2 suspensions issued under Hockey P.E.I.'s new verbal-abuse policy

Hockey P.E.I. says since introducing its zero-tolerance policy on verbal abuse and bullying there have been two five-game suspensions issued.

The new rules came into effect a few weeks ago.

Any players or officials identified and reported by game referees as uttering verbal taunts or slurs, racial or homophobic in nature, get an automatic five-game suspension.

A second offence will lead to suspension for the remainder of the season.

"There were two incidents where players were given a five-game suspension based on things that happened around that policy. So it is working," said Mike Hammill president of Hockey P.E.I.

It's not only a hockey issue, it's in schools, it is a societal issue. — Mike Hammill, Hockey P.E.I. president

Hammill said other hockey associations on P.E.I. are helping to enforce the new rules and he notes incidents will be kept on file.

"We were notified and we kind of rubber-stamped what they were doing. And we would have the file … we would have the record in case it happens again," he said.

One of the comments was racial and the other was homophobic, Hammill said.

There was an initial memo put out in December by Hockey P.E.I. that acknowledged the behaviour was happening and asking players to curb it.

Matt Rainnie/CBC

Hammill said after that memo went out, more reports of verbal taunts and slurs were reported so the new rules were adopted in January.

"The policy is about more than the penalties," Hammill said, adding it has sparked a lot of conversation about respectful behaviour, which he believes will make a difference.

"We are planning a social media campaign about this and we will have that ready to roll out in the fall."

Hammill said he wants people playing hockey — he just wants to make sure their behaviour is appropriate.

"It's not only a hockey issue, it's in schools, it is a societal issue," he said. "We think it will make a difference in the long-term."

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