Q. It's been a month since the hazing incident, how are you doing?
Bryant- "It's been a pretty tough time for me, a lot of stress here from what is happening, I just think things should of been handled a different way and so does my legal team and so do the people in the game of hockey."
Q. What have you learnt, if anything, from this incident so far?
Bryant- "I didn't do anything wrong and I didn't get supported. They hung me out to dry, that's what I have learnt. I have learnt who my friends are, I have learnt about people telling the truth.
"I have spent 15 years in this game and and I'm going to use to the word credibility. Anywhere I have been, anywhere I have coached I have sent leading scorers, MVPs...packing because when players break rules — I have a code of conduct, I have a standard, I have a procedure and policy to follow — I have sent those kids home.
"You know this situation is no different on how I handled [anything]. There's a rumour about a hazing and I followed procedures… [drawn upon] my years and years and hours and hours of experience.
"The only difference here is that when you hear the word "hazing"… my red lights went off, going okay, this is not a guy missing curfew, this is not a guy late for practice.
"You hear the word hazing, you go, okay, we have to do the proper investigation and I need to make sure that the people in the higher organization are informed, so before I start firing people out of Neepawa, because of the allegations of hazing, we just have to follow procedure.
Q- At the time of the hazing where were you… what were you doing?
Bryant – "I was in the office working… game plans... I do payables, receivables, I write billet cheques, I pay all the bills. At the time I don't know exactly — I [was] doing something. I could've been booking a meal for the road trip. I could be booking a bus. I could be talking on the phone about a trade.
Q – You heard the rumour… what did you do?
Bryant – "I wanna make sure, okay like rumours, rumours we got to be careful… you're in the office and I get somebody call me about a player — he did this. You can jump the gun and fly off the handle and the next thing you know it's not true, you've lost the kid, you got to go make an apology to your hockey team and you look like an ass. So... let's get the facts.
"When I heard it… I communicated with all the people — including my staff — first [to have] a meeting with the captains [to find] out what was going on… having a team meeting letting them know that… I don't condone this behaviour and there will be consequences… [then] apparently… "Tugging" was going on… I went to Myles Cathcart [Neepawa Natives board of directors member]. That night we ended up getting [Natives president] Dave McIntosh involved and I basically passed the baton to him and he communicated from that point with Kim Davis [MJHL commissioner].
Q- If you had walked into the dressing room when the hazing was going on, what would you have done?
Bryant - "I would have kayboshed it right there. I would've done the same thing — reported it. That's what I would have done. Again [over] anything else, credibility. What I have done over my career is when players have broken rules… they were dealt with. That's been the steps I have always taken, as a coach. So, I would have stopped it right there. I would have followed the same procedure [and] reported it to the people above me
Q - Did you resign or were you asked to resign?
Bryant- "I resigned. I resigned on Oct. 30 at about 9:30 a.m. I got some inside information from one of the board members [that some] shenanigans they were going to pull on me and one of them was to… let's suspend him indefinitely until the investigation is completed and then we will fire him."
"That information came to me from a source inside on a Saturday night. When I heard that I talked to my family, I talked to my friends I talked to Dale [ Dufour, Natives assistant coach]about it, I talked to people I am close to in the hockey world… and they said that's ridiculous... you've done nothing wrong. You're being made the scapegoat.
"I made a decision that night — I am walking — that I don't deserve this."
Q – But now you claim you didn't resign?
Bryant - "[Dave McIntosh] refused to accept it, threw it in the garbage. He would not accept it. He said take a couple days to re-group. I told him I was exhausted and I was I was sick about this. I said I don't condone [this] behaviour.
"He said if I do [resign] it's gonna make me look bad. It's going to make me look guilty. He says give me a couple days to make a final decision. I said, I need my name cleared Dave, No. 1 priority, No. 1 front and centre. I need my name cleared. I haven't done anything wrong.
"I'm getting hate email I am getting phone calls, Danil Kalashnikov is getting life-threatening phone calls
"So, it's like this, he looks at the top [of the resignation letter], he looks at the bottom and goes ah, [expletive deleted]! He goes, coach if you leave the teams going to fold and I'm done.
"I said, Dave I can't take it anymore I haven't been supported here. People are not listening.
"We need to tell our story and I need to clear my name 'cause I'm the guy who's sitting in the office looking at all this [expletive deleted] coming through the e-mail and obscene phone calls and message. I'm only human and then the community, thinks I'm some kind of bad person, when I'm not. And I have done everything in the right way.
"He said go home we are going to take this game tonight. Don't coach this will be your first game suspension, 'cause I had a two-game suspension I had to serve, so we will serve this night.
"I didn't walk out of there… we were shaking hands… I walked out of there knowing the fact that I'm still coaching hockey I'm going to go home I'm going to take a couple [of days],
Q - McIntosh didn't accept your resignation, you say he said, go home and take a little bit of time and the next thing you know the board directors have accepted your resignation?
Bryant – "I called Dave at 11 a.m. [Nov. 3], he said the board is having a meeting at [noon], wanting to know what my stand is. I told him I have not resigned, he said, okay, I will get back to you. Dave called me at 2:08 p.m. that same day and said, 'I have some bad news for you, you need to listen,"… he read me the press release... so the press release was that I resigned. But they didn't ask for my resignation that I resigned and so now they have done this press release."
Q - You had just signed a two-year contract, is this now just a money issue?
Bryant - "For someone to walk in and hand a resignation obviously wasn't worried about money, not at all. So there's the answer to your question. I initiated the whole thing. By being prepared to walk away.
Q - Do you think this incident has killed your career?
Bryant- "I don't know, it hasn't helped it.
Q – You said earlier that you just wanted your name cleared, what would it take?
Bryant - "I should not have been fined, I shouldn't have been suspended. Gaynor Vivian [Natives governor] said, [in a MJHL conference call], "I don't agree with Bryant being suspended, he wasn't [in the dressing room] he did nothing wrong, he followed procedure."
"Kim [Davis] said the board of governors, like the league, all 10 teams supported me. All 10 governors agreed that I did everything correct but because I'm the guy at the top I'm the guy in charge, I have to pay a penalty."
Q- You said things should have been handled differently, what do you mean?
Bryant – "I saw [public outcry] coming a mile back. I saw [media] were going to go after the player, then they went after [assistant coach Brad] Biggers, then they went for the commissioner and then they tried to put some fault on the league well then at some point its coming to me like [this is] stupid. And I can't talk, I got a gag order, can't say a bloody thing.
"If we could've had a formal press [conference] we could've had all the media there, Dave Mcintosh — we don't even need the players — we need Dave Mcintosh and myself talking to CBC, CTV, TSN [and explain to them] here's the steps we have taken.
"Kim Davis didn't clarify. All he did was cover his ass."
"[In a media interview, Davis] goes on… 'oh this is the worst thing that's ever happened I have never heard this before'… he's covering his ass
"Every freaking kid in our dressing room said when this happened, what's the big deal? It's going on everywhere in this league.
"So, what we should have done is had a press [conference. Davis is not supporting us] we're on our own here — the Neepawa Natives are on our own — let's have a press conference, okay here's the steps that are taken… this is what I have done… of making sure we have a safeguard.
"I wanted a full disclosure to everybody. Let's get it out in the open. Let's talk about it. Let's inform the people of society. Because society was going after us. This isn't about hockey. It's about society. It's about ethics. Let's clear it, let's put it out in the open and were not running away and we got nothing to hide.
"Dave made a comment to me, "ah coach I'm saying less now..., 'cause the truth will come out."
"I said, "Dave that's not the way it works anymore… people will bend it, they will shape it the way they want it and we can't come out of it."
Q – Outside of somebody writing a cheque, because that's how society seems to apologize, what could the Neepawa Natives or the MJHL do to solve your grievance?
Bryant – "It's too late. We want to get the story out but it's too late now, but you know, you can always do the right thing and tell the truth."
Q – How do you think you did during your tenure in Neepawa?
Bryant – "I think I did a pretty good job. [Before I came here] they won 20 games in the year before. We won 60 games in the last two years. I think we have shown, not just on the ice, the work ethic and the commitment but I think in the community, our kids are front and centre, you know, they're very respectful.
"I'm a guy that came in here, and I think I embraced this community and got sponsorship, and brought people into believing that the Neepawa Natives, are going to be a contending hockey club even though we haven't won a championship, we are in the [process] to get there, we are getting kids that wouldn't report here like when I came in.
"People say a lot of good things about our kids like this program that we built is bigger than just what happened with the hazing incident and don't get me wrong… I don't condone it one bit but that's why I'm still in Neepawa fighting for what's right cause I am the scapegoat and that's the bottom line.
Q- Will you coach again?
Bryant- "I want to coach, absolutely, I'm a good coach I run a good program. I [have had] success as a coach. A lot of my players, like guys at the next level, are grateful for the opportunity to play for me and I'm grateful to have them as players. I love the game that's why I came to Neepawa. Not because of money, not because of trophies, not because of … medals, because I love hockey. That's just the bottom line."
Q- What can the Natives do to turn around the program?
Bryant- "Not my problem, it's not my problem. When I was here... I bled these colours, and I worked hard to help every single player… I'm a committed guy to this thing and I've committed to my players, and one day they are going to see what I have done for them, they don't see it right now, but one day they are going to think about it, when they are raising a family, we had a pretty good guy. Bryant Perrier really cared about us and took our best interest to his heart and he wanted us to excel in other levels. And that's the truth and that's what I wanted for everyone of these kids.
"But it's not my problem they are going to have to go figure it out now."