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“Hockey climate is changing for the better”: Bobcats coach on NHL zero tolerance plan

A Lloydminster hockey coach believes hockey culture is changing for the better after recent claims of abuse in the NHL.

The NHL recently announced a zero-tolerance plan after abuse claims from players from the past had been made towards former Calgary Flames coach Bill Peters.

Lloydminster Bobcats Head Coach Nigel Dube says if an abusive incident was reported in the AJHL, there would be a process followed by the organization and the league depending on the severity. Dube says communication is important between the coaching staff and players.

“Even when we look outside of the incident that’s happened is the mental health of players and being able to talk to somebody. I think that’s a big part of it and I think that’s something that’s been emphasized the last few years is having those lines of communication so players feel safe.”

Bill Peters resigned on November 29th after claims were made by Akim Aliu of racial slurs thrown his way by the coach a decade ago with the AHL’s Rockford IceHogs. More allegations poured out from previous players Peters has coached such as Michal Jordan. He claimed Peters kicked him on the bench while he was a member of the Carolina Hurricanes.

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Dube says the AJHL has a sensitivity handbook all players and staff must go through in the league, although it may need to be tweaked.

“Whether it be our league or our organization, it’s making everyone take a real look at operations and what the layout is. [They may need] to be freshened up on [policies] from ten to twelve years ago.”

The NHL has crafted a plan that involves every incident to be reported to the NHL’s top officials. The plan will include annual training for all staff, all inappropriate behaviour is subject to the league or team discipline, and a hotline will be available in order to report anonymously or not.

Amidst the allegations towards the former Calgary Head Coach comes other stories of abuse that have come to light at various levels of the sport. The Chicago Blackhawks suspended assistant coach Marc Crawford while investigating claims against him.

Dube says the hockey climate is changing from the hard-nosed style of coaching.

“Everything has changed since my days of playing. It’s an age of getting the most out of the players, and also making them feel appreciated and respected.”

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