It's a term that gets thrown around a lot in a negative connotation. "Hockey culture breeds XYZ". Whenever something negative happens in the game, the first thing people echo is the sentiment that the game teaches nothing positive. "It promotes racism/sexism/homophobia".
I played hockey for 23 years. For 23 years, I played with boys, girls, white players, East Indian players, and Asian players. One year I had a Japanese coach. Another year I had former NHL player John Craighead, a guest on this podcast, as our bench boss. I can tell you that I never once had a coach or a teammate encourage any negative behaviour. Not once was I told to verbally target a minority. Not once did I hear a coach use sexist or homophobic language towards a player. In my teenage years and beyond, there was locker room talk, but nothing different than what a group of girls might talk about at brunch after going out on a Saturday night.
I used to work in finance. There were men and women cheating on their spouses in the open. Twice, I was touched inappropriately by female colleagues. Should there be a conversation about "Finance Culture"? There were also fantastic people worked there, respectful people with great values. Issues in any profession are a person-to-person character problem, not a culture problem.
What doesn't get talked about regarding hockey culture is how it brings out some incredible people. Connor McDavid, Sidney Crosby, Alex Ovechkin, Steven Stamkos, Max Domi, Bo Horvat, Robin Lehner and many other NHL players have demonstrated how much of a stand-up guy they are through their actions in the community, bringing awareness to issues like mental health.
Through the game, I was taught about teamwork, taking care of my health, discipline, and pushing forward when there was a struggle. I look back on my time in hockey with pride at how it impacted my life. Hockey culture isn't toxic. It's an avenue for people to come together and enjoy a common interest.