By Bryanna McDermott | The Duquesne Duke
The Montreal Canadiens cannot catch a break. The 2015-16 season has been riddled with drama from goalie, Carey Price’s, injury to defenseman, P.K. Subban’s, profanity- filled outburst over goal scoring “not being his job.” The latest incident to add to the list: a domestic violence case involving forward Alex Galchenyuk as the victim.
Montreal police arrested Chanel Leszczynski, Galchenyuk’s girlfriend, on domestic violence charges on Jan. 10, according to Montreal newspaper La Presse. The altercation occurred at Galchenyuk’s apartment during a party he hosted after the Canadiens’ 3-1 loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins. Leszczynski was arrested as the instigator of the fight; however, Galchenyuk did not press charges. The case is being reviewed by the Director of Criminal and Penal Prosecutions as standard protocol for domestic disputes.
As the Galchenyuk case unfolded, the media showed a clear difference between how it treats the victim and the perpetrator in professional sports.
When Chicago Blackhawks forward, Patrick Kane, was accused of rape earlier in the season, the media, league and fans rallied behind him as an innocent man. “Innocent until proven guilty,” became the catchphrase of the case as questions arose about the victim’s intentions. Female journalists covering the case were threatened and the victim was harassed with demeaning accusations. When a Chicago sports blog released the victim’s name, she dropped the case for her own health.
In Galchenyuk’s case, the media made light of his situation through name calling. Journal de Montreal used the story to post a page of revealing photos of Leszczynski, while spreading rumors that Galchenyuk was cheating on Leszczynski and “deserved it.” Other outlets criticized him for partying and putting himself in the situation.
During the Kane case, the worry was on how it would affect his reputation off the ice and his performance with the team. Kane lost the cover of NHL 16 during the incident, but was still voted captain for the NHL All-Star Game. With Galchenyuk, a sense of blame was cast on him for creating another distraction for the team, despite being the victim.
“He’ll learn,” stated Montreal head coach, Michel Therrien. “All kids make mistakes.”
Later in the week, Galchenyuk came out with a formal apology. “I feel bad for the incident,” he said. “I feel bad for my teammates, the organization and the fans. It’s a lesson in life.”
Why would a victim of domestic abuse have to apologize? He’s a 21-year old who had a small party. It doesn’t matter if he was cheating on his girlfriend, nobody deserves abuse. He did the right thing by having the police called, instead of engaging in the violence. Being a victim of abuse doesn’t require an apology.
Around 834,732 men are victims of domestic abuse each year, according to the CDC. That’s about 1 case every 38 seconds. However, many men who face abuse never come forward due to a fear of shame and emasculation from the public. Those who do come forward are often treated as “second class” victims, with their cases almost never seeing a court room.
“In this case, some of the more toxic elements of hockey culture are likely to exacerbate the problem of men being mocked and belittled — or at minimum, not taken seriously — when they are abused by an intimate partner,” explained Katie and Tanya of Pension Plan Puppets.
The NHL implemented a mandatory domestic violence and sexual assault prevention program earlier this month, but it lacked in how to respond to being the victim. The Montreal Canadiens and the NHL had a chance to step up and be proactive on the issue, but they chose to take a step back and blame the victim. Galchenyuk could be a great spokesperson to bring domestic violence against men into the public eye and help other victims come forward.
The NHL has become a league that awards alleged perpetrators, while making victims the punch-line of inappropriate jokes.