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Whitby Dunlops hockey player Don Sanderson 21, died yesterday three weeks after hitting his head on the ice after a fight during an Ontario seniors game year. He is to be buried on Tuesday.

The brawling is part and parcel of our OHL with young men being taught to intimidate and retaliate instead of a code of sportsmanship. Hockey is the only sport that drafts the majority of their players from high school age kids.

They lose the nurturing of living at home and attending their local schools with their friends when they are drafted. They are indentured servants who can be traded or cut by the owners for the good of the team. It is pretty hard to have good attendance and an education when you bus it to far away Ottawa or the Sault. We have created a false pyramid scheme for these young men to chase the star of a Wayne Gretzky while the reality that one per cent will make the pros.

The owners and the managers with their three piece suits do very well while the kids play for small change. The outspoken voice of hockey is the one and only Mr Don Cherry who espouses the rock and sock him brand of hockey. He is the voice of knowledge with tons of experience in the warfare trenches of pro hockey; he played one game in the NHL for the Boston Bruins and now he is an expert.

I listened to his syndicated radio show, “The Grape Line” the week after some blood letting and heard his counsel.

“Tough guys don’t wear shields, it is a code of honour for fighters looking for trouble” It is okay to lose an eye to fight for the mob but don’t lose your macho manhood hiding behind a visor. I wonder how many young boys heard his message and took it to heart?

He was the owner of the Mississauga Ice Dogs that had the distinction of being dead last in the OHL. No way was there room for European players on this roster of excellence.

Our love of the game of hocky is tarnished every time our young men drop their gloves, slash or back check a fellow player into the boards. The refs monitor the violence but are part and parcel of the scrum. The ice rink should not be a different playing surface offering protection from due justice when one acts contrary to the laws of common decency and acceptability.

I used to love watching a game of hockey on TV but for the past few years I have shut the set off when the screen was filled with unshaven, spitting, fighting, brawling players.

Passing, plays making one-on-one shoot outs between a goalie and his worthy adversary has taken a back seat to violence. If we are looking somewhere to focus our anger then we can look to the owners. They call the shots, pay the piper, call the tune, employ the players and the refs.

Hockey will change when the owners, coaches and players are held accountable for their actions. The hockey fans have to step up and voice their opposition to the violence that has been allowed to fester. We can not afford to have another young man be maimed/killed in Canada to defend the honour of hockey.

“Most men look at things as they are and wonder Why. I dream of things that never were and ask Why Not?”

Len Lesser

Len Lesser posts a report every week

You can email Len at lenlesser@hotmail.com