By B.D. Gallof
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In 2008, the Islanders drafted in the 2nd round a player many pegged to be a 1st round pick, from Etobicoke, Ontario, a forward named Corey Trivino.
Those who know Trivino back in Ontario speak of a calm, polite, mild-mannered and shy kid, someone willing to help others. Someone who, per his former mentor and coach David D’Ammizio: “Comes back every summer to work with the kids.”
Trivino moved on from his mentor, failing to be convinced to join juniors, to Boston University in 2009.
Just this week, Trivino, Boston University’s leading scorer, was charged stemming from an incident on Dec. 11 in which he allegedly forced his way into a female student’s dorm room. The resulting charges: three counts of indecent assault and battery, two counts of breaking and entering in the nighttime and one count of assault with attempt to rape.
Upon the incident, Trivino was consequently kicked off the BU hockey team, and then upon his arrest, thrown out of BU itself.
The story has found its way to major papers in Boston and beyond.
“It is devastating to have this happen. This is completely out of character for Corey,” D’Ammizio told me.
Others who knew Trivino before he headed to Boston University agree.
“It’s not the kid we knew. When he came to Stouffville, he was a wonderful kid and he was nothing but a tremendous asset to our community. He never had any incidents when he was in Stouffville,” Stouffville Spirit hockey team owner Zeev Werek told the Sun-Tribune earlier this week.
Boston University’s coach, Jack Parker, said that this was just the latest incident involving alcohol for Trivino, who was given an ultimatum based on a suspension last season stemming from another alcohol-fueled incident.
Actually, per a few people at BU, what allegedly happened last week was the fourth such incident.
But let’s move to the beginning of all this: the 2009 Boston University NCAA championship season. Trivino was a freshman, and playing on the third line of a strongly lead team. But after the Terriers won the title, many of those leaders fled early to the NHL.
Subsequently, the departures left a serious leadership gap. In fact, within the last few years, there has been an increase in player suspensions and team dismissals.
Matt Gilroy graduated. Colin Wilson bolted for Nashville. Brian Strait went to the Pittsburgh Penguins. Nick Bonino, Colby Cohen and Kevin Shattenkirk left a year later.
According to the book by Scott Weighart, “Burn The Boats: A Seven-Championship Season for Boston University Hockey,” the 2009 team was very self-policing.
Some have wondered if coach Parker took his foot off the gas a bit. Was there a dark side to winning with young contributors who then lose all that leadership almost immediately after? Did the coach let things lie far too long?
Meanwhile, Trivino, mild-mannered and kind as described, also had his own personal demons. He had a broken home with an Argentinean father who at the time of the divorce barely spoke English. His mother was now living with another woman raising him.
Whether this had any effect on the young man might be arguable in the present day of political correctness. However, for scouts, it was something that did weigh in on their estimates for the 2008 NHL Entry Draft.
Some felt he slipped out of the 1st round due to questions on character issues. Some felt he was emotionally unstable.
Per one former NHL scout: “I guess the lack of a father figure didn’t help. I’m no right-winger by any means, but it can’t be easy for an elite male athlete to be raised by lesbians. It’s just not the ‘normal’ way of doing things. And in my opinion the kid can’t help but be emotionally imbalanced and thus perhaps turning to substance abuse.”
A former BU player, who did not want to be named, said of the family dynamic: “Yeah, I heard of that as well. It was something he pretty much kept to himself and perhaps some close friends. It’s not like something you announce to the team or anything.”
Regardless of how the family situation affected Trivino, clearly there is an issue of living a bit too large in Boston post-2009.
Was Trivino unstable emotionally, leaving it bottled up until there was a bottle involved? Or was there an atmosphere of excess for someone away from home, an issue that impacts many who go to college?
According to former BU players on the 2009 team, partying was pretty tame before winning the championship, though they accede that right after winning, of course, it did get pretty boisterous.
However, wild drunken nights involving Trivino became BU urban lore within the last year or two. Many current BU students have added in the comment section to the local news and school blogs alleged Trivino stories: From being naked in the halls, to passing out with no memory of the night before; from knocking on friends door at 3 to 4 a.m., to the final act of knocking on a few doors before knocking on the accuser’s door, a resident assistant in the dorms.
Though BU coach Parker has offered strong words to it being his final chance that got screwed up, one has to wonder if Trivino was given far more rope to hang himself in lieu of the fact that his regular demeanor was so different than his alleged drunken one.
In the last two seasons, two players were kicked off the team for not going to class enough. Two others were dismissed for wild antics. In fact, Trivino’s ultimatum came at his own suspension, while both Victor and Vinny Saponari “displayed conduct unbecoming of a Boston University hockey player,” according to their coach.
For their part, the Islanders are being cautious in their approach to the Trivino saga.
“He could have been in a better situation. Unlike Junior teams, some colleges try to keep NHL team personnel away from players, so teams can’t always support as needed,” a source said.
Clearly, Boston University is such a place.
Let us not forget the poor victim. It’s alleged Trivino was taking to roaming the halls, and the situation was ripe for something to go afoul. According to his Facebook wall posts, Trivino had knocked on at least one female student’s door before heading to the victim.
This will likely present itself somehow when this lands in the court. The issue of safety and the fact that a 20-year-old was perpetually loaded on alcohol wandering the dorms in the early morning hours leaves a lot to be desired as far as Boston University is concerned.
Let’s also not absolve a hockey program that seemed to only get a handle on the situation far too late, and despite whatever ultimatum, was in a process of the clean-up of far more than just one player. Rumors are abound that another player might be on his way out due to poor grades.
Some questions and examination need to fall on the program, especially in the wake of winning a national title in 2009.
When this case eventually gets to the courts, I do believe the strong charge of attempted rape and even the multiple charges of assault will find their way reduced. But it is up to Trivino to finally buy-in to what most everyone is saying around him: something is wrong and he needs to get help.
This is not likely the end of Trivino’s hockey career story, though it will be if he does not submit to a very real need for counseling and rehab straight away. Whatever demons dance in the head of this 20-year-old need to be exorcised.
The Islanders are in “wait and see” mode, not making any official statement until things become clearer, but will likely also require those same things.
Another Islanders prospect, Casey Cizikas, has overcome very serious charges. Let us see what happens here.
Please offer your thoughts in the comments section below.