Everett Silvertips, Dennis Williams

TSN: Investigation Reopened – Silvertips Coach Williams

Silvertips Head Coach Under Scrutiny

Rick Westhead of TSN.ca broke a story Friday regarding the re-investigation into allegations involving Everett Silvertips head coach Dennis Williams. Williams has been the head coach of the local Western Hockey League team since 2017 and coached Team Canada to the 2023 World Junior Championship Gold Medal.

Former Silvertips equipment manager Damon Pugerude told Westhead that he made a complaint to the WHL’s Player Advisory Council in late January. That committee was formed by the league last year to independently investigate allegations of bullying, harassment, and misconduct.

Pugerude believes he was fired by the Silvertips this summer for filing the report. According to Westhead’s piece, Pugerude’s concern revolved around the following:

“… several players had shared concerns about Williams using player showers and coming out wearing only a towel while they were in the adjoining team dressing room.

The Advisory Council originally reported that there was no criminal activity or a violation of WHL policies. Westhead quoted WHL Commissioner Ron Robison:

“The WHL Head of Security has concluded his follow-up investigation and has found there is no evidence to support any of the allegations that have been made by Mr. Pugerude. The investigation also concluded that Mr. Williams did not violate WHL conduct policies.”

In May the Silvertips and the Western Hockey League were made aware of the investigation being conducted by the US Center for Safe Sport, an entity created by the US Olympic Committee in 2017 to look into allegations of abuse or misconduct in amateur sports. The Center has jurisdiction over the WHL/Canadian Hockey League teams located in the United States.

The article identifies other allegations that have led to another WHL review and the US Center for Safe Sport investigation. According to Westhead’s piece:

“The complaint also alleged that a “fighting ring” took place involving players during training camp in 2021.”

“The complaint also alleged that during the team’s training camp in 2021, Williams “walked into the bathroom while [a] player was losing consciousness following VO2 max testing. Dennis took a photo of the player on his phone while the player was on the bathroom floor and walked out, leaving the player unconscious on the bathroom floor. The player was 17 at the time.”

VO2 testing infamously involves testing air capacity and breathing efficiency while a player vigorously rides a stationary bike while wearing a breathing apparatus. It often leads to nausea and sometimes causes vomiting.

Pugerude was not a party to the latter complaints. The report says the WHL re-opened its investigation this week after getting more information on the two other alleged incidents.

Rob Simpson

Rob Simpson has covered the NHL in five different decades. He’s authored 4 books on hockey and is a veteran TV and radio play-by-play man and reporter.