WHL says Wenatchee Wild head coach Kevin Constantine suspended

CALGARY — The Western Hockey League says Wenatchee Wild head coach Kevin Constantine has been suspended pending an independent investigation into alleged violations of WHL regulations and policies.

The league said Constantine was suspended Sunday, and he is not permitted to have any contact with any member of the organization, including players.

The WHL said the suspension came after its independent reporting channel received a complaint about Constantine's conduct.

The Wild previously operated as the Winnipeg Ice until their relocation to Wenatchee, Wash., for the 2023-24 season.

The WHL said its security network and Wenatchee Wild management met with the players to address the situation and offer support.

Constantine was previously the NHL head coach for the San Jose Sharks, Pittsburgh Penguins and New Jersey Devils.

He has also coached outside of North America, leading South Korea's Daemyung Killer Whales, Poland's Unia Oświęcim and Switzerland's HC Ambrì-Piotta.

It's not the first time Constantine has found himself in trouble with the WHL.

He was fined US$5,000 and suspended for four games by the Western Hockey League for excessively punishing his players after a loss in 2006.

The Silvertips were beaten 5-0 by Tri-City during a pre-season tournament that season and Constantine had the players remain in their gear for a post-game meal and the four-hour bus ride back to Everett.

The league thought that type of punishment was excessive.

"We believe that this type of disciplinary action on players in our league is unacceptable," WHL commissioner Ron Robison told the Everett Herald. "We have a responsibility to make sure the environment the players play in and the discipline they receive is not excessive. We felt this went beyond the normal level of appropriate discipline."

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 25, 2023.

The Canadian Press