Buzzing The Net

Owen Sound Attack goalie Brandon Hope’s Twitter gaffe tests OHL’s social media policy

Neate Sager
Buzzing The Net

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Hope is the Attack's backup goalie (OHL Images)

Earlier this season, the Ontario Hockey League suspended official Joe Monette for the rest of this season for a Tweet that was in poor taste.

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HopeTweet

It's one thing for the league to sanction an official under its policies regarding social media and use of offensive language. Officials, after all, are more replaceable than one of a team's two goalies and they're supposed to do their job so well that no one notices who was there. It might be another for the OHL when it's critical member of a team one week before the playoffs who made a racist comment on Twitter, even though he nearly immediately walked it back.

Owen Sound Attack backup goaltender Brandon Hope, by all accounts, is deeply sorry about a comment he made on Twitter on Wednesday. Saying sorry doesn't undo it, though. It was something that 18- and 19-year-olds who might not have garnered enough life experience to realize why it's important to have a sensitivity about race and ethnicity sometimes say, when they forget they're in a public forum.

When Monette got the boot, OHL commissioner David Branch's statement said in part that the ref's action "not only contravened the league's social networking policy, but as well was detrimental to the welfare of the league, the officiating staff and fans of the OHL." The rank-and-file of fans probably don't care what Hope said, but it's probably not good for a league which is trying to demonstrate that is inclusive to players and fans of all background to have a player make such a comment about people of South Asian descent.

This isn't about Hope, really. It's about wondering whether the OHL will be hardline about it. Hope is the Attack's backup goalie, but if star Jordan Binnington got injured, he would have to carry the load in net. Would the OHL go so far to issue a suspension? In the past, the league has punished players who have used racial epithets and homophobic slurs during games. In 2004, Plymouth Whalers defenceman James Wisniewski was suspended five games for using the term "Euro" against one of his opponents. In 2006, Ottawa's Brett Liscomb was also suspended five games for calling an opponent a "fag." 

One could argue that on some level, Monette deserved to be held a harsher standard since he's a fully grown adult and an official who should avoid any appearance of bias against one city (i.e., if he makes cracks about the women of Sault Ste. Marie, how does that affect his attitude toward the Greyhounds?). Keep in mind Monette, wrong as he was, meant his remark only for a friend. Hope might have been putting that out there for anyone who follows him to read.

Neate Sager is a writer for Yahoo! Canada Sports. Follow him on Twitter @neatebuzzthenet. Please address any questions, comments or concerns to btnblog@yahoo.ca.

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