Portsmouth hockey players skate by on drinking controversy


A few weeks back, the Portsmouth boys hockey team created some ruckus when a few of its players filmed themselves drinking alcohol in the locker room after a victory. I am not a Portsmouth reporter, so when the story broke, it was a headline that I briefly read and figured the kids would be thrown off the team and that would be that.

Well, news broke last week that the kids in the video received a two-game suspension from the team and that the Rhode Island Interscholastic League would not investigate the situation further.

As you could expect, it created quite the controversy and triggered a response from the Rhode Island High School Hockey Coaches Association, which condemned the team and RIIL for the lenient punishment and lack of response.

The details of the video have been veiled pretty well. I’m assuming since they’ve since been deleted and it also involved minors. In the coaches association’s statement, it even referenced possible sexual harassment taking place. Again, I am not aware of many specific details, but either way, what a mess this situation is.

I join the masses in saying that it is a horrible example being set for the kids. At minimum, the players in the video should be removed from the team. They were caught breaking the law as well as team rules and being reckless in doing so. There is no justifiable reason to keep them on board at this point.

In my opinion, the coaches should be investigated, too. Not because I believe they were aware, or bought the kids the booze or anything like that. But, instead, because this all happened under their supervision. You can’t see everything all the time, but kids filming themselves drinking in the locker room seems pretty tough to miss.

Then, when it comes to the RIIL. I can’t say I blame it for staying out of it while it waited to see the response from the team. At this point, now that we have seen the two-game suspensions be handed out, I do believe it is time to act.

I do agree with some that the entire team should not be punished. It’s not like I am saying the club should be shut down to set an example. The kids involved, though, at best should be suspended for the remainder of the year. If they play spring sports, I also think a suspension into those months should be considered as well.

A part of this story that is sad and pretty relevant was who the team was facing that night: West Warwick.

Last hockey season, West Warwick hockey player Matthew Dennison was killed by a drunk driver while teammate Kevin MacDonald was also injured in the crash.

Portsmouth beat the Wizards and insulted the West Warwick team in the video. I’m not sure if the kids thought about the big picture when it came to the Wizards, but either way, it was disgusting.

Kids will be kids and part of growing up as teenagers is learning from mistakes. This was a big, big mistake made by these kids. There needs to be a real punishment handed out, and a two-game suspension is anything but. It’s just a slap on the wrist.

Not to mention their parents. Easy for me to say when it was not my child involved, but I could not imagine being able to see my son behave that way and allow him to move on after a brief suspension from the team. In a way, a two-game break is a reward. It allows the kids to hang out, rest up and return in time for the playoffs.

It is time for the RIIL to step in, especially if the team does not amend its decision. The kids should not be allowed to step foot on the ice. Plain and simple. To have to explain that is dumbfounding.

On the national level, Johnston native and Boston Celtics’ Joe Mazzulla was elevated to head coach last week as the team removed his “interim” tag. The Celtics have been the best team in basketball this season, so the transaction is far from a surprise.

What a great achievement for the Mazzulla family and the state of Rhode Island as a whole. Rhody now has three head coaches in pro sports: Mazzulla, Rocco Baldelli and David Quinn.

These positions are so limited when you really think about it. In major American sports, there are only a little more than one hundred head coaching gigs, and Rhody has claimed three of them. Definitely a cool thing to see.

As for Mazzulla, especially, it will be fun to see if and how he changes things up now knowing that the job is his. He’s young and has taken a few, very few, lumps this season. Sure, his roster is extremely talented, but it takes a good coach to make the most of it and he has done just that.

One of the things that I actually detest about the modern NBA is how it is a players’ league. The players run the show oftentimes while the coaches are the chaperones.

Mazzulla has done a great job of connecting with his players and keeping them motivated, all while managing the controversy surrounding former coach Ime Udoka. This season could have easily gone sideways, and Mazzulla deserves much credit for helping keep it together.

pitch, hockey


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