ICE fire assistant coach for tweets
TSN reports the Kootenay ICE has fired assistant coach Roman Vopat.
According to Taking Note’s Gregg Drinnan, the WHL’s ICE dismissed Vopat from his role as assistant head coach late last week after he posted several tweets criticizing Canadian World Junior Hockey team head coach Tim Hunter, who is also head coach of the Moose Jaw Warriors, following Canada’s loss to Finland in the WJC quarter-finals. A WHL alumnus, Vopat played parts of two seasons with the Warriors, as well as the Prince Albert Raiders in the mid-1990s before being drafted into the NHL.
Of the recent development, Vopat, 42, told Taking Note, “I can’t confirm or deny. I will not make further comments.”
He was not listed on the team’s lineup sheet for the Jan. 4 game against Medicine Hat Tigers but was there for the game against the visiting Victoria Royals on Dec. 31.
Additionally, his photo and biographical information cannot be found on the team’s website.
Contacted by e-KNOW this morning, the ICE this afternoon provided the following statement: “Roman was a part-time resource for our coaches on home game days and was released from his consulting agreement based on breaches of team policy, including our social media policy and his consulting agreement. We thank Roman for his contributions during his time with the ICE and will have no further comment.”
As for what was said on Twitter: “I feel for them but you don’t deserve a thing in sport -earn it!!! Out coached!!” Vopat tweeted in a response to a tweet complaining of Canada’s loss to Finland.
He also commented on Hunter’s choice to have team captain Maxime Comtois, who it was revealed after the tourney had been playing with a shoulder injury, take the team’s penalty shot in awarded in overtime.
“He isn’t the natural goal scorer like Glass, Leason, Frost or Tippett so put him in that situation was a bad move by Hunter,” Vopat wrote.
A day before those tweets, Vopat called out Hunter for publicly criticizing young Canadian up-and-comer Alexis Lafrenière, but not commenting on Comtois receiving an embellishment penalty.
“You know my problem I have with all this—he challenged 17-year-old on national TV, paper and social media about not performing but he doesn’t have the guts to call out his captain on diving all over the place,” Vopat wrote in response to a tweet by former NHL player Kyle Wellwood, who tweeted: “Why would an old school coach not say something to Max about is (sic) diving. @4thlinevoice I was at the game last night and his behaviour was embarrassing. No wonder they ran up the score 14-0 Against Denmark, he led the charge with the “C” on his sweater.”
The Twitter-verse has come to Vopat’s defence.
Pucklandia host Chad Balcom opined: “I really liked how Roman Vopat is just a regular guy on this very platform, despite being an assistant coach in the #WHL & former NHL player. It sucks that it came back to bite him. Unfortunate situation all the way around.”
HotStoveSportsCards added: “@RomanVopat Your criticism was 100% on point and a correct take. Hope you land on your feet.”
Spajetti tweeted: “Wow. Roman Vopat a little too spot on for the Ice?”
From the Czech Republic, Vopat has spent the past two seasons as an assistant coach with the ICE, hired by former general manager/owner Jeff Chynoweth, and was an assistant coach in Prince George for two seasons before that.
His NHL career consisted of 133 games over four seasons with the St. Louis Blues, Los Angeles Kings, Chicago Blackhawks and Philadelphia Flyers.
The ICE is currently second last in the WHL’s Eastern Conference.