Cougars get credit for honesty
by Blaine Meller
The controversy, in the eyes of the ACAC, is dead.
The Mount Royal University men’s hockey team are the 2010-11 champions. They defeated rival SAIT 1-0 in the fifth and final game of their series to claim the 13th provincial title in team history.
The controversy, in case you missed it, started when Mount Royal self-disclosed a violation of the ACAC’s operating code after dressing a player who was deemed to be an ineligible back-up goaltender. The conference’s hockey commissioner overturned the final game result and decided the contest must be replayed.
Mount Royal launched an appeal, which was heard by a tribunal, and the commissioner’s original verdict was overthrown.
But what is being overlooked here is not the why, but rather the who.
I really don’t want to come across as a homer here, but not enough credit is being given to the university for self-disclosing this violation. That’s right, the Cougars turned themselves in.
This was not a case of sour grapes by a SAIT team in search of its fifth consecutive provincial title, although listening to some recent comments from a SAIT player made to the media could lead one to believe there are, in fact, sour grapes.
Rules are rules, that particular SAIT player is quoted as saying. If this was the regular season, the game would have been an automatic forfeit, he suggested.
If it were only about winning, why would the Cougars have traveled this road? The team could have been forced to replay Game 5 and the outcome could have been very different this time.
Right from the beginning of my time with The Reflector, each and every Mount Royal coach I have spoken with has talked about doing things the right way: with honour, respect, sportsmanship and dedication.
If the shoe was one the other foot, would SAIT have done the same thing? I don’t mean to question the integrity of SAIT, its coaching staff and players, but it is a legitimate question. It would be very easy for them to answer that question now, one week after the fact. But put yourself in that place: you win a championship and find out you did so while violating a rule. Your opponent has no knowledge of the infraction. Do you take the high road or look at winning as the bottom line, not matter how you won?
In the end, the ACAC tribunal ruled in favour of Mount Royal based on a number of factors, including the fact that the player in question did not have an outcome on the game, the school’s academic record and record of the players.
Many are calling this a common-sense decision, and in many ways, it is. But it has opened a can of worms as well. How is the ACAC going to deal with situations like this should it occur in the future?
Hopefully all sides can learn from this and put protocols in place to avoid future such situations. Games are meant to be decided on the field of play, not in boardrooms.