The Nanaimo Clippers have placed two of their coaches on temporary leave amid an ongoing investigation by the BCHL.
The club made the announcement over social media on Friday, saying the move was made in an effort to “avoid unnecessary distractions to the players” during the stretch drive of the season and to allow the BCHL to carry out an internal investigation.
Full details regarding the allegations and the investigation have not been disclosed publicly, but the Clippers statement notes that they became aware of allegations in October and conducted an internal investigation, which found “no serious” issues.
“A complaint was brought forth to our attention back in October, we immediately did our own internal investigation and found no series issues but we now wish to allow the BCHL to also fully investigate the complaints,” team owner Wes Mussio said in a statement posted Friday by the Nanaimo Clippers on Twitter.
“We stand with our players and will allow them to continue the push for the conference title without any further distractions. An interim coaching staff will be implemented forthwith while the BCHL also has a chance to investigate the allegations to their satisfaction.”
Although the statement did not specifically mention which coaches were placed on leave, head coach and general manager Darren Naylor and associate coach Colin Birkas were previously placed on temporary administrative leave while the BCHL conducted an independent investigation into allegations of code of conduct breaches, the league confirmed Friday.
“The administrative leaves were precautionary and procedural as no determinations have been made at this time,” the league said in a statement, adding it would be applying to have the judge’s injunction set aside.
On Thursday, a B.C. Supreme Court judge granted a temporary injunction restraining the BCHL from suspending Naylor and Birkas until Feb. 18, at which point they can apply to extend the injunction.
The temporary injunction comes after a notice of civil claim was filed by the Clippers Hockey Limited Partnership, Naylor and Birkas, arguing that the league acted “erroneously and in a high-handed manner” in issuing the suspensions when no allegations have been proven, irreparably damaging the coaches’ reputations and putting the team’s season in jeopardy because there are no alternate coaches to take over.
According to court documents, the coaches and team argued that the complainants who first brought forward the allegations were mostly disgruntled former employees and former billet parents “who have significant motivation to lie, exaggerate and attack without evidence in support as they had a falling out with the coaches before leaving the Clippers organizations.”
The investigation remains ongoing and none of the allegations against the coaches have been proven.
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— Nanaimo Clippers (@ClippersHockey) February 12, 2022