Overcoming the Neutral Zone Trap

Hockey’s Agents of Change

Table of contents

Cheryl A. MacDonald and Jonathon R.J. Edwards


I Challenging Hockey’s Norms
1 The Forgotten Canadian League: The Voices of U SPORTS Men’s Hockey Players and the Legitimacy of University Hockey in Canada
Cameron Braes and Jonathon R.J. Edwards

2 Karl Subban & Me: The Parents Take on Hockey Culture
Angie Abdou

3 “I want justice and more”: Loreto, Carcillo, and Dominant Narratives of Hockey Culture on Twitter
Catherine Houston, Kyle Rich, Tavis Smith, and Ann Pegoraro

4 Hockey Talks: Mental Health Faces off against the “Green Lantern” Mentality
Brett Pardy

II Access and Support
5 “We have to work for it. For everything. Absolutely everything.”: An Examination of the Gendered Structure of Ice Hockey in U SPORTS
Chelsey Leahy

6 #BeBoldForChange: The 2017 US Women’s National Hockey Team Player Boycott, Twitter, and (Neo)Liberal Feminism
Noah Underwood and Judy Davidson

7 Desirable Disability: My Journey from Upright Hockey to Sledge Hockey, and Back Again
Kieran Block with Cheryl A. MacDonald

8 Skating toward Reconciliation: A “Survivance” History of Indigenous Peoples in Hockey in Canada
Vicky Paraschak

III Masculinity and Sexuality
9 Uncovering the Conspiracy of Silence of Gay Hockey Players in the NHL
Roger G. LeBlanc

10 “I never thought I’d get here, I thought I’d be dead.”: An In-depth Interview with an Openly Gay Former Professional Ice Hockey Player
Cheryl A. MacDonald and Brock McGillis

11 “What do you mean you don’t play hockey…you a queer or somethin’?”: Reflections on Life as a Non-Hockey Playing Canadian Boy
William Bridel

12 The Tragedy of the Enforcer in Lynn Coady’s The Antagonist and Jeff Lemire’s Roughneck
Fred Mason

Colin D. Howell



Overcoming the Neutral Zone Trap challenges hockey’s norms, pushes its boundaries, and provides new ways of conceptualizing its role in North American culture. The editors of this engaging interdisciplinary collection use the metaphor of the neutral zone trap to explore the ways that hockey’s culture and structures work to exclude marginalized people. The book features both personal and scholarly accounts of agents of change—people, ideas, and events—that confront the challenges associated with making hockey a more inclusive space. By exposing assumptions about hockey culture, Overcoming the Neutral Zone Trap opens up critical discussions of previously underexplored topics as they relate to the women’s game, Indigenous participation, viable career pathways, masculine identities, hockey parents, mental health, and social media. This is a book for fans, players, organizers, and researchers alike.

Contributors: Angie Abdou, Kieran Block, Cam Braes, William Bridel, Judy Davidson, Jonathon R.J. Edwards, Catherine Houston, Colin D. Howell, Chelsey H. Leahy, Roger G. LeBlanc, Cheryl A. MacDonald, Fred Mason, Brock McGillis, Vicky Paraschak, Brett Pardy, Ann Pegoraro, Kyle A. Rich, Tavis Smith, Noah Underwood


Cheryl A. MacDonald: "I hope readers take away an understanding that a lot of people experience hockey differently than we might often think. I think that sometimes folks take for granted that hockey brings Canadians together and that Canadians all have the same experience through their participation in hockey..." Sean Hatchard, Times & Transcript, January 11, 2022

"While the collection skews academic, personal stories and interviews make the book appealing and accessible for casual readers, showcasing the inclusivity the book is championing..... Though it offers no easy answers, the book gives its agents of change a rare chance to break through the defence to their goal."

- Bruce Cinnamon