Hockey Goalie Pleads Guilty to Assault

October 8, 2009

criminal law

Chicoutimi, Quebec

Jonathan Roy pleaded guilty to simple assault in a Quebec court and was granted an absolute discharge by the judge today.  The charge stemmed from an incident during a Quebec Major Junior Hockey League playoff game in March 2009 when Quebec Remparts goaltender Jonathan Roy skated the length of the ice to fight an unwilling and defenseless Bobby Nadeau.  Roy’s attack was brutal and barbaric.  He punched Nadeau at least 14 times even while his victim lay supine on the ice. 

Roy’s guilty plea saved the court the task of balancing The Criminal Code of Canada with the playing culture of hockey.  Hockey is renowned for its violence.  What made this case interesting was that whilst hockey players generally consent to some level of violence both within and outwith the rules and accept some risk of injury, Roy’s victim did not agree to fight nor attempt to defend himself.  Incredibly, he was not injured. 

This case is unique insofar as a hockey player pleaded guilty to a charge of criminal assault for a fight in which the victim was not harmed.  A person commits an assault under s.265 of the Criminal Code when he applies force intentionally to another person, directly or indirectly, without the consent of the victim.  This clearly was the case at bar.  It is noteworthy that the sport of hockey is replete with instances where players have been injured in equally egregious circumstances but no charges are filed as it is rationalized as being all part of the game.

It’s impossible to speculate whether or not this case represents a turning point in Canadian courts’ treatment of hockey violence.  One thing for sure though, given that Roy couldn’t hurt Nadeau with a dozen-plus punches, it’s a good thing he’s hung up his skates and taken up a new career in singing.

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