By Ryan Laverty
Three Mount Royal College hockey players and their coach have been suspended following a Thanksgiving team trip to Vancouver.
The true events subsequent to the team’s Saturday night victory are uncertain to all except those who were there. However, MRC Athletic Director Mark Kosak is quite certain the suspended players were the instigators of the disturbance, and that their sentences suit the crime. Three players were each strapped with suspensions, one for four-games, one half-season, and one a full-season, while Head Coach Wayne Andrews was given seven games.
"The suspensions were quite severe, yes," said Kosak. "And it’s because we don’t tolerate that kind of conduct from our teams."
According to Kosak the team went back to their accommodations for a post-game dinner in the hotel restaurant. Following dinner the majority of the team went out to a local bar and upon returning to their rooms at the end of the night, some players caused a disturbance.
"There was some abusive conduct and language toward the staff and other guests," explained Kosak. "And basically it carried on most of the night, it ended sometime early in the morning."
To hear the Athletic Director speak of the incident, it was as if he were himself there. Yet, outside of the three reprimanded players, he cannot be certain of which athletes were in fact involved and what role Andrews played in the occurrence.
"Wayne Andrews was with the team most of the night but left early and went to sleep," explained Kosak. "He was with them at dinner and it looks like he went to the bar with them."
According to Andrews he and a few of the players retired to their rooms shortly after dinner ended and were asleep when all the disruptions began.
"The hotel has a restaurant and bar and yes I went with the team for a meal," explained Andrews. "But, after dinner I went back to my room and some of the players went out from there."
Kosak admitted Andrews made a mistake but justified the to the first-year coach’s suspension because of his lack of enforcement of a college rule specifying no alcohol on college-sponsored trips.
"It was a tough one to determine because he wasn’t directly involved with the disturbance at the hotel, he was asleep, but he didn’t enforce the rules," said Kosak. "The head coach is ultimately responsible for the way the team behaves and we felt a quarter of the season was adequate punishment."
Responsibility is not something easily pinned on any one party in a situation like this. While Andrews does claim partial blame and the players have accepted responsibility for their actions, Dinos Athletics Director Don Wilson, has a different view.
"The coaches are responsible for enforcing a code of conduct and it is my job to make sure the coaches know what that code of conduct is," explained Wilson. "I read in the paper that the coach said he was ultimately responsible but actually it is the Athletic Director who is ultimately responsible."
Passing the buck would be an ideal strategy in situation made so public so quickly but Andrews stands by his team and will not look for reprieve from his suspension.
"I think the suspensions were very severe and right now I’m in a tough position here," he explained. "But, I’m hoping they’ll get reduced. I’m certainly going to bat for them and hopefully things will work out."
Former MRC Head Coach and current Dinos bench boss Scott Atkinson alludes to the ludicrousness of the accusations directed at Andrews.
"I view Wayne Andrews as someone on a higher moral plane, he’s an exemplary guy," said Atkinson, who worked with Andrews for seven years during his tenure with the Cougars.
"Some guys misbehaved and I don’t know why he or the team is being punished so harshly for the actions of a few guys.
"Quite frankly, I’m disappointed. There is no doubt Wayne is responsible for the group. But my understanding is that when he found out what was going on, he tried to stop it. I’m disappointed that people don’t have more trust in him."
Only time will tell how the suspensions play out, but Andrews is confident the team will carry on.
"It speaks to the old cliché–what ever doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger," he said.