are many people in hockey who feel that if a player or coach doesn’t
yell at a referee at least once during a game, then the referee must be
doing a bad job! After all,
every referee understands even before beginning a game that he will
usually have 50% of the people upset with most of the calls he makes in
any game. Furthermore, at the
end of every game, the losing side often lays part of the blame for the
loss on several calls made by the referee. This is not a criticism of the
game. It is merely a fact of hockey which must be accepted as part of
the heat of battle, coaches, players and officials do not always see eye
to eye. How’s that for a profound statement?
The referee is always trying to be fair, but any coach who has just
received a penalty from this official seems to think otherwise.
Referees are human. This is something that many coaches, players
and fans seem to forget. What they also forget is that referees have
feelings. So when a coach is screaming at a referee in disagreement over
one of his decisions, imagine how it must feel to be publicly centred out
in front of all of the fans and players. Imagine how it must feel to have
your authority questioned by someone who is usually older and who
supposedly knows a lot about the game of hockey. To a young referee who is
trying his best to develop his officiating skills, this is terribly
upsetting and at best, unnerving.
person is different and so is every official. Some officials will just let
the coach yell and scream till he turns blue in the face and some
officials will assess a bench minor penalty at the first peep out of the
coach’s mouth. Many coaches treat this as part of their game strategy.
They work the referee and pride themselves on how far they can push
without getting a penalty. The common belief is that if you stay on the
referee early in the game, you may get some calls going your way later on.
drives coaches around the bend is that some referees may allow a coach to
get away with screaming at him for a few games and then the next game,
give out a bench minor for a simple comment or gesture.
Once again, referees are human and from time to time they have bad
days at work or arguments with their friends and/or partners. Don’t be
surprised if a referee has a short fuse from time to time.
Furthermore, as the season progresses and the referees are getting
verbally abused game in and game out, it takes its toll on these people
and their fuses may start to get shorter and shorter. The message is clear
– if you play with fire, don’t be surprised if you get burned.
are always told that they are to take a ‘Zero Tolerance’ approach to
abuse from coaches and players and that this will gain their respect and
make your games go smoothly. However,
the exact opposite has happened from time to time.
A referee may give a bench minor at the first outburst by the
coach. This is fine and it is
what he has been told to do, but the referee must still find a way to
communicate with the coach. Some referees
refuse to speak to the coach or captain which makes the coach even more
infuriated and eventually results in problems later on in the game.
Tolerance” does not mean “Zero Communication”. It is still important
that effective communication be established between the coach and players,
and the officials. It is only when this communication becomes verbally
insulting or unprofessional that the ‘Zero Tolerance’ should be
adopted and appropriate penalties assessed.
is a fine line between communicating to a coach in a civilized manner and
not communicating to the coach at all.
Referees must learn through experience when to assess a coach a
penalty and when to talk to the captain or coach.
Just like coaches must learn through experience how far they can
push the referee before he will assess?
COACHES WHO YELL
problems with having coaches or players yelling at the officials is that
this also tends to cause the other coaches, players and fans to get going
as well. At some point the
referee now has half of the arena yelling at him.
The players start to feed off of their teammates, coaches and fans
and they start to play rougher and dirtier giving the referee no choice
but to assess another penalty against that team.
It is a vicious cycle that usually is not completed until the final
buzzer of the game sounds.
is the very reason why it is better for the referee to address the problem
of a coach or player yelling at him by either communicating in a
respectful manner, or, failing that, by assessing an appropriate penalty.
The way a referee can communicate with the
crowd is by calling the police! And
don’t think that it won’t happen if the fans start to get out of hand.
It has happened before and will happen again! Especially if the
fans continue to abuse young officials the way they currently are.
Bringing in the police is something that no
one wants to see. However, some fans can be threatening, and a referee has
no way of knowing if the person causing the problems is merely letting off
steam or if he is a lunatic who could pose a physical danger to the
officiating staff. In either case, the abusive fan definitely has a
negative impact on the game and if allowed to continue will affect the
manner in which the players conduct themselves on the ice.
have a few communication techniques available to them that are utilized
during the course of a game. We will consider a few of them below:
The referee may let the coach yell for a few seconds but no more.
the referee will let a coach yell at him for a few seconds, as long as the
coach chooses his words carefully. If
the coach yells about a situation that just happened and does not direct
it at the referee by calling him names or pointing at the referee saying
things like “It’s your fault my player is hurt!”, then the referee
may not assess a penalty as long as the coach does not make a big scene of
it. Officials who have played
the game are well aware of the emotions involved and usually give a bit of
leeway in order to allow a coach to cool down.
The referee may get close to the bench so that the coach can express his
heartfelt feelings towards the referee in a manner whereby the rest of the
arena does not have to hear it.
is considered a very risky move that could erupt into a nasty scene. As the referee, you try to get as close to the bench as
possible so that the coach can scream in your ear at a sound level that
won’t let the rest of the people in the arena hear him.
The referee must now gain his composure and bite his tongue so that
he does not say anything. When
the coach has rambled on for a few seconds the referee may look at him and
say something like, “Okay, that’s enough!”
It is at this point that the coach should realize he has pushed the
referee as far as he can and it is time to zip his/her mouth or else a
Bench Minor penalty may be in the not so distant future.
will find for the most part that unless the coach has embarrassed, showed
up or centered out the referee he will not be assessed a penalty.
key to this technique is the ability of the referee to take what the coach
is saying without getting into an argument that only adds fuel to the
fire. By remaining calm and allowing the coach to have his say (even if
the coach knows that the referee will not change his mind) the referee
will be demonstrating that he is mature enough to listen – up to a
certain point – and most coaches like to take the matter to that point.
The referee may wait until a coach has calmed down by waiting a few
whistles before he will go over and talk to the coach.
the coach will be flaring his arms in the air and screaming that he wants
the referee to come over to the bench so that he can talk to him.
If you were the referee, would you go over and talk to a coach who
has just been screaming and yelling at you?
Not likely. So
referees like to let the play continue for a couple of whistles before
they will go over and talk to the coach.
This allows the coach about one or two minutes to calm down and
allows a reasonably civil conversation to take place between the referee
and the coach.
The referee may ask for a Captain or Assistant Captain to relay the
message to the coach.
referee will always try to maintain the flow of the game, so continually
going over to the players’ bench and talking to the coach slows the pace
of the game down.
referees will often use the option of having the Captain or Alternate
Captain(s) relay a message to the coach.
This way the referee does not have to get into a long conversation
with the coach. It is simply
a message sent to the coach like “Keep your voice down or you are going
to get a bench minor penalty.” Or “There was no hook on the play
because your player was holding the stick of the guy you wanted a penalty
The referee may just ignore the coach or player entirely.
may either work for the referee or backfire.
The way it works is that the coach will get tired of yelling or
arguing to himself and just stop on his own.
The way it backfires is that the coach will continue to get louder
and louder not realizing that the referee is just ignoring him and not
that he can’t hear him. Sooner
or later the coach gets too loud and he can no longer be ignored.
This is where a penalty is usually assessed.
a referee and coach show each other respect right from the moment they
arrive at the arena, then a good communication bond has already been
developed that will allow the game to flow smoothly.
there is a flip side to this coin. If
a coach does not show the referee respect, for instance trying to talk
louder than the referee when he is trying to explain a rule or situation
to him, then the referee may tend to not show respect back by simply not
communicating with this coach until he decides to show respect. The more
that a coach and referee learn each other’s personality types, the
easier the communication barrier will be broken and the hockey game will
flow smoothly with communication turning into an asset rather than a
using Captains and Alternate Captains
referees like to relay messages to the coaches through the use of the
Captains and Assistant Captains, it is a fair question if a coach asks
when can it is appropriate
for one of the Captains or
Assistant Captains to the referee?
of all, the rule states that any player, including the Captain or
Assistant Captain, who leaves his players’ bench to discuss any
interpretation of the rules with the Referee is subject to a minor
penalty. This rule is pretty self-explanatory.
A player is not allowed to come off of his players’ bench to
discuss anything with the referee. So what happens if a player does come off the players’
bench and tries to ask a question like “My coach wants to know why you
didn’t call that slash that happened against our #12?”
of all, most referees will only let the player get the words “My
coach……” out of the player’s mouth. The player will then likely be
interrupted by the referee who will respond with, “Next stoppage of play
you can ask me your question, not now.
Go line up.”
is because the referee is not permitted to talk to the player for the
simple fact that the rules try to keep the game flowing as smoothly as
possible. Allowing players to come off the bench and ask questions to
the referee would slow down play considerably.
are probably wondering, “Well what is the difference if he asks you now
or after the next whistle?”
answer is that while the player is asking his question after the next
whistle, the referee will be conducting his line change procedure.
So by the time he asks his question and receives an answer, the
players are almost ready to start play again and there will be no delay in
here is where the penalties may occur. You are now aware that no player is
allowed to come off the bench to ask a question to the referee.
If the player stays on the ice then this is perfectly legal. But, if the player goes back to the bench,
then there will be a minor penalty for “Delay of Game” assessed
to the player who tried to ask the question.
This is because the player’s prime reason for stepping on the ice
was to ask a question to the referee and then go back and sit on the
players’ bench. In doing
so, it delays the game and thus a penalty may be assessed.
do not like to enforce this rule, so usually the player will not be
allowed to go off the ice. The referee will force him to remain on the ice
and have the coach remove another player. By doing this, the referee no
longer has to assess the penalty because the player never got to ask the
referee his question, and furthermore he remained on the ice.
who know this rule and try to bend it will not argue with the referee if
the referee makes this player who just tried to ask a question stay on the
ice. If the coach says that
he doesn’t want this player on the ice, the referee simply says, “If
he goes off the ice, your team will receive a minor penalty for Delay of
Game.” The coach at this time will usually make the player stay on
the ice and thus avoid taking the penalty.