Eugene Binda,Officials Corner,USA Junior Hockey

Officials Corner: Talk to, not at, coaches during games

Over my many years officiating, there have been many times where a coach might lose his cool on the bench.

Sometimes, it was hard to figure out if he was yelling at his players, his assistants or me.

What I’m trying to say is there is a lot of emotion on the bench. Their emotions, sometimes from an official’s point of view, are always directed at the officials. This is not necessarily true.

When responding to a coach, I always approach them in the same manner I would want to be treated. That didn’t come overnight.

When I first started officiating, I always assumed that the coach was going to be argumentative over a call I just made. In reality, he might have just been asking a simple question. He might be asking whether the penalty was a major or minor, or whether it was a good goal or not, and if not, what did I see?

In the heat of a contest, our emotions and our judgment can get out of control. We need to slow everything down and listen to what is actually being said.

Some coaches start out riding the officials as soon the puck goes down, trying to get that competitive edge. They think this type of behavior works in baiting the officials to make a call in their favor.

You need to know how to separate what is being communicated to you from the bench.

We do want coaches to be able to express themselves, but not to the point they are trying to intimidate the officiating crew.

With that said, I’ll ask this. Coaches, with all the yelling, have you ever seen an official decline or take a penalty because you did not like it?

You, the official, need to draw that line early as an official. You were charged with keeping the game under control and that means limiting the verbal abuse and the emotion that sometimes comes from coaches who feel as though the officiating is the cause of their problems and not their players.

When emotions run high from the bench, many times that emotional energy finds itself extending to the surface of the ice.

When we don’t put a small fire out by dealing with the coach right away, we have another small fire on the ice. That could escalate into an inferno.

What separates good officials from great officials is their listening skills. Being able to correctly identify with the problems from a coaching perspective will help you in the long run.

When it becomes your time to respond to a problem on the ice, whether that would be in regards to a controversial goal or removing somebody from a game, you need to control the situation.

We, the officials, need to be the ones putting out the fires, not starting them. With good communication skill sets, your credibility will go a long way because you have taken the first step in listening, and then responding.

A reminder: It is awfully hard to listen when you’re speaking.

For those officials looking to advance or looking for additional training, feel free to reach out to me. There is no charge for the training – just a commitment to getting better.

For those officials who are currently USA Registered or Members of National Ice Hockey Officials (NIHOA) Association who are interested in advancing to the junior and collegiate levels, we have several midget and junior tournaments throughout the season. These will include secondary training on player safety, game management, and on-ice mechanics for all officiating systems.

After successful completion of the classes, you will be added to the staffs at the junior level to the United States Premier Hockey League and the Eastern Hockey League. These are the training leagues for the NCAA Division 1 Atlantic Hockey Association.

I will also add you to the staffs of College Hockey America, a NCAA Division 1 women’s league, and the following men’s leagues: the Division 2 Northeast-10 and the NCAA Division 3, the New England Hockey Conference, and the Massachusetts State Collegiate Athletic Conference.

For those interested please contact me at gene@refcrease.com. Trainings are all year long with classroom training at the Foxboro Arena and at the Atlantic Hockey Association office in Winthrop, Mass.