On Nov. 5, the Ottawa Citizen released a video that included footage of seven Ottawa Senators — Matt Duchene, Thomas Chabot, Alex Formenton, Dylan DeMelo, Colin White, Chris Tierney, and Chris Wideman — riding in an Uber van. In the video, the players discussed the club’s poor performance on the penalty kill, as well as the coach in charge of special teams, Martin Raymond. The players were filmed without consent or knowledge of the recording.
Katie Strang of The Athletic reported on November 7th that the Uber driver, who has been identified as James Sparklin, has had multiple run-ins with the law. In 1999, Sparklin was convicted on a misdemeanor charge of assault and spent eight days in jail. In 2012, he entered a plea agreement for a misdemeanor assault and disorderly conduct, but it is not stated whether or not he spent jail time for this.
Unfortunately for the Ottawa Senators, the story may not be done developing yet. There may be more unreleased video from the players’ Uber ride, according to Renaud Lavoie of TVA Sports.
“Have we seen everything? What I am told is that no. There is a part that is even more compromising,” Lavoie says in French.
Given how much attention the situation has already garnered, any additional footage could make this matter much worse.
What we already knew
The Ottawa Citizen, the publication responsible for publishing the footage, rejected the Senators’ request to have the video removed. Editor in chief Michelle Richardson had this to say about the decision, according to the Canadian Press.
“The public interest in the Senators as an organization extends beyond the team’s performance on the ice,” Richardson noted. “The organization is involved in one of the biggest development projects in Ottawa’s history, a project that hinges on the Senators being here to play in a downtown arena. On-ice performance, ticket sales, attendance, discord in the locker room and public support of the organization are all relevant when it comes to discussing the overall health of the team.”
The driver was upset about the tip, or lack thereof from the players, according to Elliotte Friedman. After this, he began tweeting the video to reporters while also labeling the group as “cheap entitled kids.”
Since the incident occurred, the players involved did issue an apology.
“We want to apologize publicly to Marty Raymond, our teammates and coaches for our comments in Phoenix Arizona on October 29. Our private conversation was recorded without our knowledge or consent. We’re passionate about our team, and focusing on growing together. We are grateful for the support of our fans and organization. This is an important learning experience, and we will do better.”
The team’s head coach, Guy Boucher, had this to say about the matter.
“Nothing is more important to us during this rebuild than making sure our players and coaches are fully committed to our plan, our values and our system of play. We have every confidence in Marty Raymond’s coaching; in the effort and determination of our team; and in the sincerity of our players’ apology. We are now treating this as a team matter, and will be making no further comment to the media.”
This incident didn’t just strike a chord with hockey fans — it raised red flags for anybody who values their right to privacy (i.e. everybody).
“Clearly the individuals didn’t know they were being recorded, or that it would be disclosed to the entire world on the Internet… It’s such a flagrant abuse of privacy and it’s completely unethical,” Ontario’s former privacy commissioner Ann Cavoukian told Yahoo Finance.
Naturally, when a story like this occurs, many are going to jump in and give their opinion on the matter, and there have been many players — current and former — and coaches from around the league who have added their opinion.
Jakub Voracek: “You go out for a beer, you go out for dinner, it happens. The coaches vent about the players when they go out to dinner about who f—ing sucks, who’s playing bad, who’s playing better. It happens everywhere. So now it comes out, they’re making a big deal. I don’t think they said anything bad, just that their PK and their PP sucks.”
Speaking about the Uber driver specifically, Voracek also said this:
“You’re an Uber driver, drive cars. Don’t try to sell copies to make some money. Get the f— out of here. You know what I mean, he’s a loser.”
Ryan Reaves: “I would never expect a cab ride conversation to be made public, but that’s the world we live in right now. Everybody’s a snitch.”
Anson Carter: “I don’t trust any of these drivers,” he says. “You wouldn’t expect them to throw you under the bus since they’re paid to take you from Point A to Point B, but now I know.”
Sens fans don’t fret! Chats like that happen all the time. Just Sucks it’s on video.
I have never been in a coaches room…but no doubt they rip the players behind close doors. It’s not a big deal.
— Mike Commodore (@commie22) November 6, 2018
Every team in NHL history has had a cab full of guys ripping the coach or GM. That’s a fact. What a compete scumbag move releasing that video
— Ryan Whitney (@ryanwhitney6) November 6, 2018
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