4 Moose Jaw Warriors players suspended for season, coach and GM for 5 games after 'off-ice incident': WHL
The head coach and general manager of the Western Hockey League's Moose Jaw Warriors have been sidelined, along with four major junior hockey players, following an investigation into an undisclosed off-ice incident while the team was in Edmonton.
The league announced the conclusion of an investigation into a violation of team rules and the league's policies on Friday, along with the resulting sanctions against the Warriors, which include a $25,000 fine.
The four Moose Jaw players, who were previously indefinitely suspended while the investigation was underway, have now been suspended for the balance of the WHL regular season, the league said in a news release.
The players — defenceman Marek Howell and forward Lynden Lakovic, both 16, 19-year-old defenceman Max Wanner, and 21-year-old goalie Connor Ungar — will be required to complete further personal conduct and respect training to be reinstated by the league.
Wanner was an Edmonton Oilers draft pick.
Warriors head coach Mark O'Leary and general manager Jason Ripplinger were also given five-game suspensions for "failing to provide the proper oversight and supervision required to ensure a safe and positive environment for players, in particular, while travelling," the league said in its Friday news release.
The league has released few details about the incident, saying only that it involved "an off-ice incident while on a team road trip in Edmonton" in February.
The Warriors played the Oil Kings in Edmonton on Feb. 3.
After being notified about the incident, the WHL's security network — which consists of liaison officers assigned to each club — conducted a preliminary review, and then commissioned an independent third-party to investigate, the league's news release said.
Police in Edmonton and Moose Jaw were also notified, but the Edmonton Police Service said the incident was not criminal, according to the release.
The WHL said while the players' conduct was not found to be criminal, it violated team and league rules outlined in the its standard of conduct policy, which includes guidelines in five areas:
Abuse, bullying, harassment and hazing.
Social media and networking.
Diversity and inclusion.
Discipline for violations can vary, as outlined in the league's policies and regulations.
The league said Friday it would not provide more information on the incident "out of respect for the privacy of all of the parties involved."
A statement from the Warriors said it accepts the sanctions and that it takes full responsibility for the policy violations.
"With the support of the WHL, the Warriors are fully committed to learning from this incident and will take the necessary steps to improve security moving forward," it said.
James Gallo, the Warriors' communications officer, directed further inquiries to the Western Hockey League.
Edmonton Oil Kings spokesperson Andrew Peard also said the WHL would handle media inquiries into the incident.
The WHL did not return multiple requests for comment.