Kryzystof Oliwa is the Owner, General Manager, and Head Coach of the Kalkaska Rhinos. The Rhinos are a junior hockey team that competes in the USPHL Premier, that is until yesterday. According to TheJuniorHockeyNews.com, the team has folded. Folding midseason is terrible as many players will now be unable to join a new team for the rest of the season, as the transfer period has ended.
Oliwa is popular among Polish American and Canadian fans as he is only one of two Polish players to ever play in the NHL. He is also the only Polish-born player to the win the Stanley Cup. Oliwa was an enforcer and the earned the nickname, “The Polish Hammer”. Most in North America don’t about know him being charged with domestic abuse, him reportedly beating up members of the Polish national team, his dismissal from his coaching job with the national team after players complaints, and his disturbing CIHL suspension.
When you look at his history, I actually have to ask how could a league could actually let him have a team. The Rhinos did not field a full roster in either of the last two seasons. The organization is a mess. The Rhinos were originally in the Canadian International Hockey League but left to be an independent team. After Oliwa announced the Rhinos were leaving, he was indefinitely suspended for altercations with a referee and rival team staff member. He also refused to pull an injured goalie and did not allow the CIHL medical staff to tend to him.
One of the players who played for Oliwa was Tomasz Skokan. Skokan is a defenseman on the Polish national team. He played parts of three seasons putting up 50 points in 50 games. He recently returned to Poland, signing with GKS Katowice. When asked for a comment about the team or coach, Skokan replied “I am very thankful to coach Oliwa. I think he was a demanding coach but I am sure he has never had any bad intentions towards his players. He is a great person as well as a coach. He knew how to inspire his team to get them above their dreams and never give up. Coach Oliwa has helped me a lot in developing my skills and I’m really glad that I had an opportunity to cooperate with him and be part of his team”
Another Rhino’s player who chose to remain anonymous said, “Oliwa was fake. He lied to players, families, and everyone. I never had a coach like him. A coach must be the best friend, must be like a dad for his players, he was none of that for us.” He also confirmed the team didn’t have a full roster, “We would play with a max of 12 players versus 20 to 25 guys.” When asked if Oliwa ever physically harmed players, the player responded Yes, but did not provide further details.
We have reached out to former Rhinos players and will update with quotes.
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