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Broadcaster apologizes for comments about mistreating player

A Canadian hockey analyst has apologized for comments he made on a Winnipeg Jets broadcast earlier this month about using plastic wrap to tie a teenage player to a pillar.

Kevin Sawyer said before Tuesday’s Jets game at Carolina that he regretted his comments about the alleged incident involving the Minnesota Wild’s Jared Spurgeon — a former Spokane Chiefs defenseman when the broadcaster was an assistant coach with the Western Hockey League team.

“My comments were unprofessional, insensitive and may have sent the wrong message and for that, I want to sincerely apologize to you our viewers. I am truly sorry,” Sawyer said.

It was the first time Sawyer had addressed his comments since the Jan. 4 broadcast on TSN.

That day, Sawyer said, “Favorite story of Jared Spurgeon. He was a 15-year-old. Two months into the season we Saran-wrapped him to a pillar in the arena, about six feet up in the air … He was tiny. He looked like he was 12.”

Sawyer said Tuesday his comments about the alleged incident were inaccurate. He said the team had gathered to celebrate Spurgeon’s 16th birthday.

“I was in fact unaware and had nothing to do with the 16th birthday recognition until we sang ‘Happy Birthday’ to Jared, who appeared happy in that moment,” Sawyer said.

He said nothing “harmful or demeaning” was done to Spurgeon.

Sawyer said much has changed since 2005, both in hockey and in society.

“I understand times have changed a lot over the past 15 years and for the better,” Sawyer said. “This is certainly something I would never allow if I was coaching in the game today. I myself am a father of two teenage children and understand how important it is for our kids to feel safe when they are in the care of others.”

The Seattle Times does not append comment threads to stories from wire services such as the Associated Press, The New York Times, The Washington Post or Bloomberg News. Rather, we focus on discussions related to local stories by our own staff. You can read more about our community policies here.

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