Colorado Avalanche: Sadly, You Never Know a Player’s Heart

DENVER, COLORADO - FEBRUARY 27: Members of the Colorado Avalanche celebrate their shoot out win against the Vancouver Canucks at the Pepsi Center on February 27, 2019 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)
DENVER, COLORADO - FEBRUARY 27: Members of the Colorado Avalanche celebrate their shoot out win against the Vancouver Canucks at the Pepsi Center on February 27, 2019 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images) /
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The Colorado Avalanche players seem like good guys, and I’ll believe they have good hearts until I learn otherwise — like the world did with Brendan Leipsic, et al recently.

The Colorado Avalanche is filled with young jocks, same as any other NHL team. Sure, the team has a small group of 30-somethings — which is still young in real life — but the team is predominantly made up of young, male jocks.

Recently, a group of young, male jocks thankfully not related to the Avs organization were caught in a longtime habit of making disparaging remarks in a private group chat. This group included current(?) NHLer Brendan Leipsic of the Washington Capitals, his brother Jeremy Leipsic who was playing hockey for the University of Manitoba after washing out of the MJHL, Jack Rodewald who has been playing for the Florida Panthers’ AHL affiliate, and Jordyn Boyd who washed out of the South Eastern Manitoba Hockey League, a senior men’s league.

The offensive nature of their commentary was wide-ranging. It included an appreciation for doing cocaine and severe belittlement of teammates — specifically, Leipsic made awful comments about his linemates on the Capitals.

The vast majority of the commentary, though, was a serious and disgusting ridicule aimed at women. They ran the gamut from making disparaging remarks about fellow player wives to denigrating images of women to commenting on sexual conquests in terms of hunting and killing. These comments were not a one-off “Her butt looks fat.” These comments seem very indicative of how these young, male jocks think.

These comments seem very indicative of what some young, male jocks claim is “just locker room talk.”

I’m none of those things — young, male, jock — so I’m not going to state definitively that that kind of commentary is, indeed, what you’d expect to hear in a locker room, even a virtual one like Leipsic’s private Instagram chat.

I’m going to say judging from my own observations, players talking trash about teammates might be possible — they chirp each other all the time, and maybe it goes too far sometimes.

I’m going to say judging from rumors and a Caps’ player’s positive drug test that some hockey players use cocaine. I have no idea if it’s in widespread use, and I don’t care. They’re elite athletes in tune with their bodies — if they can’t figure out drug use is detrimental to their health, they’re certainly not going to listen to a lecture from me.

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Discussing women’s looks? I think the vast majority of men do it. Women do it, too, both about other women and men.

The truly misogynistic commentary? Here’s where I round back to the Colorado Avalanche. I love-love-love my team. And if you’ve read my work, you know I love-love-love the players that make up my team. I really value them as people as well as the units that implement hockey.

Sadly, though, you can never know what’s in their hearts. I don’t know these men personally.

I’d like to think the vast majority of Avalanche players wouldn’t stoop to the level of misogyny that Leipsic’s group did. I’d like to think a handful of the players would even put a stop to it in a room or group chat. To be honest, I think most of them are on the spectrum ranging from making the odd negative comment to, perhaps, being a little effusive in praise of certain body parts. I find that a bit off-putting but relatively normal.

But I also acknowledge there’s a couple players I wouldn’t be too surprised to hear they’d made some of the more derogatory type of comments. One of my own favorites unwisely tweeted a negative comment about a couple of young women’s looks several years ago. I firmly believe he wouldn’t stoop to Leipsic’s group’s level, but… I don’t know his heart.

To me it’s important that the players be good people as well as good athletes. They don’t have to be choir boys, but I’d like them to be reasonable human beings. I can’t root for the sport if I don’t like the players. And I can’t like the players if they indulge in the kind of scummy thinking in Leipsic’s group.

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So, as a Colorado Avalanche fan who views all of life as a human interest story, I really hope the Avs players have good hearts. I hope the majority of them aren’t creeps and that the couple who might be suffer short tenures with the team.