We might think of Canada as a tranquil nation but the land of the maple leaf hasn’t been immune from having its share of controversial moments in sport.
Here is a list of the 10 most controversial moments in Canadian sports history:
- Denis Shapovalov, playing for Canada against Great Britain in the Davis Cup in 2017, was trailing 2-1 in the third set when he decided to smash the ball out of frustration. Unfortunately, the ball hit the umpire Arnaud Gabas in the eye, which lead to automatic disqualification. Due to this D.Q. Canada lost the match with G.B. 3-2.
- 1915 Grey Cup. The Hamilton Tigers were playing Toronto to decide who would become Dominion Champions. Referee Ewart ‘’Reddy’’ Dixon had played with the Tigers just 2 years before. What followed was a series of controversial calls that upset Toronto fans to the point that they chased him into the locker room after Hamilton won 13-7. It didn’t help that Dixon had taunted the fans from Toronto.
- The Richard Riot was not only a controversial incident involving a sport but also an ethnic clash. The Canadien’s star player was Maurice Richard and he was suspended in 1955 for hitting a linesman when playing against the Boston Bruins. The fans then responded by rioting at the Montreal Forum when the N.H.L. president Clarence Campbell made an ill-judged appearance. Article continued below
- Todd Bertuzzi struck Steve Moore from behind with his fists during an N.H.L. hockey game in 2004 between the Colorado Avalanche and the Vancouver Canucks. Moore laid unconscious on the ice for 10 minutes. What followed was a decade of lawsuits that wouldn’t end until an out of court settlement in 2014. Bertuzzi has repeatedly apologized for the attack but Moore’s career was ended by the incident.
- Alan Eagleson dragged professional hockey into the modern era by being the first executive director of the N.H.L. Player’s Association. He also promoted the Summit Series between the Soviet Union and Canada in 1972 which proved to be a huge success. Unfortunately, he was also an embezzler who skimmed money from his clients. He was disbarred as a lawyer, had his Order of Canada stripped, and went to prison.
- Don Cherry made a career out of being controversial, so it’s no surprise to see him here on this list. The former N.H.L. coach had been a pundit on Hockey Night in Canada from 1982 until 2019. What caused his exit? A rant about immigrants not buying poppies.
- Kerry Fraser was a referee in the N.H.L. who failed to give Wayne Gretzky a five-minute penalty when Gretzky hit Doug Gilmour with his stick. Gretzky then scored the winning goal in Game 6 of the Campbell Conference Final.
- Canada’s national pastime seemed to be a thing of the past during the 2012-3 N.H.L. lockout. Not a single game was played that year because the owners and the players just couldn’t come to an agreement in time.
- Mike Danton was a Canadian N.H.L. player who is famous for reasons other than hockey. Danton went to jail in the U.S. for conspiring to commit murder and served 63 months. His target was his agent David Frost.
- Ben Johnson won gold in the 1988 Olympics in the 100 m, and then he didn’t. Within one day he had tested positive for steroids and soon became the most controversial athlete in Olympic history.