Adam Williams, Sports Editor Ω
A conditional discharge – which includes one year of probation, a ban on drinking alcohol and entering bars and $30,000 in restitution – will leave no criminal record behind.
And Colten DeFrias will continue to play hockey for TRU.
It happened almost two years ago, Oct. 23, 2011, on Victoria Street in downtown Kamloops. DeFrias, who at the time played for the Kamloops Storm of the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League, was out drinking with the team following a 6-0 home win against the Golden Rockets and became involved in an altercation with a man named Andrew Giddens.
DeFrias punched Giddens in the mouth, knocking out four teeth and fracturing his jaw.
He was convicted of assault causing bodily harm on Dec. 11, 2012 as a result of the incident and was sentenced earlier this month. He will face no discipline from TRU, the athletics department or the BCIHL.
All this begs the question – what sort of standards do we hold our student athletes to here at TRU? Should DeFrias have faced punishment from TRU or the WolfPack, or is this beyond the reach of the institution? Regardless of whether he was a member or the WolfPack at the time, if we want our athletes to be seen as role models for the community, should DeFrias be allowed to continue playing hockey for TRU?
“If this were to have occurred while Colten was a member of the WolfPack, we would have been more actively involved in a reaction,” said WolfPack general manager Chris Hans. “This happened prior to him even applying to TRU.”
DeFrias has 12 goals and 14 assists in 20 games played this season, he’s second in team scoring behind forward Alessio Tomassetti.
Hans says that DeFrias has not been a behavioural concern whatsoever in his time with the WolfPack, but he has been made aware, as the rest of his teammates have, that there will be zero tolerance should any inappropriate behaviour occur while he is a member of the WolfPack. All TRU athletes adhere to a code of conduct, which specifies that, “Any member of a university team whose conduct puts the reputation of the university, teammates, coaches or themselves in a compromising position may be subject to disciplinary action.”
All things considered, allowing DeFrias to move on and continue playing hockey for TRU is probably the right call. Though he caused a significant injury to Giddens – Giddens has undergone five root canals since and will now need implants fashioned from bone in his hip – at some point DeFrias has to be allowed to move on with his life. He will pay for his actions with the consequences implemented by the court, whether or not those sanctions were harsh enough is another debate entirely, but one that won’t be discussed here.
DeFrias knows now that he’ll get no more second chances from the WolfPack.
“Once the sentence was imposed, I told Colten we expect him to abide by every last condition,” Hans said. “If we see otherwise – we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it – but we won’t be turning a blind eye.”
Hans believes DeFrias has learned his lesson and has done a lot of growing up since the incident, supporting the team’s and the institution’s decision not to pursue further action. DeFrias expressed his regret in court this January.
“I am sorry to Andrew for the injury I caused him and the trouble I caused to his family,” DeFrias said. “I will continue to grow and learn.”
With files from Devan C. Tasa.