WINNIPEG - Two coaches remain suspended over hazings on a Manitoba Junior Hockey League team and the league is looking at ways to better educate players and coaches.
"The MJHL finds hazing totally unacceptable and it is clear that the suspensions are an indication of the strong view the league has on this type of behaviour," MJHL commissioner Kim Davis said Wednesday as he announced the conclusion of a second review into what happened.
A report by retired Winnipeg police detective Ron Bell concluded that veteran members of the Neepawa Natives picked on rookies in at least four separate hazings.
Head coach Bryant Perrier resigned from the team last year and remains suspended from coaching until April 1. The suspension of former assistant coach Brad Biggers has been extended to July 1.
The suspensions mean the men cannot work for any team anywhere in the country that is part of Hockey Canada.
"Team leaders are responsible for their players and have an obligation to provide a safe environment at all times," Davis said.
"As the head coach and leader of the club’s hockey operations, (Perrier) should have known that hazing activity was being undertaken by members of the team," the commissioner said on the league website.
"As someone in a position of authority and leadership, he was responsible to know what was going on in the dressing room. He failed to do that, and is therefore accountable."
After the first league investigation, which was conducted by Davis, the team was fined $5,000 and the coaches and players involved received temporary suspensions.
More information surfaced and public pressure mounted, so the second investigation was ordered. That's when Perrier stepped down and Biggers was suspended indefinitely
The MJHL board will consider new ways to better educate players and coaches about hazing, including permanent signs in dressing rooms.
The matter was forwarded to police Oct. 6, about three weeks before it was first made public by the league. RCMP reviewed the case with a Crown attorney and it was decided no charges would be laid against players or staff.
Many players have left the team since the hazings first surfaced, including the player whose complaint brought it to light.
The Natives are last in the 11-team league at 10-34-2 and with 22 points.