In the last few months, the topic of violent interactions within the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (QMJHL) was raised by ex-players who decided to take the junior league to court. In their case, they detailed a secretive culture of veterans abusing rookies. This situation is similar to last year's Hockey Canada sexual abuse lawsuit, in which many players stayed silent about the hockey world's problems. Now, both organizations are shifting their focus toward combatting abuse.
A summary and timeline of the events:
Source: Hockey Canada
A National Problem
A similar case was observed last year on a national scale with Hockey Canada, an organization that had a fund to rule out legal problems regarding abuse:
"In April 2022, a woman filed a $3.55-million civil lawsuit against Hockey Canada, the Canadian Hockey League, and eight unnamed players. In the lawsuit, the woman alleges that she was assaulted by eight Canadian Hockey League players, including some members of that year's World Junior Team, after a Hockey Canada Foundation gala in London, Ontario," according to the website of the Government of Canada.
Later that year, as indicated by the Government, the organization settled with the woman for an unknown amount of money, maintaining the players' anonymity. In June of 2022, based on an article on Hockey Canada's website, the organization released an action plan to stop the culture of silence and toxic behavior in hockey.
Reaction of the QMJHL to the Hockey Canada Scandal
Following those events, based on an article published by the QMJHL in 2022, the league adopted a set of similar measures regarding prevention and intervention in September of the same year. Concerning prevention, the league added programs and mandatory webinars for the players and staff concerning topics such as consent or ethics. The league also added contracts to be signed by players and staff to conclude such preventive training. The set of intervention measures created at the time incited victims to contact the police, form an independent committee, and conduct internal investigations.
Gilles Courteau, Ex-Commissioner of the QMJHL (Source: QMJHL)
A demand of Class Action against the leagues is filed, and Courteau resigns.
As mentioned earlier, ex-players filed a class action lawsuit against the QMJHL and the CHL. This led to various internal changes in the QMJHL's structure, including the resignation of its commissioner Gilles Courteau in March 2023. Then, on May 30th of 2023, the Culture and Education Committee of the National Assembly of Quebec published a report concerning those initiations, which will be reviewed by the Board of the Commissioner in the following weeks, according to a press release of the QMJHL. As stated by Maxime Blouin, Director of Communications and Media Relations for the QMJHL, more details concerning the league's changes will be available during an upcoming press conference on June 9th at 12:30, in which Commissioner Mario Cecchini will address the topic.
What do the players and ex-players think about this?
Many local players and ex-players of the QMJHL were contacted about the topic, and it was impossible to obtain further information or testimony from them. Some kindly declined, while others did not respond to such requests.
Source: Wikimedia Commons
A shifting hockey culture
As previously stated, Hockey Canada and the QMJHL have attempted to change their ways in the past but faced backlash plus numerous controversies. Time can only tell how this will play out on and off the ice.
Resources for victims of abuse:
Regroupement des organismes québécois pour hommes agressés sexuellement: https://roqhas.org
QMJHL for victims: firstname.lastname@example.org
Sources: QMJHL, Hockey Canada, Government of Canada, Maxime Blouin