It has been a lousy month for hockey coaches in Manitoba.
— Two Westwood Collegiate coaches were suspended indefinitely for throwing a high school hockey playoff game in order to prevent a rival team from advancing.
— Two more coaches (from the Portage Terriers and Swan Valley Stampeders) were suspended for a total of 44 games for fighting on the bench at the conclusion of a nasty Manitoba Junior Hockey League playoff series.
— Hockey Manitoba reported there had been 16 incidents of physical referee abuse in a two month period, some involving coaches in minor hockey, and Hockey Winnipeg described verbal and physical attacks on officials to be “epidemic.”
It’s a disturbing trend that has cast coaches in a bad light and has made many observers question what kind of athletes and citizens these “role models” are shaping.
It has also cast an unfair black cloud over the hundreds of Manitoba hockey coaches who sacrifice time, effort and money to make sure young players get a chance to enjoy the game and grow up with an equal sense of competitiveness and fair play.
Volunteer coaches do what they do because they love the game and they want to help develop talent, skills and team building, while spending quality time with their own children.
They deserve to be commended for this sacrifice and yet in the public consciousness their collective image is being damaged by a few loose cannons.
The Winnipeg High School Hockey League and the MJHL were quick to take action and suspend coaches who showed players exactly how not to behave in a hockey game.
Parents of aspiring hockey players in this province can only hope people are getting the message.
GOLDWATER GAFFE: This is one move the Goldwater Institute may come to regret.
A report in the Arizona Republic says Goldwater’s litigation director Clint Bolick and his wife Shawnna Bolick, have joined a Facebook group called “Support the Goldwater Institute, bring back the Jets.”
Glendale spokeswoman Julie Frisoni told the paper the Bolicks’ participation shows the Goldwater Institute wants the Coyotes to leave Arizona and return to Canada.
“For members of the institute to be a part of a group that supports the Coyotes’ move to Canada is completely inappropriate,” Frisoni said. “(It) removes any guise of impartiality the institute may have in evaluating this agreement.”
Bolick, who wears a Coyotes jersey in his Facebook profile picture, said he joined the group to because it supports Goldwater and provides news on the potential deal.
“All of this is of course irrelevant to the constitutionality and merits of the (Coyotes’) deal,” Bolick said.
Goldwater Institute has promised to file a lawsuit if the City of Glendale provides a $100 million subsidy to Matthew Hulsizer to assist with his purchase of the Coyotes from the NHL.
If the Hulsizer deal fails, there’s a possibility the Coyotes could return to Winnipeg, where they played as the Jets from 1972-1996.
BLUE DEAL: So let’s get this straight, the Edmonton Eskimos released long snapper Taylor Inglis last season and then paid two draft picks to the Blue Bombers to get him back on Thursday. Since the Bombers already have Chris Cvetovic, that’s a deal that worked out pretty well for the Bombers.
KICK ’EM OUT: My take on all the discussions about fighting in hockey: It’s time to get rid of the frivolous fights by attaching a game misconduct to every fighting major.
Other major offences carry similar penalties (is there any question throwing a punch at someone is an intent to injure?) and they still occur with regularity. This would certainly eliminate the need for fourth-line goons, which would be no great loss, and would likely open up the game to some smaller skill players who would otherwise have been overlooked.
This would effectively serve as a ban of fighting, at least the frivolous variety, but if two players simply can’t resist tossing haymakers in the heat of the moment, they can still have at it and deal with the consequences.