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Daily Dish: Should USA Hockey's Dave Ogrean Resign? Junior Hockey News

Published: Tuesday, 20 Nov 2012  
By: Stephen Heisler, JuniorHockey.com


On Monday January 24th, 2011 USA Hockey's Executive Director Dave Ogrean received a very disturbing email from the parent of a member describing the extremely deviant sexual behavior of Massachusetts Maple Leafs coach Anthony DeSilva. Instead of following through and contacting local law enforcement authorities, Ogrean and USA Hockey allowed a sexual predator to fall through the cracks. For that, Ogrean should resign.

The father of former Maple Leafs player Alex Rivers sent a letter to Ogrean back in 2011 describing DeSilva's actions towards his then 18 year-old son Alex.

USA Hockey spokesman Dave Fischer claims that Eastern States Hockey League officials were unable to uncover sufficient evidence to support claims in regard to DeSilva.

Fischer told South Coast Today's Natalie Sherman USA Hockey officials launched an investigation two days after receiving the email. They closed the inquiry in March of that year, he said.


ESHL Commissioner Andrew "Sarge" Richards, who conducted the investigation, said he closed it because he was never able to talk to the player. The league screens coaches every two years and Rivers' complaint was the first and only against DeSilva he was aware of, he said.

"We did what we could. We're not a legal society," Richards said. "We encouraged the family at the time, if they felt the allegations they were presenting were factual, to take it to the legal authorities. The fact that they never did - I don't know why," he said.

USA Hockey felt that Richards was qualified to conduct such an investigation? I know Richards and question his ability to investigate a parking ticket, much less the behavior patterns of a sexual predator.

The contents of the transcripts of the text messages DeSilva sent to Rivers should have raised enough red flags to initiate a criminal investigation.

Did USA Hockey consider the youth hockey players that were also under the direction of DeSilva? As the executive director of the game's national governing body, how could Ogrean rest knowing that DeSilva was still on the bench?

Polk County (Fl.) Sheriff Grady Judd agrees that Ogrean and USA Hockey mishandled the situation. "They don't want the bad press, and it's not uncommon for organizations to suppress information," the outspoken sheriff told us Monday. "We see it over and over that these situations, the Catholic Church, Penn State, everyone has had these same issues and it is very embarrassing for the groups."

Judd also believes that placing the responsibility of the Rivers investigation into the hands of the ESHL commissioner was also very irresponsible. "Ethically and morally, everybody has an obligation to report instances to the proper authorities," Judd said. "I promise that with the 40 years of law enforcement, I know that DeSilva has been doing this for his entire hockey coaching career."

"Going after sexual predators is a difficult task because it's the silent crime and the kids are embarrassed," Grady concluded. "A lot of law enforcement agencies go out of their way avoid these cases and in reality, we all need to work together to protect the victims."

USA Hockey appears to now be playing a game of hot potato. Fischer claims that the national office passed the information onto the ESHL and the ESHL's Richards is saying that he was getting direction from USA Hockey and the Junior Council.

Dan Esdale, the USA Hockey Vice-President and Junior Council Chairman at that time, told us Monday that he had not seen the transcripts of the text messages that were sent between Alex Rivers and the disgraced coach. "I just wanted to talk to the kid at the time," Esdale said. "Obviously, he was just not ready. I could have taken some type of action, but had to go on more than just the email (to Ogrean)."

Did the timing of Rivers' email to Ogrean affect USA Hockey's response? The scandal at Penn State with Jerry Sandusky was not in full bloom until November of 2011. Theo Fleury's book "Playing with Fire" was released late in 2009, bringing forward new allegations against Graham James. I have to agree with Sheriff Judd, the last thing that USA Hockey wanted to deal with was another hockey sex abuse scandal.

Ogrean must have been reminded about DeSilva every time he say Sandusky's face or name on TV, why did he not insist that Rivers' allegations against the Mass Leafs coach be looked at again?

The right thing to do would have been to turn over the investigation to an entity outside of the game to avoid the apparent conflict of interest that we see today. As the man on top, Ogrean had a responsibility to realize that his organization does not have the expertise to investigate offenses of this nature. The copy of the text messages provided enough information to suspend DeSilva at the time, pending the outcome of a more thorough inquiry. That did not happen, putting every USA Hockey member, not to mention other potential victims outside of the game, into a dangerous situation while interacting with DeSilva.

Ogrean's situation is very comparable to former Penn State University President Graham Spanier. Spanier is currently out on bail on charges related to the attempted cover-up of Sandusky's crimes involving the university. One of those charges is child endangerment. By definition alone, USA Hockey officials could be at risk because they knowingly subjected minor children to inappropriate or dangerous situations.

Sports organizations should be held to the same standards as schools. At the same time, all players at the junior level should expect the same level of protection from predators as players at the youth level. Sexual misconduct and harassment is a crime, and needs to always be treated as such.

Don't just read this and agree. Do something. Join me, and many others, by demanding Ogrean's immediate resignation. It's time that the leaders in Colorado Springs understand that the game belongs to the players, not the administrators.

JuniorHockey.com is the premier website dedicated to delivering the latest news and developing stories from junior hockey across North America, as well as providing online tools for junior hockey players and prospects. With over 225,000 views each month Juniorhockey.com is the internet's leading source of junior hockey news and information. 

Stephen Heisler resides in Puerto Penasco, Mexico with his wife, Maria, and their two children, Sonia and Tomas. Tune in to his Mexico based Classic Rock Station, GoPenasco Radio.


Author: Stephen Heisler from JuniorHockey.com
Stephen Heisler has spent a lifetime in the game of hockey. Stephen is also working with individual teams, coaches, and players as a director with Victorious Hockey Company. Stephen, his wife Deysi, and four children reside in Orlando, Florida.


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