Have Fun in Russia, Brendan Leipsic
The big headline this week was the leak of a private group chat involving (former) Washington Capital Brendan Leipsic. The contents of this chat were shocking and, in my opinion, disgusting.
For those who aren’t plugged into the ins and outs of the story, here’s a quick summary: Leipsic and two other hockey nobodies were in a group chat that seemed to exist for the sole purpose of talking smack about everybody. They called unnamed women fat, “units,” “fridge,” and wanted to “degrade them.” They sent an Instagram post of Leipsic’s former Canucks teammate Tanner Pearson and his wife for the purpose of calling her fat (she had just had a baby). They admitted to doing cocaine. Leipsic posted former teammate Jake Virtanen’s Instagram post to the chat to call him and his friends “easily the worst crew.” And he made fun of (former, as of Friday) teammates Garnet Hathaway and Nic Dowd, calling them, “losers” while they did their podcast.
Are you disgusted yet?
Women Deserve Respect
I’ll start with the obvious. How could anyone think that calling women fat is acceptable, regardless of the level of “privacy”? If all you have to talk about with your friends is how other peoples’ bodies look, you probably have a pretty pathetic, boring life. The fact that he had the audacity to call a woman who just had a baby fat as well is low. Whether it’s ignorance of how a woman’s body works or not, that is probably one of the grossest things to say. These comments about women say a lot about how he was taught to treat women. I sincerely hope that he can actually learn how to treat women specifically going forward.
It Didn’t Blow Over
Moving on to the cocaine. I’m not happy about how the Capitals handled Kuznetsov’s coke incident. But it should have at least given those in the league who also do it pause. I don’t believe hard drugs should be a part of professional sports in general, though I’m not naive enough to think they don’t exist. So as an athlete who chooses to spend their money on such substances, one would think it prudent to, I don’t know, not blatantly talk about it in a group chat? Has no one learned that nothing on the internet is ever private? This should just be common sense. I hope that from this, the League may consider random drug tests throughout the season. No one likes them, I know, but if you treat a player as an asset, you don’t want them doing things that could risk their value to you as an organization. Keep your athletes healthy.
As for his former teammates, I hope for his sake that the NHL doesn’t have him back ever again. He didn’t pick small guys to throw potshots at. Not to mention all of their teammates who do value and care about them. The Canucks and Capitals are teams that are fairly close. There’s not a doubt in my mind that those loyal teammates will take exception to a healthy scratch fourth-liner talking smack. He better watch his back.
A side note along the same vein, he may have screwed himself out of a job in North America. He has proven himself to be a really bad teammate. He’s shown that he doesn’t care about his own “linemates” (Hathaway and Dowd…kind of), and because he’s not talented or hard-working enough to be on the top two lines and he doesn’t fight, he really doesn’t have anything to offer a team. His off-ice interactions have revealed his true colors, and they are ugly. I hope he takes this time to learn Russian.
What Being a Pro Athlete Includes
Let us not forget the millions of kids who watch professional sports. What parent wants their child modeling themselves after a scumbag like Leipsic? I understand that there are pressures with being a role model, but this isn’t a one-time screwup. This is a pattern of behavior that proves that he is not worthy of being in a position to be a role model. Kids need to learn that it’s not okay to disrespect other people, in public or in private. They need to learn, especially if they play sports, that you need to be a good teammate, in and out of the game. Kids really need to learn that there are consequences to their actions.
Maybe the thing that bothered me the most is the sheer number of idiots on the internet defending these losers. It doesn’t matter that it was in a private group chat. You don’t say those things about other people at all. That’s common decency. It doesn’t matter that they may not be the only ones saying these things around the league. It’s still wrong, no matter how many people do it! Same goes for the drug part. And all of the guys saying that the chat was “mild” in comparison to what is said in lockerrooms outside professional sports? It’s disgusting. It’s one thing to make a comment you know was wrong and move on from it, but to repeatedly say nasty things about others to your friends to be “cool,” makes you a terrible person. You can hate me all you want for it, but I’m not wrong.
I’m glad the Capitals have let him go though I’m not fully convinced they did so just because of the messages. There needs to be a precedent set for breaches of codes of conduct in the league, and it needs to be enforced equally across the board.
It’s time to grow up and learn how to treat other people. Hockey is experiencing an overhaul this year in its culture, and those resistant to it are on their way out. Coaches were first, it’s players’ time now. Fans need to get with the program.
-Heidi Thomas (@damselondrums)