Hockey: Ex-player wrongfully deprived of bursary ... or not?

In today's Chronicle-Herald, Glenn MacDonald has the story of former Dalhousie Tiger hockey player Kenzie Sheppard, who wants Dalhousie to pay the remaining bursary money he said is owed to him and is threatening to take the matter to small claims court if it isn’t resolved.

Sheppard said he was stunned when Dalhousie head coach Pete Belliveau informed him in May that he was no longer on the team.

"I feel like I have been lied to," Sheppard said in a telephone interview from his Howie Centre home Thursday.

"I committed myself there for four or five years, and now I feel let down, especially when I’ve done everything he asked me to do. And now the money isn’t there anymore.

"It’s a large commitment; I changed my lifestyle to go there. This is a student athlete’s life, and education is involved. But no reason was given as to why I wasn’t on the team. I was shocked. It came out of the blue.

"It’s disappointing it’s come to this. I had so many options coming out of my junior career. I picked Dalhousie because I knew it was a good school. It would be nice to get an honest explanation but I think it would be hard to get it out of (Belliveau)."

Sheppard signed a letter of understanding when he joined the Tigers in 2008. It stated he would have access to financial assistance, such as a bursary, as long as he remained with the team.

Belliveau is taking the high road, offering no reason why Sheppard was cut after two seasons with the Tigers, and Sheppard appears to be taking the wounded angel approach here, and through the media.

I can perhaps shed some light on this situation. In two years at Dal, Sheppard had proved to be the poster boy for someone who "runs around on the ice." That is not a good thing in hockey culture. A coach in the AUS told me this winter that Sheppard "should not be in this league" and that same coach was assured by Belliveau after an on ice incident last season that Sheppard "would not be back next year."

But don't just take my opinion, look at the stats and game sheets. Sheppard was a fourth-liner who amassed 7 points and 45 PIMs in 17 games played last season in the AUS. In three games he played against UNB alone he amassed slashing, spearing (twice), goaltender interference and another minor penalty, plus a major cross-checking penalty and a game misconduct. The major was in the last game of the season, and almost all of his called infractions were in the third periods. Not an angel. And I haven't listed the AUS players Sheppard is accused of injuring.

To me this is a non-story, and I believe the Chronicle-Herald is being exploited by Sheppard to try to bully the school for a payout. Sheppard's Dal bursary was conditional on his being part of the team. He got cut, so no bursary. The situation would probably be clearer if Belliveau offered up why he cut him, but I believe the coach should be allowed to make a roster decision warranted on a player's lack of discipline. If Sheppard stays in school, he will still get the remainder of his QMJHL education package. Frankly, I'm pleased to see a coach finally deal with an on-ice bully.

Sheppard at odds with Dal over bursary (Glenn MacDonald, Halifax Chronicle-Herald)
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1 comment:

  1. Surely, Belliveau must have known what kind of player
    Sheppard was.
    Five years of major junior with three teams in the Q and OHL...his stats
    were pretty much comparable to his time at Dal.
    If Belliveau was truly concerned about this guy, did he ever read
    him the riot act about his "unacceptable" on ice behaviour?
    I noticed you said most of his infractions were taken in the 3rd period...garbage time mayhem.
    I just wonder why after two years Sheppard wears out his
    welcome when it seems Belliveau looked the other way.