Jeremy Roenick has been retired from the NHL for more than a decade but still isn’t in the Hockey Hall of Fame. If Roenick wins the lawsuit filed just field against NBC Sports, his lawyer will be a sure bet for first-ballot election into the Trial Lawyer Hall of Fame.
However, the argument that Roenick will attempt to make in court has the potential to stir up so much additional controversy that he could conceivably not live to see the day he is chosen to be honored alongside other hockey greats.
Jeremy Roenick’s on-ice credentials are solid
Defensemen Doug Wilson and Kevin Lowe, who had been eligible since 1999 and 2001, respectively, were two of the six selections last month for enshrinement into the Hockey Hall of Fame. The fact that they waited so long to receive the sport’s top honor has to lend encouragement to Jeremy Roenick that he will eventually be given his due.
Neither Wilson nor Lowe had outlandish scoring numbers or accumulated a lot of honors, which is one more reason for optimism for Roenick, who became eligible for consideration in 2012. Roenick’s career statistics of 513 goals and 703 in 1,363 games compare favorably to many forwards, including Marian Hossa, another player who was elected last month.
Where Roenick falls, short, however, is in the area of honors. Hossa won three Stanley Cups with the Chicago Blackhawks; Roenick doesn’t have his name on a Stanley Cup and didn’t win an Olympic gold medal. Roenick missed out on the huge 1996 World Cup win over Canada because of a contract dispute with the Blackhawks.
Suspension at NBC ends in a firing
Jeremy Roenick could be combative on the ice and outspoken off it, which helped launch him into a broadcasting career after he retired. Not surprisingly, that proved to be his downfall as NBC Sports.
Roenick, 50, made the quick transition to TV after retiring as a player in 2009, handling NHL and Olympic assignments for NBC, where he enjoyed a reputation for being colorful at times.
His career was derailed in December 2019 when the network suspended him without pay following an appearance on a Barstool Sports podcast during which he commented on the physical appearance of colleagues Kathryn Tappen, Anson Carter, and Patrick Sharp. He also strayed into dangerous territory by joking about the possibility of a menage a trois with his wife and Tappen.
Roenick never returned to the air before being fired by NBC in February.
Jeremy Roenick takes an unconventional approach with his lawsuit
Retired NHL star Jeremy Roenick sued NBC Sports for wrongful termination on July 17, claiming the network discriminated against him as a straight man for remarks made on a Barstool Sports podcast. The lawsuit filed in New York State Supreme Court in Manhattan also alleges retaliation based upon Roenick speaking out in support of Donald Trump during the 2016 presidential campaign.
The first part of the two-pronged attack stems from Roenick alleging that the network held him to a different standard than figure skating commentators Johnny Weir and Tara Lipinski.
The papers filed by Roenick allege that Lipinski and Weir, both former Olympians, went unpunished despite comments they made about female anatomy in a spoof video of 1998 Olympic gold medalist Bradie Tennell but Roenick was punished for what he said about hockey commentator Kathryn Tappen.
The suit also claims that after hearing questionable on-air commentary regarding skaters’ bodies from Johnny Weir during the 2018 Olympics, Roenick was told Weir “is gay and can say whatever.”
Roenick contends that Tappen was not offended by his own remarks and that a short suspension and a requirement to seek counseling would have been sufficient punishment.
Roenick’s lawsuit also asserts that he asked for permission to speak at the Republican National Convention in 2016 but was told, “You know who you work for. You work for NBC. That would not look good on your NBC record.”
The papers allege Roenick was subsequently subjected to derogatory remarks about Trump, who defeated Hilary Clinton in the 2016 election.