Hockey Montreal refuses to fix mistake after Bantam A player suspended due to typo

Hockey Montreal refuses to fix mistake after Bantam A player suspended due to typo

A typo is keeping Seymour Bale from playing his favourite sport.

The 13-year-old plays defence on the Rosemont Chevaliers, a Bantam A hockey team. On Oct. 22, a fight broke out on the ice, and while Seymour wasn't involved, the referee wrote down his jersey number, number 18, by accident.

The penalty for the fight: a four-game suspension for Seymour, which the teen only found out about two weeks later.

Seymour and his father, Alan Bale, expected the mistake to be rectified easily, but Hockey Montreal refused to budge, saying it was too late to correct the initial error.

For Seymour, who loves hockey, the whole situation has been upsetting.

"I was really angry about a week ago. I'm probably past angry. I'm really sad about it. It's just really disappointing," Seymour told CBC Montreal's Daybreak.

Coach missed ref's error

It was number 19, one of Seymour's teammates, who started the fist fight and was removed from the ice on Oct. 22. 

But when the referee took down the wrong number, Seymour's coach failed to notice. Bale said it was only the coach's second week with the team, and she was still learning everyone's names and numbers.

However, Hockey Montreal ruled that Seymour's coach should have known to check for mistakes on the referee's scoresheet.

"Especially when the coach is an ex-referee from Hockey Montreal for about 10 years, she knows the rules; she knows what they have to do," explained Serge Guay, the chair of Hockey Montreal's disciplinary committee.

Since the Chevaliers's coach was oblivious to the scoresheet error, Seymour went on to play the next two games, while number 19 sat out.

When Hockey Montreal found out Seymour had played when he was supposed to be suspended, the coach was suspended as well — and both games Seymour had played reverted to automatic losses.

'They refused to budge'

After learning of the suspension, Bale scheduled a meeting with Hockey Montreal's disciplinary committee. He expected that once committee members understood the mistake, they would apologize and allow Seymour back on the ice.

"I assumed at every level that this would be sorted out; it was such a clear-cut, ridiculous case," said Bale.

"I assumed some sane person somewhere must be involved in the organization that is going to realize that there is no benefit to suspending a player who did nothing."

Instead, Hockey Montreal upheld the suspension, arguing that the coach is to blame — something that left Seymour dismayed. 

"They're blaming these volunteers who give up their time to teach kids how to play hockey, and they're attacking them. I just thought that was awful," he said.

Hockey Montreal has never outright acknowledged anything unfair in the organization's dealings with Seymour, even though it has acknowledged he was not the player involved in the Oct. 22 fight. It removed an extra two-game suspension Seymour faced after the two players involved in the fight said Seymour played no part in it.

Too late?

Hockey Montreal has taken the position that Seymour's coach waited too long to seek a correction, contravening regulations about the timeline set out by Hockey Quebec.

Hockey Quebec, however, says that there's no such deadline.

"It's just a question of using common sense sometimes, like anything else in life," said Yvan Dallaire, Hockey Quebec's director of rules and regulations. "If you're 100 per cent sure that it's the wrong number, you just change it, and that's it."

"Nobody wants to penalize a kid that doesn't deserve it, and nobody wants to let a player who deserves to be suspended play when he deserves to be suspended."

Hockey Quebec says it is now looking into the issue.

While Seymour has already sat out three of the four games for which he was suspended, his father said he still hopes he'll be able to play the fourth game.

Bale is also asking for an apology from Hockey Montreal.

"It's his outlet. It's the thing he enjoys most in life, besides his family and his pets," said Bale.

"I think this is just morally wrong. It's just the wrong thing to do."