It’s the story that’s taken center stage this week.
The alleged bullying scandal between Miami Dolphins offensive linemen Richie Incognito and Jonathan Martin has created a media firestorm surrounding the culture of NFL locker rooms, but it’s also a topic that appears to have transcended all professional sports.
Dave Tippett, who has been in the NHL as a player and a coach for thirty years, was asked by Arizona Sports 620’s Bickley with Marotta if he’s ever seen a situation like the one currently taking place in South Beach.
“No, I haven’t heard [a story like this],” Tippett said. “I’m not sure how it works in other sports. The one difference between football and hockey, is you have so many more players. I think they carry 50 or 60 players and non-roster players on their roster.
Because of differences in roster size, Tippett added that it’s easier to foster a sense of team and community inside an NHL locker room.
“I think the difference in hockey is you have a much smaller group, a much tighter group,” said Tippett. “The culture of hockey has always been about the team. Not that there haven’t been rookies who have had to buy some meals. Things like that happen. But I can’t remember ever having a situation where a teammate really felt alienated by his other teammates. It’s an unfortunate incident.”
The incident between Incognito and Martin, which is now in the hands of the NFL and its subsequent internal investigation, has brought about a very interesting talking point.
Is there a line between hazing, a common staple in professional sports, and bullying? And if so, where is it?
As it pertains to the NHL, Tippett noted that the league has made a conscious effort to tone down the amount of hazing that goes on to the point it never comes close to even resembling bullying.
“I think the league has kind of evolved with that,” said Tippett. “The hazing when I first started in the league was probably way worse than it is now. Now, rookies might have to buy dinner or sing a funny song or something.
“I think the culture has changed to the point where it’s not demeaning. You have to treat everyone with respect, rookies included. It’s come a long way from where it used to be.”