The OHL's Windsor Spitfires are without a coach for 40 games and a general manager for a year as OHL Commissioner David Branch laid down the law today. Branch issued the suspension to Windsor GM and coach Moe Mantha over disturbing tales of a hazing incident on the team bus from early September.
Mantha who holds down the dual posts will have nothing to do with the on ice aspects of the team for 25 games for the hazing and another 15 games for practice fights in his camps. As well as his coaching penalties, Mantha will have no organizational duties with the team for a year, his penalty for a lapse of judgment and definite lack of leadership with his team.
The hazing incident stems from a situation that developed on a bus trip back from London after an exhibition game. Rookie players were told by more established ones, to strip and stand naked in the small bathroom at the rear of the bus. Mantha did not apparently step in at the time to put an end to the practice, a situation that put him in violation of the league's strict zero tolerance policy towards hazing.
The practice fighting problem has been an ongoing situation in the Spitfire camp as disagreements between two players continued to fester through the training camp and into the season. Akim Aliu and Steve Downie have continued to spar through out the early eason, culminating in a nasty altercation on September 28th when Downie and Aliu collided one final time. An investigation by the Spitfires determined that Downie cross checked Aliu in the face during the incident, Aliu then returned to the ice from the dressing room and engaged Downie in a fight, which was unobserved by anyone on the coaching staff none of whom were on the ice at the time.
The continual problems in the Spitfire camp have resulted in Downie refusing to return to the team and demanding a trade and now have cost Mantha his job for 40 games.
The Spitfires have also been hit in the cheque book as the OHL imposed 35,000 dollars in fines, 25,000 for the hazing incident and 10,000 for the practice troubles. Branch who is not afraid to take action when required, pointed out that the league and its member teams have an obligation to guard over the well being of it's players.
His observations showcase the leagues commitment to it's players, something that they owe to the families of the young men that play for their teams. It is also something that Mantha lost of sight of this year.