OTTAWA -- I received an open letter yesterday addressed to Allan Rock. It came from one of the suspended University of Ottawa hockey players.
And as I read the letter, two thoughts occurred to me.
This person is hurting. And this person is young.
The letter was written by Pat Burns. He’s a local boy, played for the Orléans Blues and the Ottawa Junior Senators, before going to the University of Ottawa, where he has helped anchor the Gee-Gees blue line the past five seasons.
Or nearly five seasons. Burns, along with every other player on the team, was suspended March 3, amid news Thunder Bay Police were investigating an alleged sexual assault in that city that involved members of the hockey team.
That investigation is ongoing. As is an internal review by the University of Ottawa.
What is not ongoing are the plans Pat Burns had for his final year at the University of Ottawa. I’ll quote from his letter.
“On March 26th, 2014 the Sports Services department held a reception to honour and recognize the contributions of graduating Gee-Gee athletes. I was informed that I was no longer invited to attend the reception due to suspension of the program.
“. . .I attempted to speak with the University President, Mr. Allan Rock, in hopes he would rectify the situation. On March 24th I spent two hours waiting in his office only to be told, “He won’t be in today.”
There’s the young part. Thinking that Allan Rock, the master of the controlled message, would want to be within 10 feet of a Gee-Gees hockey player right now, let alone speak to one.
And so he missed his graduation reception. A memory he was hoping to carry with him through life.
He is about to lose another memory this Friday. Burns has been told he is “un-invited” to the University of Ottawa annual athletic banquet.
He has also been told he will not be given his jersey, a keepsake normally given to graduating players.
“Unfortunately, my years of dedication and my good name have been smeared by the very university I spent so much time working to promote,” writes Burns. “I leave the university not having been recognized for my accomplishments, but having had the door slammed behind me.”