Conception Bay Junior Renegades forfeit semifinals over abusive fan
A team in the St. John's Junior Hockey League refused to play a pivotal tournament game because of an abusive fan, and now that team wants Hockey NL to step in and take action.
The executive for the Conception Bay Junior Renegades forfeited the team's semi-final game against the St. John's Caps last weekend.
Kevin Tobin, who's on the team's executive, said the fan has already been banned from several arenas on the Avalon.
According to Tobin, the man is known to the league and his conduct has been a concern for years.
If three or four rinks ban him, there's a sense that this is escalating.- Kevin Tobin, Conception Bay Renegades
While the man isn't profane, Tobin said he's extremely aggressive.
"He's screaming and yelling at the players, he's yelling at the parents," said Tobin.
"There was a player injured and was taken off the ice and he was standing near the boards, blocking the path of taking the player to the dressing room."
Tobin said it's taking a toll on some of the young people at the games. He recalled seeing one child, aged seven or eight, with tears in his eyes.
"It's different than heckling like, 'Come on, come on, you can do better than that,' or trying to poke fun at certain players," said Tobin.
"It's, in my opinion, crossing the line."
Tobin said the fan in question is an adult.
"He is a die-hard Caps fan," said Tobin.
"We've been in the league five years, and we've seen him and heard him for the last five years — maybe, in particular, the last three or four."
Tobin said, at first, the team thought the man was joking around.
"Then it's just constant, constant, constant. If three or four rinks ban him, there's a sense that this is escalating," said Tobin.
"There were people with him the other night ... It's just escalating."
The Renegades' refusal to play resulted in the Caps being awarded the semifinals.
The Renegades appealed that decision, but Tobin said the league dismissed the appeal because the team didn't give the required 72 hours notice.
Missing the point
Tobin said he's frustrated by this because on March 11, the league sent a letter to the man banning him from all junior hockey league games and practices.
The letter referenced the man's consistent run-ins with players, officials and fans.
"We sincerely hope that you abide by our request and please stay away," the letter reads.
According to Tobin, the league doesn't appear to be enforcing its own rule.
"Then it's left to us to make a decision," said Tobin.
"Do we go ahead and play the game and see if anything is going to happen in game four?"
Tobin said his players were disappointed by the decision to forfeit, but the executive believed it was in the best interest of everyone involved.
"This is junior B hockey. We're responsible for the players," he said.
"I look at all these players, and my son was a player for three years, so this is like an extension of our family."
Tobin said the next step is to take these concerns to Hockey NL.
St. John's Junior Hockey League asks fan to stay away (PDF KB)
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