Canmore junior hockey coach suspended, fined following news interviews about team outbreak


A southern Alberta hockey coach has been suspended and fined after speaking with the media about a COVID-19 outbreak on his team last month, CBC News has learned.

On Friday, the league issued a 15-game suspension and a $1,000 fine against Andrew Milne, the coach of the Alberta Junior Hockey League's Canmore Eagles, according to an email to AJHL executives and its member teams.

The suspension and fine were confirmed by league commissioner Ryan Bartoshyk, who said Milne was disciplined for "bringing discredit to the league."

Meanwhile, the league is preventing teams from speaking publicly or posting on social media ordering all media requests related to the pandemic or the league's return to play plan to the AJHL Office.

The AJHL has also changed its protocols, deciding not to publicly report confirmed cases of COVID-19 in players and staff, according to a Nov. 21 email obtained by CBC, sent from Bartoshyk to team executives. 

"Our goal was to be transparent but it's only drawing negative reactions and not necessary as part of our guidelines," wrote Bartoshyk.

As of Nov. 17, three teams besides the Eagles had reported positive cases of COVID-19, but it's unclear whether there have been further cases within the league since the new directive was issued. 

Despite requesting an interview, Bartoshyk provided only a written statement to CBC News and would not answer a question as to whether there had been further cases since the latest directive.

In late November, Milne spoke with CBC and other media outlets about the struggles of his team in dealing with a COVID outbreak. Milne explained "how fast the web can unwind and get going … and how quickly it gets from one guy to the next."

On Nov. 14, the Eagles were playing the Drumheller Dragons when a player on the Canmore team began feeling sick at the away-game.

Once on the bus post-game, the player said he felt "a bit weak," according to the coach, who figured it could be because the team had just played two games.

Within two weeks, 16 players and team staff had tested positive.