Port aux Basques Mariners coach and general manager Mark Lawrence has been suspended for the balance of the 2017-2018 West Coast Senior Hockey League season.
League president Andy Brake of Deer Lake confirmed the suspension Tuesday morning.
According to Brake, the suspension stems from Lawrence’s handling of the situation when it comes to the league’s playoff schedule for the Mariners and Deer Lake Red Wings best-of-five semifinal series.
Brake said the Mariners were supposed to host Game 4 of the series Sunday in Port aux Basques.
However, Lawrence sent an email to Brake stating that wasn’t going to happen and he didn’t provide a venue for the game because the ice wasn’t available at the Bruce II Sports Centre for a Game 4.
Over the next few days, Brake said he received correspondence from Lawrence on the issue that he and the executive felt was disrespectful so they responded by issuing the suspension and notified Lawrence by way of letter.
“To say the least they were very disrespectful,” Brake said of the email exchange with Lawrence.
Brake said the executive is a volunteer group who are trying to do what’s best for the league while experiencing some challenges in the first year as a full-fledged senior hockey league so the least they can expect is respect from the teams in the league.
Lawrence didn’t want to get into a discussion over the events, but he did say the Mariners organization have filed an appeal and are waiting to hear a response from Hockey Newfoundland and Labrador’s senior council.
“I disagreed with the schedule and I’m getting punished for it,” Lawrence said. “At the end of the day I have to look out for the best interest of my team, too, and that’s what I was doing.”
Lawrence insisted that he was only thinking about the players and fans of the team when he took the stance he did with the schedule.
He’s not going to let the incident, regardless of what happens with the appeal, have a negative impact on the team.
“We will be ready to go on Friday and we will be ready to push the series to Game 5,” he said.
Game 4 goes Friday night 8 p.m. at the Bruce II Sports Centre with the Mariners facing elimination.