LOS ANGELES, CA - JUNE 26: Jeremie Blain, drafted in the fourth round by the Edmonton Oilers, poses for a portrait during the 2010 NHL Entry Draft at Staples Center on June 26, 2010 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
We first heard about Jérémie Blain's suspension for "inappropriate remarks" towards Jonathan Racine via EasyOil's FanShot. Racine is black, so the logical translation for inappropriate remarks was racial epithets. While we waited for the facts of the case to surface, we avoided comment on the issue. However, a check of the QMJHL's crime blotter shows Blain's listing:
|#||Date||Name||Team||Code||Description||Opp||# gm SUSP.||Fine (Org)|
|257||12-2-11||Jérémie Blain||BAT||4.96||Racial taunts, gestures and slurs||SHA||2||$500|
Of note, it was the 257th reported incident in the QMJHL this season, though not all have been acted on by the league.
So it's racism for $500, Alex. $500 for Acadie-Bathurst, at least.
Blain was suspended for two games, and according to the Telegraph Journal, he must write a public apology. The same article quoted QMJHL Commissioner Gilles Courteau:
"The Quebec Major Junior Hockey League created an antidiscrimination policy in December of 2006 in order to ban all forms of discrimination. Our policy is based on the principle of zero tolerance and it applies to all comments which are deemed inappropriate. All of our participants must be treated with respect and dignity."
It's odd that a man in charge of a league that encourages kids to maim and beat each other demands they also treat them with respect and dignity, but I digress.
In situations like these, it's easy to forget that Blain is a teen-aged boy, and teen-aged boys are thick-skulled by definition. But by this point, he's got to know better. There is a line of thinking espoused by those who sit on panels that what happens on the ice stays on the ice, but that line of thinking is collecting dust and cobwebs. Microphones, cameras and attentive referees stand at the ready to catch over-the-top taunting, especially those involving racism.
Blain must be aware of this, not only from his own experience, but from the media coverage of NHL events from the 2011 season. Wayne Simmonds was at the center of a media storm after a neanderthal living in London, Ont threw a banana at Simmonds. As if we needed more proof of the doltish nature of young men, Simmonds, who handled bananagate with a calm steadiness, blew up on the bench after a confrontation and called Sean Avery a fargin' fastage or something similar. Not to be outdone by Simmonds' foolish, heat-of-the-moment faux pas, Avery himself was accused by both Alex Frolov and Georges Laraque of a consistent pattern of racist taunts throughout his career.
None of the aforementioned men were punished for their on-ice stupidity (Avery was punished for off-ice comments about an actress) but the media attention surrounding each incident should have served as a warning for not only Jérémie Blain, but all hockey players. You're being watched, the mics are listening, the refs are waiting. Stop with the racist and/or homophobic taunts. There are plenty of other words in the language, even profane words, available for such situations and uttering them would not end in a suspension.
If the media coverage of the previous events wasn't enough of a teaching tool, a two-game suspension and a public apology should drive it home for Blain. Be better. Start now.