If actions speak louder than words, how come Brent Bowers is out of a job as manager of the Edmonton Capitals and, as of today, Nikolai Khabibulin, who faces a charge of extreme DUI, is a member in good standing with the Edmonton Oilers?
The answer, of course, in the ongoing case of Khabibulin is due process, for starters, and the assumption of innocence until an accused is proven guilty. Two pretty fundamental and important reasons right off the hop. It’s a rhetorical question, really.
It’s an interesting juxtaposition, though, that Bowers is out the door on his ear in a hurry — he resigned — after uttering anti-gay slurs during a Golcen Golden League Baseball game between the Capitals and Orange County Flyers while Khabibulin awaits due process on his DUI.
Patrick LaForge, Oilers president and governor of the Capitals, who are also owned by Daryl Katz, rightfully called the loutish tirade by Bowers "unacceptable" and accepted his resignation.
I can only assume we’ll have to wait until after Khabibulin’s trial for an official reaction from the Oilers on the acceptability of Khabibulin’s alleged conduct.
WORDS AS WEAPONS
Here’s the entire account of the Bowers incident from reporter Jennifer Fong in Sunday’s Edmonton Journal.
"The Edmonton Capitals announced Saturday that manager Brent Bowers has resigned following allegations he went on a homophobic tirade during a recent game in California.
"Unfortunately, Brent’s activities in our terms went beyond what’s acceptable," said Capitals Governor Patrick LaForge.
There have been media reports that Bowers called Golden Baseball League umpire Billy Van Raaphorst “a f—ing faggot,” and screamed profanities during a July 31 game between the Capitals and the Orange County Flyers in Fullerton, Calif.
During a news conference Saturday afternoon, LaForge said he had read Van Raaphorst’s report on the incident, but LaForge did not describe the nature of the field manager’s outburst or what exactly was said. He said there was "no physical contact that we know of" involved.
"What we’ve read from the report is just unacceptable for umpires, unacceptable activity to be watched or heard by our fans in pro sport," said LaForge. “Certainly, Mr. Bowers is completely, completely emotional and distraught about what had happened, that it came out of his mouth, and it certainly puts a tarnish on an otherwise pretty clean career. Nonetheless, it’s an unacceptable incident."
The Golden Baseball League suspended Bowers for the remainder of the season Friday after completing an investigation into the incident.
"We support the Golden Baseball League in their decision to suspend him for the balance of the season and we further support Brent’s decision to resign," said LaForge, who noted the Capitals did not ask Bowers to resign. “I think he got it out of his mouth before we asked … he took it upon himself to resign."
Gordon Gerlach, Director of Baseball Operations and Hitting Coach, will take over Bowers’ duties for the rest of the season.
LaForge said the Edmonton Oilers organization, which the Capitals is a part of, is now looking into conducting cultural diversity training with members of both its baseball and hockey arms."
OVER TO YOU, NIKOLAI
Khabibulin, meanwhile, certainly has a right to due process and the assumption that he’s innocent until proven guilty. I’m wondering, though, if we’ll hear a similar condemnation from the Oilers, should Khabibulin be convicted of what he’s charged with.
Most of the buzz surrounding Khabibulin in these parts is centred around whether the Oilers can or should attempt to have his contract voided, if he’s found guilty. If convicted on the extreme DUI charge, Khabibulin is looking at a minimum of 30 days in jail.
Could the Oilers seek to have Khabibulin’s contract voided? Yes. Would that send the NHLPA and legions of lawyers into action? You think? Should the Oilers pursue the possibility, faint as it might be? People far more learned than I on these matters can have at that debate.
I just want to know this much: if Khabibulin is convicted, will anybody from Oilers management stand up, look him in the eye and tell him — whether they have to pay him and play him or not — what he did, at the very least, is "unacceptable?"
Listen to Robin Brownlee Wednesdays and Thursdays from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. on the Jason Gregor Show on TEAM 1260.