Paul Gadzikowski

More of the hockey dad story than the media tells you

This is by no means an attempt to set out the hockey dad story in complete detail. But just because my wife watched the trial on CourtTV I know more details than the tv news commentators seem to know, to judge from their reporting.

The defendant arrived at his 10-year-old's hockey practice to take him home when he was done. The defendant's boy's team were playing a team of 12-to-13-year-olds. When the older boys began losing they began beating up on the younger boys. The defendant went to the adult supervisor present - the "victim" - and took exception to his permitting this. The supervisor declined to break the fight up ("Hockey is hitting" is his quoted reply). I believe the defendant ended up breaking it up himself. I do know that the supervisor's boy or boys were on the team of older boys.

When practice was over the defendant joined his boy in the locker room. The supervisor started a pushing match with him. Yes, started it even though the defendant outweighed him by about a hundred pounds. (People argue - I gather - "Why would a man of about 180 pounds start a fight with a man of about 260?" Well, this 180-pounder had a criminal history, which we know the judge in this case to have found relevant enough to allow testimony about it, which suggests it was a history of violent crime or of criminal violence.) The defendant retreated outside the building to wait for his boy.

When his boy hadn't left the building after another ten minutes, the defendant became concerned and returned inside. The supervisor jumped him. The way the two of them ended up on the floor was that the supervisor was on the defendant's back, choking him and kicking the backs of his knees. On the floor the defendant punched the supervisor three times, then he gathered his boy and left. The supervisor died of his injuries two or three days later.

The media seem to be painting the story as an unfair fight in which the supervisor was obviously a victim, merely on the basis of the relative weight of the principals of the incident. They seem entirely uninterested in the whole facts of the story: on a CourtTV call-in talk show, one of the defendant's neighbors reported that every other news outlet she called in order to speak in his favor hung up on her. I heard a newstalk personality imply the defendant is a bully because his son testified on his behalf. The man is not a bully. He tried to walk away. When pushed too far he tried only to disable. If you'd watched the trial instead of the newsbytes you'd know he's far from without remorse.

I watched the announcement of the verdict by the jury with my wife. The defendant was pronounced guilty of one charge of involuntary manslaughter (and not pronounced guilty of two charges of voluntary manslaughter). I think that's just. But if he had been pronounced not guilty of all charges on grounds of self-defense I'd have thought that was just too, and I wonder if an appeal isn't in order.

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