Jeremy Allingham chronicles the struggles of Langley’s Stephen Peat and two other hockey enforcers in his book ‘Major Misconduct.” (Rebbecca Blissett photo)

VIDEO: How a B.C. kid came to chronicle the downfall of a hometown hockey hero

Growing up, journalist Jeremy Allingham used to watch Stephen Peat play at a local arena

Growing up in Langley, 13-year-old Jeremy Allingham got to watch a slightly older Stephen Peat play hockey at a local arena.

At 6’3” and 240 pounds, Peat, a then-15-year-old right winger with the BCHL Langley Thunder was impressive, scoring 20 points in 59 games.

That got Peat noticed, first by the WHL and then by NHL, where the physically imposing Peat developed a reputation as a hockey enforcer who was willing to drop his gloves and start swinging.

Many years later, Allingham has charted the downfall of Peat, a player who made millions then ended up homeless.

In his book, Major Misconduct, Allingham suggests the fighting caused brain damage, describing a 2002 fight between Peat and P.J. Stock as “one of the most violent hockey fights of all time,” where the combatants threw more than a punch a second, landing blow after blow to the face.

It was, Allingham noted, more punishment that a pro boxer absorbs.

Note: Video contents may be upsetting to some.

Now, Peat suffers from “relentless headaches, memory loss, emotional outbursts, and substance use issues,” Allingham relates in his book.

Allingham notes that the symptoms are consistent with the degenerative brain disease chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE).

Peat ended up living in his truck and couch-surfing after he was charged with arson in a fire that destroyed his Langley home in 2015, then pleaded guilty.

READ MORE: Peat pleads guilty in arson attack

READ MORE: Former NHL tough guy, Stephen Peat, ‘has a heart of gold,’ says his friend

Allingham spent more than a year working on the book about Peat and two other famous hockey fighters, James McEwan and Dale Purinton.

A lot of his time was spent in pursuit of Peat, who would respond to the occasional text message, but took a very long time before he agreed to a full interview.

Finally, out of the blue on day, Peat agreed to talk by phone.

In the hour-long conversation that ensued, Allingham said Peat described what his life was like, how he was homeless and estranged from his father and how he spent the holidays alone.

“It was the worst Christmas I’ve ever had,” Peat told Allingham.

Allingham recounts his own amazement that a man who made nearly $2 million from hockey “was now living alone, sleeping in the cab of a beat-up GMC pickup or crashing on the couches of any friend who would have him. He was spending most of his days in local parks, trying to find some relief from the relentless headaches and the fog of confusion that surrounded, then swallowed, his life.”

“I just want my health back, man,” Peat told Allingham.

In person, during a long-postponed face-to-face meeting, Peat registered as “an intelligent, charming, funny guy” Allingham told the Langley Advance Times.

Allingham has become an outspoken critic of fighting in hockey.

While the number of fights has fallen over the years, it is still too high, he argues, with “about a one in five chance that you’ll witness a fight” in the NHL.

In the 2018–19 season, that worked out 226 bare-knuckle fights, Allingham recounted, “where young men received concussive and sub-concussive trauma to their brains.”

Allingham believes there is still hope for Peat “to get the help he needs and, possibly, to become healthy again.”

Telling Peat’s story and the stories of the other firmer fighters was an intense and demanding experience for Allingham, who found working on the book left him with barely enough time and energy for his job at CBC and his new life as a parent of two.

“I’m a musician. I completely put that on the side,”

“I didn’t play with my band. My social life shot down 90 per cent.”

Now, he’s writing songs again.

“I’m coming back to it [music] with a fresh outlook.”

Major Misconduct: The Human Cost of Fighting in Hockey, by Jeremy Allingham, with a foreword by Daniel Carcillo, is published by Arsenal Pulp Press.



dan.ferguson@langleyadvancetimes.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Province, feds, Wet’suwet’en announce progress in MOU talks

Community engagement process launched to implement northern B.C. First Nation’s rights and title

COVID-19 tests come back negative in remote First Nation community

“There are no suspected cases in the community at this time.”

Wildway Farms open for business in Hagensborg

Local entrepreneurs Gwyneth Anderson and Joseph Battensby are hard at work at their new business

Young boy finds mask stolen during recent break-in

Gage Pootlass immediately took the mouse mask back to its rightful owner, Kathleen Booth

‘Don’t kill my mom’: Ryan Reynolds calls on young British Columbians to be COVID-smart

‘Deadpool’ celebrity responds to premier’s call for social influence support

Captain Horvat’s OT marker lifts Canucks to 4-3 win over Blues

Vancouver takes 2-0 lead in best-of-7 NHL playoff series with St. Louis

Widow of slain Red Deer doctor thanks community for support ahead of vigil

Fellow doctors, members of the public will gather for a physically-distanced vigil in central Alberta

Protesters showcase massive old yellow cedar as Port Renfrew area forest blockade continues

9.5-foot-wide yellow cedar measured by Ancient Forest Alliance campaigners in Fairy Creek watershed

Taking dog feces and a jackhammer to neighbourhood dispute costs B.C. man $16,000

‘Pellegrin’s actions were motivated by malice …a vindictive, pointless, dangerous and unlawful act’

Racist stickers at Keremeos pub leaves group uneasy and angry

The ‘OK’ hand gesture is a known hate-symbol

VIDEO: World responds to B.C. girl after pandemic cancels birthday party

Dozens of cards and numerous packages were delivered to six-year-old Charlie Manning

Expected fall peak of COVID-19 in Canada could overwhelm health systems: Tam

National modelling projections released Friday show an expected peak in cases this fall

Most Read