After a flurry of domestic violence incidents and sexual assault allegations, the National Hockey League has mandated domestic violence, sexual assault, and sexual harassment training for all of its players according to the Associated Press.
All 30 teams will have to go through an hour-long educational session with outside professionals. The program was developed by the league and its players association, and will be completed over a two-month span.
The NHL has dealt with multiple cases regarding these types of incidents over the last year. Former Los Angeles Kings defenseman Slava Voynov was sentenced to three months in prison for violence against his wife. This summer, Chicago Blackhawks forward Patrick Kane was accused of rape in a very public trial, although no charges were filed. Just recently Buffalo Sabres forward Evander Kane was being investigated for an alleged sex crime.
The Buffalo Sabres were the first team to complete the program. Player representative Mike Weber told the Associated Press that players want to educate themselves on the topics.
”We’ve tried to take steps before the league makes it mandatory, to take those steps and educate ourselves and players around the league of certain steps we can take to help each other out, help our families out and help our teammates out, and just to be there for support.”
Rachael Smith Fals, senior vice president of public engagement and corporate relations for Futures Without Violence, has been consulting with different leagues on education. She says the NHL is heading in the right direction but recommends every member of an organization – not just players – go through such training.
”If the stuff continues to get swept under the rug and people look the other way when these things happen, it sends a message,” Smith Fals said. ”On the other hand, what’s happening now with the incidents being addressed and penalties being evoked and more importantly preventative education being implemented, that also sends a message. That’s an important message that we want certainly this generation to see and hear from their role models.
She’s got a point.
The NHL is making the right steps towards making sure their players are educated enough, but there’s still plenty of work to be done.