Observations From the Rink “Yelling and Knowledgable” Today’s Hockey Parents and Coaches

Do your f%$king job! Do your f%$king job! 

That’s what I heard Sunday morning at the rink during a Major Midget Semi Final Game. 

The coach was trying to protect his player after a knee-to-knee collision at the teams blue line.  A few players were standing close to the injured player, I’m not sure if words were exchanged, but the coach may have had a point to get the attention of the officials, but yelling like that was very inappropriate, in my opinion. Emotions run high, I know, I’ve played and coached the game.

The young linesmen were busy doing what they do after a stoppage and one referee was at the timekeeper, while the other one was in position over seeing the entire ice waiting for play to resume. 

Could they have been more proactive, probably, but who am I to judge that. I’m not an official. 

Did the coach have a point to yell and scream? 

There’s a big difference between yelling to get an officials attention to protect his player and probably what he thought was the integrity of the game. 

Now saying do your f%$king job five times at the top of your lungs during a stoppage like that was clearly inappropriate and has really no place in the game. 

To be honest, nothing really surprises me any more. 

I love the game and I love going to the rink, but it’s difficult to watch hockey sometimes when everyone around you is yelling and screaming. 

Is it ever going to end?  

The game has changed, but some aspects will never change and I’m afraid yelling and screaming at officials is one of them. 

It appears to be the one constant in the game and unfortunately it really doesn’t matter where you go, you can guarantee someone will be blasting the officials, opposing players and coaches. 

It’s rare these days to go to the rink and never hear it, but last weekend was another constant reminder of how bad some “hockey parents” and coaches can actually be!  

Clearly by writing this article, I’m probably going to ruffle some feathers, but seriously the yelling and screaming is getting really old and I would love to see it stop.

During my coaching days I would often look up in the stands and hear parents yelling at their own, yelling at others on their own team and the opposition, that kind of stuff really bothered me and obviously it still does. 

That type of behavior isn’t as bad at the Midget Major level, but it obviously still goes on.

During that time I knew it was getting really bad when I saw young girls and boys (siblings of the players) repeating exactly what they heard from the parents. 

It was just absurd.  

To be brutally honest I try to avoid everyone when I go to the rink, but that doesn’t mean I don’t see what’s going on. 

To hear the constant negativity directed towards referees is just downright ignorant in my opinion. 

I’m no stranger to the emotional side of hockey, but you can show emotion by being a knowledgeable parent, fan or coach. 

Instead of yelling at every penalty call even when obviously it’s a penalty, try yelling “ok let’s kill this off.” Nonetheless, the abuse still reins down throughout the rink!  

“Come on ref open your eyes”

“There’s two teams out there ref” 

The latter has to be my favorite, you know the game is getting out of hand when that one starts. I know you have probably have heard them all. 

I couldn’t believe my eyes this past weekend when two parents of one team came to the opposite end of the ice. I just knew what was next. 

You see yelling parents or I like to call them “ice level parents” know where to hide, they know exactly where to stand.  These two crazed hockey fathers were yellers and at one point one of them even hit the glass. 

I quickly got up and walked away and sat on the opposite side of the rink. 

It’s not much wonder hockey parents are known around the sports community as being just that “hockey parents.”    

A few weeks ago I was leaving the rink and was stopped by a couple of parents talking about the officiating. Trust me it wasn’t the greatest that night. The zebras were struggling because of a multitude of bad behaviour on both sides.

One of the fathers said ‘Craig you are shaking your head, do you disagree with what he’s saying about the officiating, what do you think’?

I looked at the parent and said, “I’m just here to scout players, not evaluate officials, safe travels guys and have a good night,” I continued down the stairs and outside. I see the missed calls, I see the cheap shots that are called that you may disagree with, I see it all, because I’m watching the game, but I’m not about to throw the officials to the curb. 

Referees are under tremendous scrutiny these days. Do their calls or miscalls effect the outcome of a game?

Yes, sometimes they do, there’s no question, but we have to understand why the game of hockey is struggling to find highly qualified officials nowadays. 

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure that out.

Ask yourself this question would you want to be yelled at constantly? 

Oh but Craig they are the only ones getting paid, they should be great at what they do!

So I’ll ask the question over again would you want to be yelled at constantly? Oh shit that’s a bad comparison, maybe ask your son or daughter how they feel to be yelled at all the time while they are at the rink, maybe then you will get your answer.

Can you imagine being the hockey parent of a young referee? I couldn’t imagine, try to imagine that drive home. Now that would be a great subject for an article. 

For the purpose of this article and being involved in the game all my life I have made my own classifications/categories for “hockey parents”.   I’m sure if you have been in a rink you will be familiar with some of my classifications.

The first classification and my next rant is about the “ice level parent.” 

 These parents  stand ice level and yell and scream, bang  on the glass and comment on every aspect of the game.  These are the parents that sometime confront refs and the opposition as they come off the ice.   Some of these people claimed to have played the game at a high level in their past, but don’t necessarily have the patience it takes to become coaches.

Another great example of the “over knowledgeable ice level parent.” 

They are always around to offer advice, motivation and of course criticism to their child while they come off between periods!  

Next up on the list of “ice level parent” is of course parents of the goaltenders.  They are usually quiet and try to blend in with the “over knowledgeable” so not to be seen by coaches, but are always there for that eye to eye contact with their puck stopper!  

It’s incredible that these “ice level parents” are constantly migrating to opposite ends of the rink for support of course never adding pressure to the most complex position on the ice.   

The second of my classifications can be found in separate rows much like any government assembly, the screaming “hockey moms” and the “stand alone brotherhood of the hockey dads.”  

Both parties claim to be more knowledgeable then the other and often communicate in a weird way to each other throughout the game.   The “hockey moms” are the sport psychologists and always know what every child on their team is thinking while the “brotherhood of the hockey dads” criticize everything that happens on the ice. 

Don’t believe me just watch the next time you go to the rink.

Nevertheless, there are the exceptions to the rule. Throughout the years many people have approached me asking what my parents were like as “hockey parents.”

 Well they were the complete opposite to everything written above actually.  My dad was a “stand alone hockey dad”who only cheered once or twice a game for the entire team and stood at the opposite end of the rink even away from our opposition’s fans.   

My mother sat in “hockey mom alley” but never would participate in yelling or screaming just a lot of movement actually.   

I almost compared it to my grandfather watching World Grand Prix Wrestling.  

She would move, duck and actually throw her shoulder into other “hockey moms” so by the end of a physical game my mother could be spotted in the stands of a jammed packed arena with a foot of space on each side of her.    

I never knew what my dad was thinking during the post-game drive home.  He was always so quiet at the rink and away from it!  

On the odd occasion he would just say you need to “hit the road” simply put, you need to do some dry-land to get stronger. 

I often wondered when I was a coach what was actually being said on the drive home from these classifications of “hockey parents” that yell and scream during games.   

Clearly hockey continues to have a massive problem with it’s off- ice antics and the over involvement of some parents and coaches alike.  

Where does the coach stand in all of this?  

What role if any does the coach have?  

Should the coach have control over their player’s parents?  

For the final few years of my coaching career during our introductory parent meeting, I really tried to incorporate the same belief system in the parents as in our players. 

I would always end the meeting by saying “be vocal but be positive.”  

It really serves no purpose in yelling at your son or daughter, and especially others on the team.  I would always emphasize, “we can only control what we can control”.    

I would always mention the word “class” and that I was going to try to teach that aspect of the game to the players and that I would need their help in that area as well.   

Far too many times the yelling and screaming from parent’s filters down to the coach and of course to the players.

 I truly believe we are on a slippery slope in this aspect of our amazing game. 

Unfortunately it’s casting an even darker shadow over a game full of its share of off – ice controversy.   

This former coach, writer, broadcaster and scout really hope it’s not too late and the yelling and screaming haven’t become bigger than the game. 

Oh and by the way yelling do your f%$king job, do your f%$king job, at the top of your lungs disrespects the game. 

The refs that game were trying to do their job to protect all the players on the ice and the integrity of the game. 

Did the coach do his f%$king job? 

Did he control his bench? 

Sure I was a coach, and I’m not going to lie, I raised my voice multiple times at officials over the years, but through it all I never disrespected the game. 

Here’s a blog I wrote during the 2012-2013 season discussing a few poorly officiated Bantam AAA Girls Games.

Good Morning, 

Well given our experience yesterday, one can never down play the importance of qualified officials.  We often forget that the officials are under constant scrutiny and when we question their calls they automatically assume it’s a personal attack on skill set.  

We may not always agree with their call of the game or may not see it the same way they do, and it usually drives coaches, players and parents crazy but we have to remember that to gain experience and knowledge of the game they have to put in that situation.   

Game in game out this year we have seen younger and younger officials, don’t get me wrong it is very challenging for coaches to keep our emotions in check when you clearly disagree with a call! 

 Case in point yesterday, those disallowed goals could have changed the complexion of the game.  4 games ago an official clearly made an incorrect call on a goal, we lost that game 2 to 1.  Those 2pts might come back and bite a team at the end of the season. 

The best piece of advice that I ever received was from a former coach, “You’re the player, I’m the coach, you play….I coach.

The same can be said about the officials unfortunately they do control the outcome of the game by their judgement. Nevertheless, the players and coaches also control the outcome of the game by their judgement.

 The challenge is not letting the officials dictate the behaviour of the players, and as coaches controlling the bench is a must in these situations, far too many players lose focus while the coaches are yelling and screaming at the refs.  An extra challenge must be made to the players, “looks like we have to play against the officials as well today, let’s focus on our brand of hockey”  I have often found that this approach helps!  But a little bit of adversity never hurts!

Yours in not yelling at the officials, Craig 

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