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Canadian Press
Dec 19, 2006, 3:44 PM EST


SAINT JOHN, N.B. (CP) - The commissioner of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League will decide soon whether to take any action against the coach of the Saint John Sea Dogs for cutting a player who failed to sign a Canadian flag sent to troops in Afghanistan.

A spokesman for the league said Tuesday league commissioner Gilles Courteau will make a statement on Wednesday at the latest about the decision to release left-winger Dave Bouchard from the team after he did not sign the flag.

Bouchard will be either released or traded, but the reason for his split with the team is still under review: Was it play or politics that caused his ouster?

Earlier this week, Sea Dogs coach and general manager Jacques Beaulieu expressed outrage over the missing signature, citing it as a major factor in the player's dismissal.

However, team management said the decision was based on Bouchard's lack of leadership and defensive ability.

For his part, Bouchard has said the flag flap was all a misunderstanding. He said he thought another player had signed for him and he apologized to the coach for the mistake.

Bouchard said not signing the flag was, in fact, the main reason for his release.

"The biggest thing was the flag, and the other thing was my work ethic and things like that," Bouchard said. "It's not just one thing."

Bouchard also said he doesn't oppose Canada's military presence in Afghanistan.

"I support the troops, for sure," said the native of Jonquiere, Que. "I don't know anything about politics, but I think those guys and girls have a lot of heart.

"I didn't want to disrespect those people and (other) people of Canada."

David Turk, the Sea Dogs executive director, said the team has received a lot of negative reaction, and a lot of support as well.

"We're not trying to make a statement on Afghanistan," Turk said. "And (Bouchard's) release from the club had nothing to do with the flag issue."

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