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The University of Ottawa just suspended its men’s hockey team for an alleged gang sexual assault on a lone female victim in Thunder Bay. (It’s worth noting that, hours before, four University of Ottawa student politicians resigned after a leaked Facebook conversation showed them discussing the finer points of sodomizing the student president). The allegation, although unproven in court, is a shocking development akin to the Steubenville incident. To me, it has the all too familiar hallmarks of an atavistic ritual hockey players are known for where I’m from: road trips and gangbangs.
Like anybody from a Canadian suburb or small town, I knew enough hockey players to figure out that Tim Horton’s propaganda sanitizes real hockey culture. Instead of toothless grins and hot chocolates before practice, think beer bongs and misogyny. Typical junior hockey players I knew liked chewing tobacco, puck bunnies, and “lamb roasts,” (also known as building “The Eiffel Tower”) the alias for barely-consensual group sex. Evidence of these conquests is in forgotten headlines and lists of rapes and cover-ups that have left broken girls all over Canada.
The chronic problem of sexual predation in junior hockey dressing rooms lies at the root of a damaged junior hockey system. At present, players are drafted at sixteen into major junior leagues all over the country, forcing them to leave their parents at a crucial and hormonal age to live in billets in small towns. Veterans on their team are partially responsible for socializing fresh faced teens into men, meaning it’s a free-for-all in places where players are local gods, school is for pussies, and women are only good for “gummers.”
During the early 2000s, hockey players obsessed over what started as an email chain between junior players across Canada and the US, exchanging war stories about their shared experiences playing a game that became the sideshow to a sexual circus. The emails have been compiled into a twisted document now known as The Junior Hockey Bible, which offers the clearest window into a hidden subculture and the universal artefact guiding player behaviour.
Dripping with vitriol and offensive, reductive imagery, The Junior Hockey Bible reads like a sexual assault guide book. It contains a variety of gross terminology like “Swamp Donkey,” which in pervy junior hockey speak translates to a “species [that] lurks in the depths of the bar scene and in rezes across the nation.”
The Bible is rife with dehumanizing descriptions like that, and it goes on and on for pages. It also provides insults for junior hockey players to tear each other down with on the ice, like this definition for “Shit-Teeth,” which is used in conversation as such: “Nice Shit-Teeth, buddy. It looks like your tongue is in jail, faggot.”
The Bible is hosted on a blog called “Top Shelf,” a site that links readers to the Disney Channel if they can’t “take a joke” and advises its readers to “take this wisdom wisely, boys.” The Junior Hockey Bible provides the basis for an alternative hockey language providing outlandish names for blowjobs, different sex moves like the Tony Danza, the Mystery Hand (grabbing the breasts of an unsuspecting victim who is being doubly penetrated by teammates), along with a sickening alternative known as the “Chili Dog.”
The sinister wit of the text provides a striking indictment of junior hockey culture: I’ve seen hockey players who were freshly drafted into the NHL or toiling in Junior C, knowingly or unknowingly, make reference to The Junior Hockey Bible. Besides degrading teammates known as “Dusters” (players who collect dust on the end of the bench) and coaches, the Bible’s clearest targets are unsuspecting females. The narrator calls on players to sexually eviscerate women with bonus points for filming the act or “sharing” her with a teammate. There are oblique references to a “wife,” amounting to a stereotypically masculine fantasy of a girl that’s pure and untouched by teammates. Other than that, women are considered to be tradable sex objects; fodder for pleasure during the beer soaked mayhem in local bars after hockey games.
The common thread here is a malignant air of invincibility corrupting the team mentality: players police each other, forcing others to comply with the values of the pack. In this context, team culture breeds rape culture, and the Junior Hockey Bible provides the framework, glorifying what amounts to actual crimes. In a world where gang rape is redefined to be an extracurricular activity, some of these players view serious crimes as a team building experience—while dehumanizing the victim is simply a rhetorical trope. Instead of asking serious questions about hockey culture, we reduce hockey to jingoistic ads, and the pattern continues: NHL players’ slut-shame women, sex-assault runs rampant in the OHL, and upsetting stories like the alleged University of Ottawa assault continue to emerge.