Hockey culture: it’s a commonly used phrase inside the game, glorifying sacrifice, toughness, loyalty, and a sense of identity. Justin Davis viewed this culture as something he was lucky enough to experience. After all, he’d won a Memorial Cup after leading the tournament in scoring, and he’d been drafted by the Washington Capitals. “In my mind,” he says, “I was the normal one.” Unfortunately, after stepping outside the game, he began to recognize the racism, sexual abuse and bullying that was so deeply ingrained in the sport. And then, as his own children grew into teenagers, the curtain was pulled back, the memories came rushing forward, and he was horrified: “Why was I naked in a bus bathroom for four hours with seven teammates? What happened to my brain, and why can’t I remember the simplest things? How did I end up living in a basement where the strangers upstairs were clearly engaged in domestic abuse?”
As it navigates the sport’s darkest corridors, Conflicted Scars shares the story of the common Canadian player and offers a guide for parents who need to know how and why a typical teenager with NHL dreams, from a small town, now lives anxiously, introvertedly, and battling emotional detachment.