a bright, engaging interview when he wasn’t scaring the pads off opponents, has pleaded not guilty to a charge of assault and battery against a family member.

According to a copy of the police report obtained by the Boston Globe, Brittany alleges that Lucic, one of the most feared fighters in the NHL, grabbed her by the hair and threatened to choke her, frightening her badly enough that she phoned police. This should have been the lead topic on a Hockey Night in Canada panel that normally induces nothing more powerful than an irresistible urge to fall asleep.

The report says the argument was triggered when Lucic couldn’t find his phone. When his wife said she didn’t have it and tried to walk away, that’s when he allegedly grabbed her hair and said, “you’re not going anywhere.”

“Like words from a horror movie,” Kevin Paul Dupont wrote in the Boston Globe. “Trapped. Vulnerable. Prey.”

The Bruins will surely have the eminent good sense to cut ties with Lucic now, however this plays out in the courts. (The NHL, many fans fail to understand, is not a court of law. It has its own standards and its own contracts and if you’re in violation, Gary Bettman is the only judge.)

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There is no denying that incidents alleging domestic or gender violence by athletes keep happening and that prosecuting any resulting charges is enormously difficult, as it is with any prominent or wealthy male.

That truth is perhaps behind the lengthy delay in the result of three reports into investigations on the alleged gang rape in London, Ont., in June 2018 that led to the Hockey Canada payoff scandal. We have spent most of 2023 waiting for reports from the NHL, the London police and Hockey Canada itself and it appears likely the year will end with nothing made public.

It’s now my understanding, via a source, that actual charges may be forthcoming. Since the incident involves members of Team Canada’s world junior champions in 2018, some of whom are NHL players today, filing charges would unleash a battery of high-priced lawyers and shake the hockey world to its core.

That would explain why all three entities have been so cautious about releasing their reports. I have been told previously that the NHL and Hockey Canada are waiting on the London police report before making the results of their own investigations known.

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Or perhaps we’ll be in the same place a year from now, twiddling our thumbs and waiting on reports that will never come to light.

Truth from Dequoy: In the wake of the Alouettes’ stirring Grey Cup victory, I was writing with the volume down on the television when I glanced up and saw the Alouettes’ Marc-Antoine Dequoy screaming into the RDS camera.

By the time I turned the volume up, Dequoy had finished. I rewound, listened, and shook my head — this was going to hit the fan and I wanted no part of being caught in the middle, which is where you always end up if you try to write rationally about language in Quebec.

“They never believed in us, man,” Dequoy said. “You look everywhere it’s written in English. You checked TSN it was written Toronto vs. Winnipeg. You come here and they only speak English. … But you know what, man. Keep your English because we’re taking the Cup.”

I knew where Dequoy was coming from. The CFL’s failure to provide bilingual signs at the Grey Cup. TSN’s very real listings, which had Toronto playing Winnipeg. I know how hyped up athletes are after a championship victory, but I saw no reason to add my voice to what would surely become another pointless brouhaha over language.

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Much to my surprise, Alouettes fans in this province understood. By and large, anglophones and francophones alike, they had Dequoy’s back. We might quarrel with one another, but we don’t like being insulted by the rest of Canada.

It was a rare moment of understanding, backed by the revelation that many Alouettes are learning French with full support from head coach Jason Maas. If only this miserable Coalition Avenir Québec government would be half so conciliatory.

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