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THN.com Blog: Culture of junior hockey has coaches and managers in full control

Patrick Roy's Quebec Remparts are in a heated series with the Chicoutimi Sagueneens. (Photo by Richard Wolowicz/Getty Images)

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Patrick Roy's Quebec Remparts are in a heated series with the Chicoutimi Sagueneens. (Photo by Richard Wolowicz/Getty Images)

Despite Patrick Roy's downplaying of his level of involvement in a Quebec League brawl on the weekend, I’m not buying what the Hall of Famer is selling.

After the brawl, in which his son Jonathan attacked the opposing goalie during a lopsided playoff loss, Roy maintained he did nothing to encourage his son to escape the grasp of an on-ice official and skate the length of the ice to challenge Chicoutimi goaltender Bobby Nadeau.

Video replays possibly show otherwise, but I’m not totally convinced there’s a smoking gun on that one.

But the thing that really gets me is Roy saying afterward he “can’t control the reactions of my players in the heat of the action.”

If there’s one thing the father of the player, and the coach, GM and owner of a junior team has over a player, it’s control. The culture of junior hockey for the vast majority of players is you do what the coach says and you keep your mouth shut.

The operators of junior hockey teams have such incredible control over their players it’s ludicrous to suggest Roy didn’t have any influence over the situation. These are young kids, who are probably the most impressionable, malleable and vulnerable in the game. They all want to play in the NHL some day and if a Hall of Famer who has control over their destiny is providing the direction, they’re going to follow it.

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Why else do you think these kids make far less per hour than a 16-year-old working the beverage machine at McDonald’s and nary a peep of protest is ever heard? Why is it the Canadian Hockey League generates millions of dollars in profits every time the World Junior Championship is held in Canada and the players who make it so lucrative never complain that they don’t see a dime of that money?

Because junior hockey players know if they step out of line even a little bit, they could be jeopardizing their futures in the game, that’s why.

I don’t definitively know whether Patrick Roy gestured to his son to skate down the ice and challenge Bobby Nadeau during that brawl. But I do know his assertion that he has no control over his players is a bunch of malarkey.

Ken Campbell is a senior writer for The Hockey News and a regular contributor to THN.com. His blog appears Tuesdays and Fridays and his column, Campbell's Cuts, appears Mondays.

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