Former NHLers Mike Commodore, left, and Curtis Glencross stand outside the Gary W. Harris Canada Games Centre in Red Deer Friday morning. Photo by SEAN MCINTOSH/Advocate staff

Former NHLer Mike Commodore visits Red Deer, discusses players calling out allegedly abusive coaches

Former NHLer Mike Commodore says he’s happy to see hockey players take a stand against abusive coaching.

Commodore was in Red Deer on Friday to get the keys to a pickup truck he won in a raffle through the eighth annual Glencross Invitational Charity Roughstock event, when he discussed the growing trend of hockey coaches being accused of verbally and physically abusive behaviour.

“It’s a touchy subject. I am happy players are speaking out. But I hope it doesn’t turn into (a witch hunt),” said Commodore.

“I hope it doesn’t turn into something where people say, ‘So and so said this to me.’ (But) if it’s racial or something like that, it’s completely different and that’s completely offside.”

Commodore played 484 games in the NHL, racking up 23 goals and 106 points. He played in New Jersey, Calgary, Carolina, Ottawa, Columbus, Detroit and Tampa Bay.

Calgary Flames head coach Bill Peters resigned Friday, about a week after former prospect Akim Aliu accused him of using a racial slur while playing for the Rockford Ice Hogs of the AHL in 2010.

Peters later apologized in an open letter to Flames GM Brad Treliving “and the entire Calgary Flames organization, for offensive language I used in a professional setting a decade ago.”

Commodore said 10 years ago, he was playing in Columbus alongside black hockey player Anson Carter.

“If I would’ve walked into the dressing room and said what Bill Peters allegedly said, I would be horrified. I would never do it. It was just as wrong then as it is now,” said Commodore.

Peters was also accused of kicking and punching players on the bench while coaching the Carolina Hurricanes.

Commodore said he enjoys having “tough coaches … but there are lines.”

“If you’re sitting on the bench and your head coach in dress shoes boots you in the lower back, that’s not right. If he decks you, that’s not right. There are lines – how you define the lines, I don’t know,” he said.

“But to me, there’s right and there’s wrong. If you’re a coach and you don’t understand that kicking a player in that fashion is wrong, you shouldn’t be coaching. That’s my opinion.

“There’s no room for that, period.”

Ron MacLean, who will be in Red Deer this weekend for Rogers Hometown Hockey, said “an intriguing set of conversations” are sure to follow in the coming months.

“It’s a time for a really important conversation and it feels like a watershed moment,” said MacLean.

“It’s an informative phase that we’re in. I’d just say don’t rush to judgment, don’t let your bias take down the ability of another to communicate.

“I hope something good is coming, and usually it does out of this kind of cataclysm.”

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