The Posse’s former coaches – who were bounced from the bench last month – are suing the local Junior B club for $17,300 in unpaid wages.
The case could turn out to be one of the team’s most important hockey fights, because according to director of player personnel Randy McLean, the Posse just doesn’t have the money to lose.
“No, we can’t afford it. In the immediate future it would be impossible,” he said.
McLean couldn’t speculate on what a judgment against the team would mean.
“I don’t know what the next step would be.”
Head coach Geoff Goodman and assistant coach Lance Vaillancourt filed suit in Penticton Small Claims Court last week. Goodman is suing for $13,333 and Vaillancourt is seeking damages of $3,000.
“I have a two-year fixed term contract with no termination clause,” Geoff Goodman told The Spotlight in an interview Monday. “I just want them to honor their commitment.”
Goodman and Vaillancourt were fired November 16, after compiling a five win-18 loss record in the first two-and-a half-months of the 2017-2017 season with the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League.
Goodman said he was surprised both at the termination and the team’s refusal to pay out the balance of his contract, which promised $32,000 annually.
“I thought Lance and I were doing, well obviously we weren’t winning games, but we were doing the best we could and a contract is a contract.”
Goodman said: “There was no indication that anything was wrong right up until the end. I thought I had a good relationship with the people in Princeton and with the board and obviously there were people who didn’t feel that way.”
Goodman was hired in April 2014, after the Posse declined to pick up a third year option with coach Bill Rotheisler.
He said there was nothing in his termination interview that indicated he or Vallaincort – who was hired by Goodman – did anything wrong.
“I thought it would be taken care of…It was very good. He [McLean] thanked me for my time. He said he felt really bad about the board’s decision and offered to write me a nice letter of recommendation.”
Two weeks later Goodman received a letter from the Posse executive indicating he had been dismissed for cause.
“They were claiming some different things,” Goodman said, adding he did not want to discuss details of the letter. “I’d rather not. I’d rather let the courts decide what the outcome will be. I still respect some of the people there and I’m not going to sling mud.”
A letter sent to Posse players following the dismissal said: “the Posse thank Geoff and Lance for all they have done for us and all the players they have worked with along the way. This is not an easy decision but the club felt a change was needed to maintain the long-term goals of the organization and the current team.”
However in a November 23 story in the Similkameen Spotlight Posse director Dean Johnston indicated coaching behavior – specifically the way Goodman and Vallaincort have communicated with the league – was a factor.
“We all know what their record is. But it was also about how we were being viewed around the league. There was no doubt that both Geoff and Lance were very concerned about player safety, as is everybody,” said Johnston. “At the end of the day how they handled that with respect to the league became a big issue for us.”
This week McLean repeated those concerns. “There was an inability to cooperate with the league and league officials… Obviously their record wouldn’t be a positive in their favor but I honestly believe that even if that win loss record was reversed, with the behavior, we would still have released them.”
Goodman has returned to his former coaching position, as an assistant with the Osoyoos Coyotes.
This Wednesday Osoyoos travels to Princeton for the Posse’s annual Christmas afternoon game, which is traditionally attended by all of Princeton’s elementary school students.
“I’m curious to see how Princeton is doing and will be excited to be seeing the boys. I have no worries or issues with coming back at all. It’s just a hockey game and this was a business decision,” said Goodman
McLean said he thinks Goodman’s return to the local rink “will be interesting.”