Peewee coaches dispute allegations of bribes for hits
Hockey Nova Scotia investigating after parents say foul language was common at the games
Three peewee hockey coaches accused of using foul language and offering players cash for hits say allegations made against them are not true.
Parents of some players on the Acadia Minor Hockey Association's Peewee Triple AAA team told CBC News last week that coaches taped a $5 bill to the dressing room wall as an incentive for the player who could deliver the biggest hit in the game.
Other allegations included cursing and using derogatory language towards players — even a nickname of "Stupid."
Jeff Burbidge, one of the coaches, says they're shocked to hear the allegations, which he says are either false or blown out of proportion.
"It was never about a bounty or anything like that," he said. "I was very disappointed to even hear that."
Burbidge said his idea was to offer a reward as a motivator for the players in order to bind the team together.
"We would put some kind of reward in place for the player that did everything they could to help win the hockey game," he said.
He said the incentive was not always money. Chocolate bars and mints were also used. When a parent complained, the incentive was discontinued.
Coach Jamie Henderson said allegations that the staff used coarse language are not true.
"In regards to the F-bomb, I remember one time, yes, it was said," said Jamie Henderson. "Is it said a lot? Absolutely not."
Henderson said on that occasion the coaches apologized to the team. Burbidge and Henderson added that the allegation that a player was nicknamed Stupid is false. "We wouldn't have allowed that to happen," said Burbidge.
While the association told CBC last week it ended its relationship with the coaches, Henderson said he is still coaching the Peewee AAA team. Burbidge coaches in a different association, while the third coach, Laurie Dauphinee, has stopped coaching altogether.
Parents expectations questioned
Dauphinee said they started to receive complaints early in the season from a small group of parents. He said complaints also went to the association, which he believes did not do a good job of refereeing between coaches and parents.
"The official process of Acadia Minor hockey is for the parent to email or contact the manager of the team, and the manager of the team then contacts the coaching staff," Dauphinee said. He said that process was followed, but the association never found fault with the coaching staff.
Dauphinee suggests some parents may have continued to complain because their expectations for their children were too high.
"We've had kids cry before games or after games, because they've been videotaped with the iPads and the video machines, and then going home to get video reviewed by their parents. It's just minor hockey," he said.
"There's no way to get through a hockey season without issues," said Burbidge. "We talked to them [the parents who complained], we sat down one-on-one, we set meeting times, and tried to work this out. We were never in there to ever give someone a bad experience."
Hockey Nova Scotia said it is investigating the allegations. The investigation should be complete in about three weeks.