Theo Fleury faces off with Montreal columnist

Pardon the Eruption

If Hickey deserves to be fired – I deserve a public beheading

By Terrance Gavan

Pat Hickey is a columnist for the Montreal Gazette. Worse yet, he’s a sports columnist.

Sports columnist is an oxymoron, and like ‘military intelligence’, ‘jumbo shrimp’ and ‘Harper brainstorm’ the contradictory mélange should be approached warily, and perused with a jaundiced eye.

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Theo Fleury is not talking to Gazette columnist Pat Hickey and thinks he should be fired. Theo, we think, is forgetting steps four, five, nine and 12 of the AA paradigm. Just sayin' Theo. Picture courtesy of Photobucket.

Contrarian commentarians (sic) dine extravagantly on the crumbs left by crumbs. Columnists are paid to be harsh, and earn their living by way of haughty imperiousness and self-righteous condescension.

When Pat Hickey’s column on former NHLer Theoren Fleury appeared on line at montrealgazette. com last week, it ignited a firestorm of indignant responses. Hickey had stomped on some open wounds and he was vilified on line and on air.

For the record, here’s part of what Hickey said: “Shortly after Graham James pleaded guilty to sexually assaulting former National Hockey League player Theoren Fleury…Fleury held a news conference and accusedCanada’s politicians of doing nothing to protect our children.”

Hickey quoted Fleury: “It’s just unbelievable for me when I think about what happened and that he was granted a pardon.” Fleury was referring to a pardon of his childhood molester Graham James, a convicted sex predator and hockey coach. James was convicted and served time in 1997 for the sexual assault of another player and Fleury’s teammate, Sheldon Kennedy.

Kennedy came forward when no one else would, and it exacted a toll on his own NHL career. Kennedy is now involved with Respect Group Inc., which operates online educational training for sports leaders, teachers, parents and businesses on how to recognize and then act on cases of abuse.

Hickey said, “I agree James should be doing hard time. But I find it hypocritical that Fleury can blast the justice system for giving James two months of freedom when he provided his former coach with years.”

Hickey said that if Fleury had come forward with Sheldon Kennedy, pedophile James would have served more time in jail and would never have been pardoned.

Hickey was angry and wrote about his anger with passion, backed up by some discernible contradictions in Fleury’s newfound zeal and his condemnation of the system. Fleury compounded the problem through a hidebound failure to recognize his own part in this Jamesian saga.

“Nobody should question Fleury’s decision to remain silent,” wrote Hickey. “What should be questioned is Fleury’s continuing role in James’s life. At the time of Kennedy’s revelations, James was the coach of the Calgary Hitmen. He was one of the co-owners of the junior team in the Western Hockey League. One of the other owners was Theoren Fleury. Here was someone who had suffered abuse at the hands of Graham James. Here was someone who knew that James had abused other players. Here was someone who was exposing other children to the same sexual predator.”

That prompted the firestorm and many, many calls for Hickey’s head on a pike. Readers from across the country said that Hickey should be fired. So too did Fleury. Hickey fought back with an explanatory piece in the Gazette.

“On his website Monday night, Fleury called for me to be fired,” wrote Hickey. “On Tuesday, Michael Landsberg asked me if I was willing to appear with Fleury on TSN’s Off The Record. I agreed. Fleury declined.”

Were Hickey’s points valid? Of course. Should Pat Hickey be fired for writing astutely and passionately about this subject? Of course not. Quod erat demonstrandum.

Take a look at the news pages. In the past short while, Penn State football has been dealing with very serious and disturbing sex abuse allegations, Syracuse University has an assistant coach who is on the dock for similar transgressions, Scouts Canada is being investigated for covering up cases of sexual abuse, and the RCMP is undergoing a firestorm of sexual abuse allegations that will “soon shake the windows and rattle the walls” of a once proud police force.

Hickey has every right to question Fleury’s tardiness.

The proselytizing for this problem should be done by the real heroes.

The young men and the brave women who gallantly offered themselves to disdain and ridicule and shunned their fears in order to bring these things to the light of day. For future victims!

Sheldon Kennedy and the recent epiphany of Catherine Galliford, the RCMP corporal who is proceeding with claims against the Mounties for sexual harassment and bullying, are the cogs pushing this saga.

There are heroes and disciples in every movement. We love the disciples.

But in the case of child abuse and bullying, where the consequences are so dire, we have to ask.

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