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Posted - 01/24/2005 :  17:43:29  Show Profile
Contributed by: Raphael Borenstein

Look back in the archives and you will find an article I wrote citing regrets I had about the way I treated referees while I was behind the bench. Well, I am back behind the bench this season and I would like to retract my previous comments and say that my original sentiments were most likely accurate and the referees probably deserved it!

Having spent a few seasons wearing the stripes has made me more understanding about what a difficult job the refs have, and it has made me more forgiving of human error, but it has also made my expectations much higher of other refs when I am behind the bench.

My biggest problem with referees is when they don’t understand that the game is not about them. Whether it is peewee in-house or midget AAA, the job of the referee is to enforce the rules when players illegally take away scoring chances, act recklessly or dangerously, or try to hurt other players. Other then that, the ref should be invisible and not have an impact on the flow or the outcome of the game.

Part of the problem is that a lot referees got to where they are through the referee system and have never played the game at a high level. This is never more apparent than in a Bantam or Midget tier game where you will regularly have 20-25 penalties called, when realistically there should have only been 10-12. Unless you have experienced what goes on in a game at that level, you don’t ever really understand it from just watching.

The other and much worse problem is that some referees immerse themselves into the game. They take things personally, and get off on asserting their authority. They feel they have to right the wrongs, “teach lessons”, and punish players beyond calling penalties. They need to make their presence felt by showing players and coaches that they have the ultimate authority and you better not cross their line. Fans and parents who watch hockey always keep an eye on the referee, but too many refs misconstrue that to mean that they came out to see them ref.

Here is a perfect example: 1-1 tie Midget AA hockey game, my player is battling for a loose puck on the boards and gets knocked down on the puck, so he stays down on top of the puck to get a whistle and takes a couple of cross checks in the back for his troubles. Referee calls a delay of game penalty. I told him that he can’t make a call like that when my player got knocked down. He says that the player could have made more of an effort to move the puck and it is his (the refs) responsibility to teach these kids what is right and wrong in the game. (remember…these are Midget AA players that he thinks he has to teach). About 45 seconds later while killing this ridiculous penalty, my player inadvertently high sticks a player and the referee has to make the call. It’s the right call, but now because he had to “teach” and made an unnecessary call, I am down 5 on 3 and get scored upon. This is a clear example of giving one team and unfair advantage and making a direct impact on the game.

More examples: I was having a tough game with a referee and was vocal about a blatant non-call when one of my players was pitch-forked down to the ice. I asked the referee sarcastically if he would have made the call if it was my player who had committed the foul. He turned said yes since he was tired of hearing me complain. In another game, one of my players threw his arms up in the air and exclaimed “Are you kidding me?!?!” when he was given a boarding penalty. The referee warned him that another outburst was going to “cost him”. The hit was clean - the player was coming around the back of the net, had his head up, and saw my player coming. It was an extremely hard hit right in the chest that sent the player flying backwards into the end boards. I asked the referee how it could be boarding when the player was hit from the front. His explanation was that sometimes a clean hit could be a penalty. (Huh?...What?) Anyway, that same player (the one who was penalized) was involved in a minor skirmish (pushing and shoving) with about 4 minutes remaining in the 3rd period of that game which we were winning 1-0. The referee gave my player 16 minutes of penalties (3 minors and a 10 minute misconduct) and the other team’s player got just a minor penalty . Not only did we have to play shorthanded for the remainder of the game (we won 1-0) but my player had to sit a 1-game suspension for accumulating 5 penalties in one game.

So the next time you hear me call to the ref and tell him that I sincerely feel the water bottles on my bench have better judgment then he does….…..Trust me, he probably deserved it.

Have an opinion on Raphael's article? Let us know. Just hit reply below and post your thoughts. Anything goes...but keep it clean.
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2330 Posts

Posted - 04/15/2005 :  10:22:03  Show Profile
Elliot asked me to post this on his behalf...

Elliot wrote:
“I'm a bit surprised that the author has reffed since he doesn't seem to know that boarding can be committed from any angle, including the front. It is defined as projecting the player violently into the boards. Perhaps he is confusing it with checking from behind, which of course would require a check to come from behind (duh).

As a ref, I would say that clearly there are going to be misjudgements. They're inevitable. As a local rink near us says, if you were a perfect ref you'd be reffing the NHL (whenever it reappears). Again, the author seems to feel that refs need to be perfect while he, as a role model, and his kids are allowed to mouth off, complain, and otherwise try to circumvent the rules. How strictly we call the games will depend on the circumstances: a travel Midget game has got to be called a lot looser than a house squirt game. And the calls need to be consistent.

But a coach who allows his kids to mouth off and otherwise ignore the rules should not be surprised if his team receives an inordinate share of penalties. “
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Top Prospect

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Posted - 04/19/2005 :  08:50:46  Show Profile
Trust me, I know the definition of boarding. I was trying not to bore the readers with the full blown play by play, but believe me when I say it wasn't boarding. Just for the record, you will have a hard time trying to ever find a good ref make a boarding call on a player who makes a clean hit with the shoulder in the chest of a puck carrier, regardless of how hard they hit the boards....C'mon, this is hockey.

Secondly, the point I was making was not about refs getting every call perfect, it was about attitudes and personal involvement in the games. My team was the least penalized Midget AA team out of 11 teams and only had 1 fighting major in over 40 games. My players are disciplined and dont abuse or disrespect refs, but when a player is wrongfully trageted by a ref, I will defend him vehemntly.

The reffing out here is brutal and so inconsistent it makes me ill. It is not up to par with the level of play and the refs try to mask that by having a high and mighty, above the law, F*** you attitude.
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