To replace the late Jim Johannson, who died in January, USA Hockey has hired former NHL and international goalie John Vanbiesbrouck as assistant executive direct of hockey operations. Aside from his on-ice play, Vanbiesbrouck might be best remembered for what he did after his 2002 retirement, when he took over the OHL’s Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds and called the team’s black captain a “nigger.”
That player was then-19-year-old Trevor Daley, who made it to the NHL and currently plays for the Detroit Red Wings. At the time, Vanbiesbrouck resigned as coach and general manager but kept his ownership stake in the Greyhounds. Daley briefly quit the team and went home to Toronto. Vanbiesbrouck admitted that he used the slur multiple times:
Vanbiesbrouck confirmed using the slur, telling The Sault Star, “I used the n-word instead of calling him Trevor.” Vanbiesbrouck acknowledged using it “more than once.”
How much has changed in the OHL? This season, a Red Wings prospect had to travel with a police escort following a flood of racist abuse and threats.
After the fallout, Vanbiesbrouck worked as an analyst on TV and in 2013 became general manager of the USHL’s Muskegon Lumberjacks. Now, the executive who once called a 19-year-old black player a racial slur is an executive for a wider pool of players in a much more prominent organization.
“It is really exciting to get someone with John’s background,” USA Hockey President Jim Smith said in the press release. Indeed.