Coach resigns amidst hockey hazing scandal

KIRK PENTON, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 8:51 PM ET

WINNIPEG - The Neepawa Natives did some damage control Thursday, and the Manitoba Junior Hockey League commissioner hopes it's the start of a new hockey beginning in the western Manitoba town.

The Natives announced head coach and GM Bryant Perrier tendered his resignation Sunday in the wake of a hazing scandal, and the organization offered two written apologies Thursday: One from the board of directors and the other from the players.

The Natives roster has been depleted lately through trades, suspensions and players quitting as a result of the alleged hazing, but MJHL commish Kim Davis believes a new GM and coach will replenish it. He also said he hopes players who left the team, which has only one win this season, will return.

"I don't know why they wouldn't," Davis said. "They have nowhere else to play at this point. It's in their best interest to return."

Neepawa's board of directors asked for everyone's forgiveness and support as the team tries to rebound from the scandal. Five rookies were victimized, including a 15-year-old who allegedly had to drag around water bottles tied to his genitals while an assistant coach watched. The player has since left the team.

"The Neepawa Natives organization understands that our players' actions have reflected poorly on our organization, our community, our league and hockey in general," the statement read. "For this we join the players in offering our sincerest apologies to the victims, our sponsors, our player's parents, our fans and our community.

"This issue has rocked us hard and we had to consider every option. After a great deal of discussion we are here today to reconfirm and renew our commitment to junior hockey in Neepawa. We humbly ask that our players, fans, sponsors and the community renew their commitment to the Neepawa Natives."

The players also released an apology, saying they thought the hazing was harmless fun when it happened at the time.

"We would like to make it clear that the events that had taken place had no malicious intent and in no way were aimed to harm or ridicule any player on our team," the statement read.

It also said "no player was forced or threatened to take part in anything they were not comfortable doing."

However, after "a great amount of thought" the players realized their actions "were extremely inappropriate and unnecessary."


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