The standards of the hockey rink where physical intimidation is an acceptable course of action don’t apply to civilized society, a provincial court judge told an owner of the Campbell River Storm.
Kevin Spooner’s aggressive and confrontational behaviour towards the coach and the 66-year-old owner of the Comox Valley Glacier Kings in a number of incidents last year has earned the Storm co-owner a one-year peace bond.
Judge Ted Gouge ruled Dec. 17 that Dave Webb, 66, and his wife Marsha have reason to fear Spooner after a confrontation occurred over a dispute over compensation for a hockey player that the Glacier Kings had signed.
“He is clearly of the opinion that, when hockey issues are at stake, physical intimidation is an appropriate communication strategy,” Judge Gouge wrote in his Dec. 17 Reasons for Judgement. “Encouraged by the traditions of his sport, he believes that aggressive confrontations, in which his size and bad temper are intimidating factors, are an appropriate way of resolving disputes.”
The judge said as his findings of fact that on Jan. 24, 2014, Spooner confronted Webb in the concourse of the Rod Brind’Amour Arena. Spooner was angry over the Glacier Kings’ recruitment of a player who once played for the Storm. Intent on pressing his claim for compensation, Spooner shouted profanities at Webb and behaved in a very aggressive manner, the judge said.
“As he parted from Mr. Webb, he struck him a trifling blow on the head which caused no injury,” Judge Gouge said.
Later that day, the judge said, Spooner confronted Glacier Kings Coach Joey Ewing outside the arena and by words and gestures, “expressed his willingness to engage in a fist fight. No fight ensued because Mr. Ewing displayed appropriate self restraint.”
Then again in April, 2014, Spooner confronted Ewing over the player issue. During that confrontation, he pushed Ewing hard enough to cause Ewing to lose his balance. Storm Coach Lee Stone intervened after which Spooner “said something about wanting to smash Mr. Ewing in the face,” the judge said.
In each incident, Spooner “completely lost his temper and employed foul language in a loud tone of voice.”
The judge said Spooner believes that his conduct is defensible because “this is hockey and feelings run high.”
“A propensity for violence and a gift for physical intimidation are highly-valued qualities among hockey players,” the judge said. “Mr. Spooner believes it appropriate to exhibit those qualities in the course of business dealings off the ice and sought to intimidate Mr. and Ms. Webb and Mr. Ewing on the occasions described.”
The judge concluded that it is reasonable to infer that Spooner is likely to behave in a similar fashion if he encounters the Webbs in the future. However, there is no reason to believe that he is likely to inflict any physical injury on either Dave or Marsha Webb.
“In considering his future course of action, Mr. Spooner would be well advised to bear in mind that he committed a criminal assault of Mr. Webb by striking him, and of Mr. Ewing by pushing him, and that he would probably have been convicted of those assaults if the Crown had chosen to charge him,” Judge Gouge said. “Civilized society does not live by the standards of the hockey rink, where such assaults are an accepted part of the game.”
Spooner’s defence counsel pointed out that no further incidents have occurred since April 2014 and the confrontation with Webb was (at the time of the judgement) 10 months ago.
The judge ruled that for one year, Spooner is to keep the peace and be of good behaviour, not communicate directly with the Webbs in any way, only indirectly in writing, and is not to approach with 10 metres of either of the Webbs nor approach within 500 metres of their home.