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BCHL makes some moves in Clippers coaching probe

Nanaimo Clippers head coach Darren Naylor will remain off the bench for the rest of the B.C. Hockey League season.
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Nanaimo Clippers head coach Darren Naylor will remain off the bench for the rest of the B.C. Hockey League season. The league announced Wednesday that Naylor will stay on administrative leave until May 31, effectively until after the regular season and playoffs are concluded.

Clippers assistant coach Colin Birkas, who was also on league-ordered administrative, is allowed to return to the team and will take over the head coaching role the rest of the season, team owner Wes Mussio said.

Veteran Bob Beatty has been handling the Nanaimo bench duties as interim head coach in the absence of Naylor and Birkas after they were placed on temporary administrative leave by the BCHL for allegedly breaching the league’s coaches code of conduct.

Mussio said Beatty will remain to help Birkas on the bench, as will Bob Foglieta.

The BCHL has not specified what the alleged breaches are, leaving an air of uncertainty hanging over the situation that was only barely lifted by the latest announcement.

“After commencing an independent investigation into allegations of a breach of the B.C. Hockey League’s code of conduct by Nanaimo Clippers head coach Darren Naylor and associated coach Colin Birkas, the BCHL placed both coaches on administrative leave last month, so that the investigation could be completed in a timely matter having regards to all parties’ legal rights,” the BCHL said in statement released on Twitter.

“The investigation has been partly completed, but is still ongoing.

“To ensure fairness in the process, the BCHL has determined that Colin Birkas can return to the coaching staff of the Clippers, while Darren Naylor will continue on administrative leave until May 31, 2022. The investigation continues and the BCHL will have no further comment until the matter is fully resolved.”

The BCHL informed the Clippers players of their decision to suspend Naylor and Birkas in an email to them on Feb. 7, before hiring an independent investigator to look into matters.

In a team statement on Feb. 11, Mussio said: “A complaint was brought forth to our attention back on October. We immediately did our own internal investigation and found no serious issues.”

The Clippers are third in the BCHL Coastal Conference at 29-16-2 and have clinched a playoff berth.

cdheensaw@timescolonist.com