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Only in Canada? A political attack over hockey fights prompts apology

Only in Canada? A political attack over hockey fights prompts apology
From CBC - November 14, 2017

Former NHL player Troy Crowder took a lot of hits during his hockey career, and now, as a candidate in Ontario's next provincial election, he's fending off political blows.

Last week, Crowder unexpectedly found himself the subject of a Liberal attack against Progressive Conservative Leader Patrick Brown. The former right winger was put on defence, all over his record as a fighter on the ice more than two decades ago.

"At first I thought it was a hoax," Crowder said in a phone interview in between charity hockey games on Friday.

"I did not think that my hockey career or who I fought or who I won against or did not win against would be much of a concern. It was kind of a shock to me more than anything," said Crowder, who is the PC candidate in Sudbury. He will be trying to unseat Energy Minister Glenn Thibeault when Ontarians vote next June.

What happened might be considered one of the most stereotypical Canadian political squabbles of all time: a party uses a hockey fight to attack their opponent and ends up apologizing for it.

The governing Liberals, who are trailing the PCs in the polls, have a website and social media accounts called "Facts Still Matter in Ontario," which they use to regularly accuse Brown of spreading misinformation.

Last Wednesday, they sent out an email blast called "Who Won The Fight?" and it said Brown "claimed" in a speech the day before that in Crowder's rookie year he "beat up" Bob Probert, who was one of the NHL's toughest fighters.

Crowder defends fighting record

The "fact," according to the Liberals, was that "Troy Crowder did not fight Bob Probert in his rookie year. It's also debatable who won when they actually did fight."

The YouTube link below the statement shows a fight between Crowder, playing for the New Jersey Devils at the time, and Probert in 1990.

It's hard to see how there is any debate about who won that fight. Crowder pulls Probert's jersey over his face and lands one punch after another before the referees break them apart.

The commentators call it a "major moral victory for the New Jersey Devils" and say "Probert took the worst of that one" as he skates off the ice with a bloody face.

The second problem with the Liberals'fact check was that it was wrong. Crowder said he knows every time he fought Probert.

"They are memorable occasions in my mind," he said.

Crowder issued a statement that said it's disappointing the Liberals were wasting time talking about his hockey career 27 years ago instead of hydro rates, but nonetheless, he would set the record straight.

"Yes, I fought Bob Probert three times in my rookie season," Crowder wrote. He went on to say how he was a fighter then, and he's a fighter now for the people in his community.

Liberals slammed as 'petty'

@GlennThibeault

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