The president of the Battlefords Minor Hockey Association (BMHA) says a decision to not continue a jersey patch for a player lost to suicide was more complicated than a simple approval issue.
The BMHA’s Barons hockey team had been wearing patches in honour of Ash Lascelle, a 15-year-old boy who died by suicide in January.
Some members of the team were pushing to have the patches stay on the jerseys until 2021, when Lascelle would have fully graduated from the BMHA system.
Lascelle’s father told 650 CKOM on Tuesday the team had been told to take off the patch at the end of the season.
Association President Jenni Wuttunee didn’t respond to requests for comment until Friday afternoon, saying the story shared by Neil Lascelle was incomplete.
“This is a parent grieving in an unhealthy way,” she said.
Wuttunee said the decision to remove the jersey patches came after a three-hour long board meeting.
She wouldn’t disclose what was brought up at the meeting, but said several players and parents had indicated they didn’t want the patches to stay.
“We allowed the team this year to have the patch on the jersey,” she said.
“Next year it’s going to be a completely different team with completely different kids.”
Over 2,000 people have signed a petition calling on the BMHA to reverse their decision.
Wuttunee said they encouraged the players on the 2017-18 Barons to take the patches and put them on backpacks, hockey bags or their personal jackets instead.
She also noted Ash Lascelle hadn’t played on his hockey team for two months before he took his own life, while the boy who designed the logo for the patch wasn’t a member of the team.
However, Lascelle’s parents said Ash had been injured in a game on Dec. 1 while his friend Konnor Snyder was still in bantam and will move to the midget Barons in 2018-19.
Wuttunee said in an email to a concerned citizen there were better ways to remember the teen.
“I think Ash’s memory could be better served in a more positive way by shining a light on mental illness and demanding the supports so desperately needed in our community,” she wrote.