Local Winnipeg woman and various NHL players’ wives and girlfriends targeted by misogynistic and vulgar messages by former Washington Capitals forward Brendan Leipsic’s exposed private group chat are fighting back. In this piece, we’ll recognize these women who were on the receiving end of the men’s comments that surfaced Wednesday evening.
Nicole Zajac spoke to Global News recently about the degrading comments towards her and other women. The 22-year-old Winnipeg native grew up with some of those players and was “shocked” after learning about the leaked private messages.
Her Instagram account is devoted to body-positivity and encouraging women to love themselves. “There is so much more to you than your looks,” she said. “You are worth so much more than the number on the scale.”
Nicole continued, “I’ve worked really hard to get to where I am… to accept my own body. I’ve been sent multiple hateful messages in my lifetime, but for each hateful message, I probably get 1,000 positives.”
On Thursday, Nicole posted photos of herself on Instagram. The first picture included some of the hurtful comments made by Leipsic, who is from Winnipeg, and the others. The second one showed Nicole with a big smile and positive comments replacing the fat-shaming.
No point focusing on the terrible things people say about you when there are way more positive things that you can be celebrating ✨
“Instead of not celebrating them and hearing hateful messages about yourself… we can take away from this and take a step towards all of us loving our bodies,” Nicole said. Two of the men involved in the chat did apologize, according to Nicole. She hopes this experience can be a lesson and gives a message to the women who were targeted:
“I hope this progresses us in a way to celebrate our bodies and our diversity with the world because if it doesn’t we are just getting upset for no reason.”
But Nicole wasn’t the only one comments were aimed at. More local women in Winnipeg discovered they were being talked out too. Here are some of the responses:
Chloe Giesbrecht didn’t even know the men. She spoke to the Winnipeg Sun about her experience. “Imagine this being ur wife,” Leipsic wrote in the chat. Chloe called the incident “heartbreaking”. “They’re supposed to be role models, and this is the exact opposite…the exact opposite of what you would want your son to be like.” she continued.
At the time, current and former teammates and their wives and girlfriends were talked about in these private conversations. Calling her fat and “actually disgusting”, Leipsic insulted the appearance of Meaghan Pearson, wife of Canucks forward Tanner Pearson, who was a teammate of Leipsic’s.
Leipsic also made offensive remarks about Lauren Kyle, the girlfriend of Edmonton Oilers captain Connor McDavid. Messages in the chat included fat-shaming, sexual comments, and derogatory language towards women and NHL players made by Leipsic and others involved.
Carter Brooks, an AA hockey coach for 15-to-17-year-olds in Winnipeg and the associate editor at Game On Magazine told CBC Sports, “This will be something that follows along with them for careers, for sports, for job opportunities that might not happen because of the way they behaved as 22-, 24-, 25-, 26-year-olds in a private conversation.”
On Friday, the Capitals placed Leipsic on unconditional waivers for the purpose of contract termination.
By Della Young