While the NHL season is currently on hold, one player has found himself in boiling hot water. Brendan Leipsic, a 25-year-old winger for the Washington Capitals, was recently called out on social media after screenshots of a private direct message chat surfaced, exposing the forward’s misogynistic remarks.
In one of the screenshots posted to twitter, Leipsic makes a degrading remark about former-teammate Tanner Pearson’s wife, Meaghan Loveday, directed at a photo posted by the Vancouver Canucks official Instagram account. Members of the chat refer to multiple women with degrading and despicable diction, calling them “whores,” “fridge,” “unit,” and “trashy.” Instagram posts and stories belonging to several women were also shared in the chat, although blurred out in the leaked screenshots. Leipsic wasn’t shy in sharing his (unnecessary) thoughts on the posts, discussing the possibility of having sex with them and commenting on their make up, weight, and appearance, going so far as to call the women pigs.
But it only gets worse. Leipsic shares his experience having sex with a woman with his buddies in the chat, describing her in a demeaning manner and glorifying the interaction as a sexual conquest by referring to her as a “second kill of the night.” He even goes on to suggest that his younger brother, Jeremy Leipsic, who is also seen making degrading comments in the chat, have sex with the same woman.
Additionally, Brendan Leipsic, as well as others in the group chat, make remarks about Auston Matthews, Jake Virtanen, and even a few of Leipsic’s own teammates on the Capitals. Leipsic shares Virtanen’s post with his own commentary, “worst crew in the world,” referring to his former teammates on the Canucks. He also shares an Instagram post by the Washington Capitals of Garnet Hathaway and Nic Dowd, saying about his linemates, “fuck they’re losers.”
Although Leipsic was not the only member of the Instagram group chat making degrading and misogynistic comments, he is the most high profile. Jeremy Leipsic who is (was) a member of the University of Manitoba’s hockey team, Jack Rodewald of the Florida Panther’s organization, and Jordan Boyd who formerly played in the Eastern Manitoba Hockey League, were all members of the group chat. The screenshots of the group chat, titled “Angels zeee,” were leaked by a now-deleted and anonymous Instagram account named “angelszeee2020,” but were quickly posted to twitter and circulated around the NHL community.
Leipsic, who recorded three goals and eight assists for 11 points this season in 61 games with the Caps, issued an apology on twitter but received well-deserved criticism, as he stressed the fact that the conversations in the chat were private and the leaked screenshots were the result of a hacker as if that somehow makes his comments acceptable. The Washington Capitals organization announced on Friday, May 8th, that Leipsic would be placed on unconditional waivers to terminate his contract. His brother, Jeremy was also kicked off of the University of Manitoba men’s hockey team as a result of his remarks.
The Capitals’ response to the situation is somewhat uncharacteristic of leadership in the NHL when faced with issues of misogyny or discrimination among members of an organization. More often than not, players receive a fine or other “slap on the wrist” level punishment. Of course, they all issue a carefully crafted public relations apology on twitter, but in order to completely eradicate this behavior, stricter actions need to be taken, and the termination of Leipsic’s contact is a step in the right direction. However, it’s likely this was a result of the contract being for just one year at $700,000, and Leipsic’s low stats. If instead, a first-line player was in the limelight, the outcome would most likely be very different.
So what’s the big issue here? Some people took to twitter to dismiss Leipsic’s behavior as “locker room talk,” that this is just what goes on in most group chats between friends, and that most NHL players have said similar things. Well, that’s exactly the problem. Referring to women as “pigs” or “whores” shouldn’t be acceptable behavior whether it’s in a private group chat or on national TV. Dismissing this behavior as just “boys will be boys” completely undermines the narrative of the situation, rationalizing Leipsic’s actions.
One of the women targeted in the group chat, Nicole Zaajac, uploaded a response to Instagram to spread positivity and clap back at Leipsic’s comments, and frankly, she’s killing it.