Island hockey player's suspension drawing national attention, criticism

·2 min read
Keegan Mitchell came to the defence of a teammate who was the victim of an anti-Asian slur during a hockey game in December. (CBC/Zoom - image credit)
Keegan Mitchell came to the defence of a teammate who was the victim of an anti-Asian slur during a hockey game in December. (CBC/Zoom - image credit)

Hockey P.E.I.'s suspension of a player for posting on social media about racism continues to draw reaction from across the country, from Hockey Night in Canada, sports networks, and even in a tweet from Canadian singer k.d. lang.

Former Hockey P.E.I. president Gordie Lund has also weighed in, saying the organization over-reacted to the comments posted by 20-year-old player Keegan Mitchell of Charlottetown.

Mitchell was reacting to a two-game suspension handed to a member of the Kensington Vipers Junior B team for an anti-Asian racial slur aimed at one of Mitchell's teammates.

Mitchell also received a two-game suspension when he slashed the offending player's leg. In a social media post, Mitchell said he was defending his teammate and criticized Hockey P.E.I. for its handling of the situation.

As a result of the post, Mitchell is now facing an indefinite suspension due to violating the social media code of conduct set out by the organization.

"@Hockey PEI. C'mon. Do better," tweeted lang on Jan. 8.

Lund said Hockey P.E.I. has opened a "can of worms" with its decision.

"Keegan basically told the truth about his situation that he was involved in," Lund said.

"My opinion is he didn't discredit anybody and he definitely is sticking up for what he believes in — being a friend and player, teammate, basically came out and told the truth and is suspended indefinitely without a hearing … the social media rules, it's hard to stop."

This is allyship, this is bystander's training and he did an exceptional job. — MLA Gord McNeilly

MLA Gord McNeilly said he hopes Mitchell's suspension is reversed.

"This is allyship, this is bystander's training and he did an exceptional job … I hope that he appeals."

Hockey P.E.I. officials were not available for comment Monday.

Last week, they said that Mitchell's post violated their social media policy by publicly criticizing referees and Hockey P.E.I.'s disciplinary process.

Hockey P.E.I. has handed down other decisions in recent months involving racism and homophobia. Shortly after the fall season began, three boys were disciplined for the online bullying of a young player. One player was suspended from hockey for a year.

Two other cases involving homophobic remarks have resulted in five-game suspensions.

An incident where a goalie from Halifax said he was the victim of a racial slur while playing in a game on the Island is also being investigated.

Last month, McNeilly called on the province to appoint an independent commissioner to deal with issues around systemic racism.

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