UPDATED, APRIL 21, 2009:
At the conclusion of a month-long investigation by Medfield school officials, George Maris received a written reprimand on February 22, 2008 for actions the administration deemed inappropriate and using "bad judgment," with the varsity boys' hockey team.
Maris did not return to the bench in 2008: the regular season had been completed by late February, and Medfield, with a losing record, did not qualify for the state tournament. He chose not to re-apply for the position.
"We didn't have the same coaching philosophies about coaching high school kids," said the 50-year-old Maris, who maintains that there was no negligence involved and that players' safety was never compromised. "I let kids be themselves, I let them do what they want, within reason. Most kids have common sense, and I think that you get more out of a student-athlete that way, than being a drill sergeant."
The Montreal native had previously served as an assistant boys' hockey coach at North Smithfield (R.I.) and Cranston East (R.I.) high schools, where those teams won state titles and sportsmanship awards. He was also the varsity boys' hockey coach at Foxborough High for the 2006-2007 season in a two-decade plus coaching career.
Maris is currently the head coach of the Rhode Island-based Canadian Hockey Club U-19 Midget team that plays its games at New England Sports Center in Marlborough and in Minnesota. His goal remains the same: coach at the high school or college level.
-- Craig Larson
Medfield High first-year varsity boys' hockey coach George Maris has been placed on paid administrative leave until "concerns and rumors" surrounding the program are addressed, according to School Superintendent Robert Maguire.
High school principal Judith Noble held meetings with players and parents on Friday to announce the decision.
"There's a whole series of things that have been brought to our attention," Maguire said on Monday. "This will give the principal time to look into the issues and determine what's substantiated and what's not."
He declined to be more specific.
"It would be inappropriate to comment on the nature of the rumors before the principal gets to the bottom of it," he said. "In case anybody's mind is running, it's our understanding that there's nothing we're dealing with that's criminal in nature."
In Maris' absence, assistants Toby Carlow and Tony Iafolla will direct the Warriors (2-9-1 overall), who are currently the last-place team in the Tri-Valley League. Carlow played at the University of Massachusetts at Boston, while Iafolla is a Medfield alum who graduated in 1999.
The two were on the bench on Saturday night, when Medfield registered its second win of the year, an 8-4 thrashing of Dover-Sherborn.
"I feel very confident in who we're leaving the kids to," said Medfield High athletic director Jon Kirby. "Toby's done a real good job and Tony's known these guys for a long time."
Maris replaced John Panciocco, who stepped down after guiding the Medfield program for eight seasons, including a pair of league titles.
-- Matt Porter