Ontario Hockey League Commissioner says his organization has failed players under his care.
David Branch says he did not know how bad he was the rookie for players such as Daniel Carcillo. Carcillo and other players were released this week with accusations of brutality.
In an interview with CBC Sports, Branch called the charges "sick."
"We've had Dan and the other players involved in my opinion, and it's shocking. You know, I do not know how to put that," says Branch.
In the last days, four members of 2002-03 Sarnia Sting presented their stories about what happened.
"I talked about my house at age 17 to pursue my dream of doing it to the NHL and doing something about myself. And what I and I had to endure this year was daily abuse," says Carcillo, who went on to win two Stanley Cups with the Chicago Blackhawks .
OHL Commissioner, David Branch spoke @IoannaCBC On a supposed incident of acclaim in 2003, when former NHLer Daniel Carcillo says he and other rookies were stuffed in the bathroom on a charter bus. pic.twitter.com/9QSij55xTg
Carcillo, detailed, was embedded in a nude bus bathroom and with teammates spit out the tobacco juice. He also said the players were naked, tied and beaten with a goalkeeper's pin.
Carcillo contacted Branch directly
Some of his teammates, including golfer Ryan Munce, soon appeared to corroborate the charges of Carcillo and tell his own stories.
"There are guys who were acting like KKK [Ku Klux Klan] because he was dating a girl of different nationalities, making Hitler sign in front of our Jewish partner until he was tearing, "recalls Munce.
"This is the day of constant abuse inside, day, throwing a boy to the table and knocking him with belts and stuff, that was the" beginner of the day. "
Watch Daniel Carcillo details the abuse he suffered at 17:
Branch says that Carcillo contacted him directly during the season about what was happening in Sarnia. He visited the team to investigate, but the manager and the manager said no serious incidents occurred.
"There was a situation that they described, although it was dangerous in my opinion it was not something that called for a particular discipline," recalls Branch.
"That situation was that the rookie players were in the clothing cart of the team and pushed down the room and you know a kind of carefree jumping from the walls and things of that nature. And that was really the extension of what came to me and the discussion as a memory ".
Jeff Perry, the main coach of Sarnia in 2002-03, initially challenged Carcillo's claims that the administration was aware of the abuse. However, Carcillo tweeted on Thursday that Perry was among the members of the administration that took responsibility.
These last 3 days have been extremely emotional and amp; transformer
The healing process began.
I have already heard a good amount of veterans, the general manager, the coach and coach boss; Team Assistant Coach & # 39; 03 & amp; a commissioner who has taken full responsibility …
& mdash;@ CarBombBoom13
There was no call back to Perry by CBC Sports this Wednesday for more comments.
Branch says that a major change to the league around the news came in 2005. That year, the league issued a large set of fines and suspensions for the Spitfires of Windsor through a series of incidents of stunts.
"It was the first time, and frankly, the only time that came to me about issues related to initiation, invitation and the like," says Branch.
However, he says the league has initiated a series of initiatives that include a policy of zero tolerance.
"We had to support the players"
"We had to support the players, make sure they understood what is right, what is acceptable, what is not. And most important, I suggested, here you can find if you are not comfortable with going to your own coach or general manager" Branch di.
Branch also points to a series of mental health programs that the league has set in motion.
"People look at our league that is the number 1 development league in the world for the National Hockey League, which is. But our focus in the last 10 to 15 years is how we support the person? And that's where we are. He made such a tremendous progress, that we are so proud of. "
See how Carcillo's former colleague echoes experiences of abuse:
Others in the hockey community seem to echo the feelings of Branch that hazing is a byproduct of an old hockey culture that no longer exists.
"I think we have to understand that things have changed a lot," says Eric Wellwood, FLint Firebirds coach at OHL.
"Through my experience at the OHL, since I was 16 years old in 2006 until I was now a coach in the league, they eliminated all these bad and bad things that surround the league, in particular, and, in the end, I think the OHL he deserves credit and that it is not a story that can be true but what has happened for a long time. "
On Thursday night, OHL issued a statement that reiterated its commitment to anti-hazing policy.
"Given the recent attention paid to the rookie theme, the league spoke with the team's leadership and all of our member teams are giving a new appeal to all employees and players on this most important issue," read the statement .
"Our hope is that through conversation, education and awareness, attitudes that lead to behavior and these unthinkable actions disappear from sport and society."
I hope the change has happened
A number of current NHL players also reacted to Carcillo's comments, including the advancement of Vancouver Canucks, Bo Horvat.
"It's hard to hear that sort of thing, but I think it has disappeared in my age of youth hockey," says Horvat.
"I've heard a lot about it and I've heard what the kids have gone through in recent years, but I think we really cracked it when I started to rise, so I did not get any kind of thing. Thank God."
Carcillo and the others who presented the hope Branch and Horvat are right. Carcillo also says that he appreciates the members of Sarnia Sting who came to talk about what happened.
At the same time, the change in hockey does not occur overnight.
"When you're particularly focused on a goal, it's a great way to scare what you accept to try to achieve that goal," says Carcillo.
"And if you talk and speak a lot in the world of hockey and ask you many questions, you do not like them. They want you to be a good soldier and do what they say."