The St. Vital Minor Hockey Association is disputing an accusation that one of its coaches was instructing players how to hurt opponents in fights.
The story was first reported by a local television station on Wednesday, citing what SVMHA officials say was an anonymous email making allegations against the coach of the Norberry-Glenlee Knights, a midget-level team with 16- and 17-year-old players.
"Initial reports from both the parents and players in attendance of the practice in question have the story line differing greatly from the allegations brought forth in CTV news story," the SVMHA said in a statement released Thursday afternoon.
"It would appear that CTV based their news story on allegations raised in an anonymous email sent to CTV that to date no parent or player from the team in question has stepped forward to claim responsibility for writing."
The statement also said the coach in question "has a long history of volunteering and coaching in the St. Vital Minor Hockey Association."
Minor hockey officials are meeting with the parents and players from the team later tonight to determine what actually happened and decide if any discipline is warranted.
Don McIntosh, president of the Winnipeg Minor Hockey Association, said it didn’t make sense that the coach would be teaching his players how to fight, given the severe penalties handed out for fighting by Winnipeg minor hockey.
The minimum penalty for a first fighting infraction is a five-minute major, a game misconduct and a two-game suspension. By a third fight, a player is suspended indefinitely.
"My sense is the thing’s been blown out of proportion," said McIntosh. "But St. Vital Minor (Hockey Association) will be reviewing that with the participants to determine what happened and then they’ll take some corrective action, or not.
"I suppose if it was determined that the coach was teaching them how to fight, he’s probably not going to be coaching any longer."
Hockey Manitoba will not be investigating the incident, said executive director Peter Woods. It is the responsibility of local minor hockey associations to handle the investigation and decide on disciplinary actions, with Hockey Manitoba providing support if necessary, he said.