Minor hockey coach fired in Quebec for punishing kids after loss

Sunaya Sapurji
AP Photo
AP Photo

A minor hockey coach in Laval, Que., is out of a job today after forcing his Laval-North Cobra Atom AA team – made up of 9-and-10-year-olds – to run outside the arena in their equipment for 20 minutes.

According to the front page story by Gabriel Beland of La Presse, the parents of the children were in the arena and unaware of what the coach was doing. It was only after the children returned to the rink that they found out what had happened and contacted both La Presse and the Minor Hockey Association of Laval-North.

Representatives of the minor hockey association met with the coach on Tuesday and both sides decided it was best for the coach to leave.

“Following a meeting with the coach, he admitted the facts on this case,” Hockey Laval-North vice-president Benoit Puskas told La Presse. “There was a common agreement that the AA atom coach needed to resign. Hockey Laval-North does not adhere to this type of behaviour and isn’t consistent with our values.”

This incident comes on the heels of another Quebec minor hockey case in which Lac-St-Louis PeeWee coach, Louis Isabella, was suspended an entire season for forcing players to do hundreds of push-ups following a loss on Sept. 18. According to a report in the Montreal Gazette, Isabella forced children ages 11 and 12 to do between 100 and 350 pushups after a 7-2 loss. It was so bad that radio station CJAD reported some of the children had to go to the doctor.

Hockey parents from the league told CJAD they saw pictures of the children’s arms which were inflamed from the work, a few kids had to miss school and visit doctors after the practice.

In an interview with CTV Montreal, Isabella defended his position and said the punishment was greatly exaggerated. He said the push-ups had nothing to do with the loss but rather the poor attitude of his players. From CTV News:

“I don’t care about winning or losing. It’s not about that at that age,” he told CTV Montreal. “You could see (the players) were bickering with each other. The game wasn’t going their way because of a lack of effort and work ethic. They were disrespectful to each other on the bench. Also, they were very disrespectful to the coaches.”

Isabella said the workout was not as grueling as first reported – no more than 60 to 100 push-ups over the course of about 20 minutes.

“People like to exaggerate,” said the veteran coach of 20 years. “I had them doing 10 push-ups at a time, with breaks in between.”