The father of a teenage hockey player says his son’s coach tried to stop athletes from sharing information with their parents.
Raymond Boyd’s son plays for the Bantam AA Pirates of the Prince Albert Minor Hockey Association (PAMHA)’s competitive development system.
Boyd said the teen relayed a speech coach Shawn Phaneuf allegedly made during a Jan. 3 practice.
“He said, ‘I have a bunch of parents who are pissed at me because you guys are telling them about things that are happening inside the dressing room,'” Boyd said.
“Then he said, ‘Unless you guys are getting inappropriately touched or something illegal, or racial slurs, I don’t want you guys going back and telling your parents what goes on.'”
Phaneuf allegedly said he’d call a parents’ meeting if the players, aged 13 and 14, kept sharing what was said in the dressing room.
The coach reportedly used sexually-graphic language as he threatened to reveal details of his players’ personal lives.
Other parents told 650 CKOM their sons recounted the same details as Boyd’s son, including vulgar language and profanity.
Those parents spoke on condition of anonymity out of fear their complaints would impact their sons’ chances of being drafted into the Western Hockey League (WHL).
“(Phaneuf) is making us choose between hockey and our morals,” said one parent. “That’s a tough call for a lot of us hockey parents.”
The parent recalled a pre-season meeting with the coach, where Phaneuf said he’d have many scouts from the WHL coming to him to ask questions.
“(He said) ‘I won’t just be telling them about how your kid acts, I’ll be explaining about any problem parents,” the source said.
The ‘unwritten rule’
Boyd brought his concerns to team manager Trevor Klassen after hearing his son’s account of the meeting. Klassen then emailed a statement, written by the coach, to the team.
“(Players) were told that not everything that is said in the dressing room needs to be shared with people outside of the team,” the statement read in part.
“I may have used some language in the delivery of my speech that was potentially offensive to some. I will be more aware of what words are chosen when I am conveying a message to the players in the future.”
Phaneuf went on to apologize if parents or their children were offended.
The statement also referred to the “unwritten rule” of hockey as “what’s said in the dressing room, stays in the dressing room.”
Boyd and several other parents took issue with the statement, saying it only apologized for people being offended – not for what was said.
The father also sent an email of his own, pointing out the implications of parents being considered “outside the team.”
“Parents are the reason the team exists at all…they are integral to it,” he wrote.
Seven days after the incident, team management called an impromptu parents’ meeting during a practice. Boyd said no one was informed of the meeting before it happened, and he wasn’t present.
Other parents in attendance told 650 CKOM they were assured by Pirates’ management and a representative from the PAMHA that Phaneuf had been spoken to about his comments.
They were also told their children would be encouraged to report any violations of the PAMHA code of conduct.
At a parent’s request, Boyd shared his side of the story at a formal meeting held with PAMHA board members on Jan. 12.
On Jan. 17, Boyd submitted three formal complaints – two against Phaneuf, and one against the PAMHA technical director.
Boyd asked for Phaneuf to be suspended indefinitely while an investigation was conducted into the incidents.
All three charges were addressed in two separate letters sent on Jan. 17.
The board determined Phaneuf violated PAMHA policies on vulgarity. A disciplinary letter was attached to his coaching file; however, the board declined to suspend Phaneuf for his actions.
“Mr. Phaneuf has been reminded of the expectations of a minor hockey coach in Prince Albert,” the letter said. “We now consider the matter closed.”
The complaint against the PAMHA technical director was dismissed.
Boyd said he thought it was strange he got a ruling on his complaints without a hearing mandated by the PAMHA’s own bylaws.
Boyd took his concerns to the Saskatchewan Hockey Association, which has since forced the PAMHA to hold an in-person hearing on all three counts.
The closed-door meeting is set for Monday night in Prince Albert.
Team management and PAMHA representatives declined to comment as the situation is ongoing.
Phaneuf told 650 CKOM Monday he would comment on the matter later this week, following the hearing.