Hockey team banned for being too good, players claim

- Members of the Minnesota Blackjacks, an adult hockey team, are crying foul after they were banned from the Minnesota Wild Adult Hockey League in March without rhyme or reason, they say.

“I think a lot of teams are envious of us because we’re a good hockey team,” Al Johnson, a Blackjacks defensive player, gently insisted.

“It’s like a conspiracy against us for being successful,” Johnson said of the sudden boot.

The Blackjacks had an impressive 80-2 record over the past five years. Not bad for team consisting of male players in their 40s through late 50s.

Johnson himself hasn’t played over the past year due to a concussion he endured in 2015 at the hands of a league opponent,

“We took a lot of abuse,” nodded Johnson, “sticks, checking, mostly verbal though calling us old men and all that stuff, [ageism], a lot of swearing.” Johnson recalls of his opponents behavior.

The Minnesota Blackjacks’ record is why Johnson believes the team received a letter from the league manager, skipping the penalty box completely, ejecting the Blackjacks from the league.

“Everybody’s bummed out, everybody’s lost. We want to play.”

Reps at the National Sports Center in Blaine, however, detail a much different story.

“The team was removed from the league due to repeated violations of the USA hockey standards,” Barclay Kruse, Chief Communications Officer of the National Sports Center.

“Some fighting, some intent to injure, some racial slurs,” detailed Kruse of the violations.

According to a document the league issued to FOX 9, a Blackjack’s player is accused of hurling an expletive and racial slur at his Asian opponent.

“It’s a part of hockey culture,” said Blackjacks forward John Gorowsky.

Gorowsky says he, too, has been the victim of similar language but never heard said slur for himself.

“I think we’re sorry as a team that something like that got said and associated with us,” Gorowsky interjected.

Meanwhile, Johnson says the team didn’t so much as  get a meeting over the matter or the ban,

“They just said we’re done.”

The team now seeks real closure and a chance to play in an organized league for their age group.

“That’s all we want to do is have fun and play hockey,” Johnson smiled.

Minnesota Wild Adult Hockey League Reps tell FOX 9 the MN Blackjacks are welcome to form teams of two in the league or join other league teams. The Minnesota Blackjacks are also welcome to rent out the ice for themselves. Neither of those options, however, interest Blackjacks members.

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