Hockey Justice Suspension Overturned For Coach


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Hockey Justice Suspension Overturned For Coach July 20, 2012 8:10 AM

Brian Cranford allowed his players to study for exams instead of attending the opening ceremony of a hockey tournament, doing the right thing for his student athletes. No good deed goes unpunished right? Well this time, justice has been served, maybe just a little late.

The Head Coach of the Mount Pearl Junior Blades team who has been volunteering in that position for the last 20 years, was smacked with a one-year ban last month by Hockey Newfoundland and Labrador. Cranford’s suspension generated international attention when it first hit the news in June. The team was also slapped with a $2,000 fine.

But Hockey Canada, in a letter dated Thursday, reversed the suspension decision.

Allan Matthews, Chairman of the committee said "A reasonable person would assume that any sanctions for failing to appear at the two tournament events would be limited to those set out in the regulations."

"In the interests of fairness, the [appeals committee] has determined that the decision to suspend the appellant should be overturned and, as such, the appellant’s suspension shall be lifted, effective immediately," the letter noted.

Hockey Canada’s national appeals committee reviewed the matter, and concluded there is "no dispute" that Cranford breached the tournament regulations. At the time, Hockey Newfoundland and Labrador president Jack Lee defended the decision, saying the rules were clear — teams in the tournament had to be there from start to finish.

But the committee said the punishment for that absence was specified in the rules — the loss of the team’s performance bond and per diems.

Hockey Canada concluded that "it would be unreasonable to apply additional discipline," given the fact that the penalty to be meted out was actually in writing.

"Had HNL wished to reserve the right to suspend the appellant, it should have included wording to that effect in … the regulations, so that anyone who was considering failing to appear at the opening ceremonies and banquet would have been fully aware of the consequences of taking that action," the letter, written by appeals committee chairman Allan Matthews, noted.

But Cranford — who actually received an award from Hockey Newfoundland and Labrador last year — said it was hard enough getting his players out for the games, never mind the opening ceremonies, because the tournament fell right in the middle of university exams.


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