Coach who protested slur is out for season
A minor hockey coach from Peterborough, Ont., who pulled his team from the ice after one of his players had a racial slur directed at him has been suspended for the rest of the season.
The Ontario Minor Hockey Association on Thursday decided to suspend coach Greg Walsh from the Peterborough Minor Hockey Association Midget House League until April 10.
The ruling comes after a Dec. 11 hearing into the incident.
"The four months does not really dictate what it is," Walsh told CBC News.
"Our season basically ends after the March break, so really it's going to be our complete season that's gone … so really to us it's a year."
On Nov. 15, one of Walsh's players on the NAPA Auto Parts team, 16-year-old Andrew McCullum, was sent to the penalty box along with a rival from the Austin Trophies.
While they were in the Kinsmen Arena penalty box, the boys heckled one another. McCullum told his coach that the opposing player directed the N-word at him.
The referee sat both players out for the rest of the period, but when the offending player came out to start the third period, Walsh and his team left the ice.
That move is against the rules of Hockey Canada, the sport's national governing body.
Walsh was suspended indefinitely immediately after the incident — the December hearing determined the extent of his punishment.
'In the heat of the moment'
"With regard to the game report from November 15th, the two on ice officials did not hear any racial comments, [and] therefore were not in a position to issue the appropriate penalty," the OMHA said in a Friday statement.
But the league acknowledged that the slur was made.
Richard Ropchan, the OMHA's executive director, told CBC News he does think the punishment was too tough in this case because Hockey Canada's rule had to be followed.
"They really do everything to deter coaches from pulling their teams for whatever reason," Ropchan said.
"It is a very severe penalty."
After an appeal Ropchan's organization reduced the suspension so it will end on April 10, 2011.
"I think he did a noble thing … we don't question that," Ropchan said.
"There were other avenues to deal with it."
The offending player was suspended for three games after an internal PMHA investigation, while two officials from his team were also suspended.
The PMHA also filed a hate complaint with the Peterborough and Lakefield Community police and requested an investigation.
- The name of the Ontario minor hockey league coach who was suspended is Greg Walsh, not Gary Walsh, as originally reported.Dec 17, 2010 7:15 PM ET