Some hazing defended

TERRY KOSHAN -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 9:44 AM ET

Darcy Tucker couldn't help but wonder yesterday.

The Maple Leafs winger responded to the severe punishment handed to Windsor Spitfires general manager/coach Moe Mantha by Ontario Hockey League commissioner David Branch on Tuesday and made it clear he does not have trouble with some forms of hazing.

Branch banned Mantha from his GM duties for the rest of the season and suspended him for a total of 40 games as coach for a hazing incident and a fight during practice between two Spits. The Spitfires also were fined $35,000 for the incidents.

"I don't know what has gone on there, but if what is being said is accurate, I find it's an (overreaction), what they did to Moe Mantha," said Tucker, who spent four seasons with the Kamloops Blazers of the Western Hockey League in the early 1990s before graduating to pro hockey.

"I don't care where you have played or what you have done, you have had some initiation of some sort. We've all done it, all been through it."

Members of the Spits were forced to strip by their teammates and were crammed into a washroom on the team bus in a ritual known as hot-boxing. Tucker would not go into specifics, but it was clear that it did not seem like a big deal to him.

"If that is the biggest thing guys had to go through in their junior careers, there would be a lot of veteran guys in the NHL laughing right now," Tucker, 30, said. "I find what happened with the hazing at McGill (where there were allegations of sexual assault with a broomstick) a thousand times worse than what (the Windsor players) went through. I don't agree with certain types of hazing. If my son (Cole) was involved in a situation like went on at McGill, I would be irate."

Leafs rookie Kyle Wellwood, who was born in Windsor and played for the Spits, clearly was disturbed by the incident with the Spits. But do things happen? You bet.

"It's definitely sad, especially being from that city," Wellwood said. "It is a black eye. (But) you see it and you hear about it. All the things (teams) do is not in the public eye, but if people start speaking out, you will hear it from everybody that it always has been going on."

But just because it's occurring does not make hazing right, Leafs coach Pat Quinn said. There is not much more in the NHL today for rookies than having to foot the bill for an expensive team dinner; even rituals such as body shaving have mostly gone by the wayside. Quinn fully supported Branch's decision.

"I guess hazing has been around since Plato's time, but it does not make it right," Quinn said. "It is distasteful to me."

Phoenix Coyotes coach Wayne Gretzky agreed.

"There's no room for it," said Gretzky, the NHL's career scoring leader. "It's just wrong. It's hard enough for a 16-year-old. There's no room for it.

"It's the most ridiculous thing in sports. It's hard enough for a young guy to go into a locker room," Gretzky said.

Tie Domi, to no one's shock, didn't have to worry about being hazed.

"I was tougher when I was younger so when they tried to get met I threatened everybody," Domi said.


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