Did I mention it was a stellar week for youth hockey? The hits just keep on coming and it’s only Friday. One more day left for these idiots…


1 Response to “Did I mention it was a stellar week for youth hockey? The hits just keep on coming and it’s only Friday. One more day left for these idiots…”

  1. December 11, 2009 at 2:21 PM

    Read ’em and weep…literally.

    Copyright 2009 Toronto Star Newspapers, Ltd.
    The Toronto Star

    December 11, 2009 Friday


    HEADLINE: Crossing THE LINE;
    GTHL’s records show that coaches behind the bench are the ones responsible for the largest number of problems reported by on-ice officials

    BYLINE: Robert Cribb, Toronto Star

    By the time Tom Maccarone’s confrontation with a referee reached a crescendo of profanity last October, the minor hockey assistant coach had earned penalties for threatening an official, making an obscene gesture and committing a “travesty of the game.” The blowup wasn’t an isolated incident.

    Since 2001, the 52-year-old father of three has amassed 19 game suspensions and seven major penalties for disputing officials’ calls – six of them including verbal abuse of the official – according to Greater Toronto Hockey League records.

    While experts call coaches the most influential leaders in minor hockey, GTHL records show a startling number of hothead outbursts against officials by adults behind the bench, from profane attacks to threats of violence.

    A study of 6,622 critical incidents in the GTHL during the 2007-08 season found coaches responsible for the largest number – 2,537 – of problems reported by referees.

    Sport consulting firm Justplay, which conducted the research on behalf of the GTHL, defines critical incidents as events demonstrating “poor” or “very poor” sportsmanship and no redeeming examples of good sportsmanship.

    “These are really what we consider, extreme circumstances,” says company president and founder Elaine Raakman. “Yet they’re happening quite often. For officials to rate an incident as critical, the behaviour has to be pretty outrageous.”

    “It seems that it’s been deemed appropriate that officials can be yelled at and screamed at. There’s nobody doing anything about that,” says Dwayne Cromwell, an official in the league for 20 years.

    “I have the distinct impression that it has been escalating. I’ve had a coach pin my car in with his car in the parking lot and threaten me there.”Such confrontations don’t just frighten officials. Parents and minor hockey officials say they set a terrible example for young players and could be at the root of growing disrespect and violence on the ice.

    While coaches are required to take certification courses approved by Hockey Canada, it offers little assurance of wise on-ice leadership, says Dr. Bill Montelpare, a sports injury researcher at Lakehead University in Thunder Bay.

    “Many coaches misunderstand their role,” he says. “The game is not about them. They are the stewards of the game and their modeling matters to children at all ages. If the coach doesn’t speak appropriately and de-emphasize those behaviours that we find offensive, then how can we expect the players to behave differently?”

    The official on the receiving end of Maccarone’s anger noted in a league report that he “felt embarrassed” for the assistant coach.

    “I cannot recall a time (on or off the ice) that I have ever seen anyone lose control of himself that way…,” reads the official’s incident report filed to the league.

    The confrontation started when Maccarone protested a late-game icing call with officials.

    “Tom Maccarone who was already very heated, became enraged” and tried to force himself through a narrow gap between the players and penalty bench to get at the referee, the report says. “After using too many expletives to count (although I do recall ‘motherf ‘ as one of the words to describe us) tried to force himself through a gap of 1.5 feet between the players and penalty bench (where we were standing – assessing the penalties by this time) to try to get at us and try to do us physical harm.”

    Maccarone was holding a puck in his hand at the time, it says.

    “I have never felt threatened physically before as a hockey official, but this time I know if he had been able to squeeze himself through the partition, he would have assaulted us based on his temperament at the time.”

    Maccarone, who was suspended for 12 games for the incident, concedes he “lost it” but he says he never threatened the official. “You always have (regrets) after the fact. In the heat of the game you can get too emotionally involved,” he said in an interview. “But sometimes, that’s your only way to let them see how you really feel about what he’s done.”

    Maccarone says he has been suspended several times in his 25-year coaching career.

    “I think out of all the times I’ve been thrown out, it was for the same thing, which is for these referees who think they’re bigger than the game. My way of getting back at them is to tell somebody where to go…

    “I’m more of a hot head and that happens. But I’ve never threatened an official and I never would.”

    Michael Maccarone, Tom’ s brother, with him behind the bench for much of the past two decades and witnessed the incident, says his brother has a short fuse.

    “He’s an idiot,” Michael says lovingly. “He gets too involved in the game. Is it something the kids should see? Definitely not. But as long as there’s hockey and there’s coaches, they’re going to see it.”

    He says that while his brother can let loose with profanity at officials, he’s never heard him make a threat.

    “I didn’t hear a threat. Could he have said something that sounded close to a threat? Sure. He was being provoked to some extent by the official. But he shouldn’t have gone as far as he did.”

    Tom Maccarone did not apply to be a coach this season but there is no restriction on his return to coaching, say league officials.

    Pat Flatley, a 14-year NHLer who now coaches the GTHL’s minor peewee AAA Toronto Young Nationals, says responsibility for player conduct on ice ultimately rests with the adults behind the bench.

    “If a team has an unusual amount of major penalties, then the coach should be held accountable. He is the teacher. Coaches have a big impact on kids.”

    Nick Mintsopoulos, a veteran GTHL official and manager of game officials for the Mississauga Hockey League, says he’s grown accustomed to abuse from coaches.

    “It’s pretty sad. It usually happens in younger age groups where kids are sitting on the bench listening to their coach verbally abuse the official. As soon as the coach goes off the handle, they start following him.”

    The Star investigation has found coaches with histories of verbally abusing officials can move easily from club to club.

    Sebastian Bianchi is among them.

    At the end of a midget AA game in February, the then assistant coach of the Etobicoke Canucks had a heated exchange with officials coming off the ice, says a league investigation report.

    “The coach …threatened me by saying ‘I’ll see you in the parking lot,’ among other comments.”

    Bianchi was watching the game from the stands because he was already under suspension at the time for an earlier incident of “gross misconduct,” says Elinor Gillespie, GM of the Etobicoke Canucks.

    Before that, Bianchi had been given a six-game suspension at the beginning of the season, she says.

    “It was all for mouthing off at officials. In one case he had a linesman pressed up against a wall sharing his feelings about the game,” she says.

    GTHL records show Bianchi has received 15 major penalties, including seven for “disputing a call with verbal abuse,” and one for “trash talking.”

    “He didn’t know how to deal with (his feelings about the officiating),” said Gillespie, who hired Bianchi because she says there aren’t enough good coaches to go around. “Most coaches say their piece and let it go. He didn’t know when to stop.”Bianchi, who has been coaching for 17 years, is an assistant coach with West Mall this season.

    “I don’t really want to discuss this,” he told the Star. “It’s part of life that happens. I’m not proud of it … I got carried away, I got slapped on the wrist, we move on.”

    In many cases, the eruptions come from coaches who have kids playing on their teams, officials say.

    Todd Hore had twins playing on the Mississauga Reps team on which he served as assistant manager last season.

    With four minutes remaining in the third period of a minor bantam AAA game in December, 2008, officials called a minor penalty on a Reps player. As the official skated by the Reps’ bench to report the penalty, Hore “verbally harassed” the official with a string of profanities, says a league report.

    “My linesman informed me that as I skated away from the Reps bench, Hore had called me a ‘motherf – faggot.'”

    The official assessed Hore a “discriminatory slur” penalty. The league later suspended Hore for five games for the act.

    Ryan Bradshaw, the referee who assessed the penalty, said the fireworks started when he assessed a minor penalty to Hore’s son that left the team two players down.

    “In my experience, you’ll get coaches using profane language and swearing at you maybe once a month,” he said. “But I’d never heard something quite like that before.”

    Hore conceded to swearing at the official, saying he is regretful.

    “You regret it 15 or 20 minutes after you do it. You remember it’s kids’ hockey. I regret it and I’m sure other coaches regret it.”

    He says he is not involved with managing the team this year after the head coach decided to remove members of the coaching staff who had a child on the team. “We agreed it was likely best if I stop.”

    Copyright 2009 Toronto Star Newspapers, Ltd.
    The Toronto Star

    December 9, 2009 Wednesday


    HEADLINE: Cobourg coaches, parent to appear in Buffalo court;
    Pair resign following late-night bar skirmish

    BYLINE: Morgan Campbell, Toronto Star

    Two Cobourg minor hockey coaches and a hockey dad charged in connection with a weekend brawl outside Buffalo will return to court in January after a hearing scheduled for Wednesday was cancelled.

    It’s the latest twist in a bizarre story that has captivated Cobourg, been picked up by news outlets across the country and prompted the two coaches, Jay Stevenson and Dennis Heinz, to resign from Cobourg’s minor hockey league Tuesday afternoon.

    “They didn’t want to become a distraction,” said James Auricchio, the Buffalo-based lawyer representing all three men. “I think it was a mutual action between them and the club.”

    Cobourg minor hockey officials didn’t return phone calls Tuesday and had earlier issued a statement saying they wouldn’t comment on the case while it was still in court.

    It’s not known if the men will face further bans from coaching youth teams, and their lawyer said they don’t plan to speak with the media.

    The drama started in the early hours of last Saturday. Stevenson, and Heinz, coaches with a Cobourg minor bantam team playing in a tournament near Buffalo, headed to the bar in the Holiday Inn Hotel on Grand Island, along with Rico Razaiy, a parent of a player.

    Some time after they arrived a brawl erupted, and Erie County police arrived at the bar to find what they later described in a press release as “a bar full of belligerent, obnoxious, intoxicated Ontario men.”

    The three Canadians were eventually arrested and face a variety of misdemeanours, including resisting arrest and disorderly conduct. Stevenson, however, was also charged with assaulting a police officer, and faces a 15-year sentence if convicted.

    Auricchio doesn’t think it will come to that. He believes the severity of Stevenson’s charge was an administrative error based on the mistaken belief that the officer Stevenson allegedly assaulted was seriously injured. The officer was unhurt and finished his shift after the arrest, Auricchio said.

    After spending the night in jail, Stevenson was released on $10,000 (U.S.) bail, while Heinz and Razaiy both paid $2,500 bail.

    Auricchio, a former federal prosecutor, said the judge at last Saturday’s hearing feared the three Canadians would skip subsequent hearings if bail were set too low, so he imposed stiffer bail conditions.

    He said in most misdemeanour cases like the ones involving Razaiy and Heinz, defendants can go free with a simple promise to return to court. And for a felony charge like Stevenson’s, judges usually set bail at about $2,500.

    All three men are scheduled to return Grand Island court on Jan. 13, though Auricchio said he’ll meet with the prosecutor several times before then to try to reach a deal.

    “(The defendants) just want to see what happens in the long term here,” he said. “These are just allegations. They’re innocent until proven guilty. Let’s move on with it.”

    mcampbell @ thestar.ca

    Copyright 2009 Sun Media Corporation
    All Rights Reserved
    Calgary Sun (Alberta)

    December 10, 2009 Thursday

    SECTION: NEWS; Pg. 3

    HEADLINE: Player sex abuse claimed;
    Coach charged with assault on teenage girl


    Allegations a hockey coach sexually abused a 15-year-old female player over three days has the city’s minor hockey leaders considering mandatory background checks.

    But for now, such scrutiny remains voluntary among the city’s hockey associations and Hockey Calgary’s president voiced doubts about enforcing such measures.

    The city’s amateur hockey community was reeling from news a coach who’d left the game after a few years of coaching, only to return this fall, had been charged with sexually abusing a player.

    Michael Shawn Bourgeois, 35, is charged with five offences, including sexual assault, inciting sexual contact with a youth by a person of authority and invitation to sexual touching with a child under 16.

    He stepped down voluntarily once the three-week investigation began into the incidents that allegedly occurred Nov. 9-11 away from the arena, said Det. Jeff Klinger.

    “When the person is under 16 years of age, it is not consensual,” said Klinger, adding the parents went to police with a complaint.

    “It’s up to the adults to remove themselves from that situation.”

    He said the victim has “been great and co-operative throughout the investigation.”

    He wouldn’t say where the incidents occurred.

    Hockey Calgary president Perry Cavanagh said families shouldn’t be worried for the welfare of their children in the city’s minor hockey system, particularly with the advent of the program Respect in Sport which promotes abuse awareness for parents.

    “There’s always room for improvement in the protocols, but it does present an environment that is safe for players to play in,” he said, adding the experience of ex-NHLer Sheldon Kennedy, who was sexually abused by his junior hockey coach, has contributed to Respect in Sport.

    “It’s a new program that deserves an opportunity to move forward,” said Cavanagh.

    He said the organization recommends member teams examine the backgrounds of their coaches but “the associations have the prerogative … The threat of a background check is often enough to keep predators away.”

    But he said Hockey Calgary’s board would examine making such scrutiny mandatory, beginning next year.

    It’s unclear if Bourgeois’ background had been checked, said Cavanagh, but police say he’s not known to them.

    Police say they don’t believe there are any other victims, though they’re asking the public to come forward if they have any additional information.

    A Hockey Canada spokesman said the organization is reviewing its coach screening procedures, mainly in the event they face civil litigation, which hasn’t been launched.


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