Ask the Coach is a bi-weekly feature where Chilliwack Chiefs head coach Brian Maloney gives unfiltered answers to your questions.
Today’s query comes from Cameron Uthai, who’s noticed some…. inconsistency… with BCHL referees and wants to know how Maloney deals with the men in stripes.
Obviously I’m a believer that this is a development league where us coaches are learning, the players are learning and the officials are learning.
We sometimes look at our officials at all different levels and expect them to have every correct answer, see every single thing on the ice and have every detail down.
That’s not true, especially at this level. It’s a quick game with lots going on, so I don’t get worked up about much.
Where I do have a huge problem is with the communication level.
I understand there’s some crustiness between a referee and a coaching staff that’s probably built up from their minor hockey days — being verbally abused after every single call or non-call.
The younger refs stepping into this league are probably used to being yelled and screamed at, but that has to change.
There needs to be a respect factor on both sides.
Referees need to respect how coaches are managing 20 different personalities on the bench in a quick game.
And they have to have a thick skin, a little bit.
That being said, coaches have to have a little bit of respect as far as communicating with the referees.
If a referee comes to me, introduces himself to me, comes over with an explanation (of a call) and just flat out says, ‘This is what I saw,’ I usually am OK with it.
I don’t agree with it all the time, but if they’re explaining it back and forth — that’s what I was used to (playing) at the pro level. You just talked it out. The officials talked to the players on the ice, and typically, if you’re doing that you don’t get a lot of barking.
You get more respect for each other.
You see a lot of NHL guys talking with the linesmen and the officials and it goes a long way.
As a player, I was hard on officials.
I was an intense player. I was intense with my teammates, intense with my opponents and intense with the referees.
But that’s part of officiating is getting to know the players in the league.
If I’m an official and I see a kid who’s put his time in, works his butt off, is an honest player who blocks shots and is generally a good communicator — he barks at you one time I think you let him go because it’s out of character for him.
But there are some kids in our league that I would give a penalty to based on bad body language in general.
There are some arrogant, selfish kids in this league.
Some of these kids, I’d be handing out unsportsmanlike penalties as soon as I saw them. Those types of players, if they were to bark at me, I’d have a problem with them.
So I don’t blame our refs sometimes.
Wes McCauley is an official I had a good relationship with. He’s one of the best officials in the NHL now, but he was a guy coming up when I played.
All the referees you see in the NHL now are guys who worked my games in the American (Hockey) League.
I’ve hung up my skates and they’ve moved on.
It’s funny to see the guys who are in the NHL now because they’re all guys who communicated well on the ice.
They were stern and put their foot down, but they communicated really well.
There were a lot of bad refs who snapped early or couldn’t handle criticism and it’s funny, I don’t see those guys in the NHL.
Obviously there’s more to it in terms of skating well and seeing the ice and knowing the rulebook, but communicating is a huge part of it.
In the BCHL it’s tough because we do have a lot of younger refs and there are a lot of older coaches who are used to barking and getting their way, and sometimes these refs will bark back and it doesn’t go well.
I couldn’t care less what a referee’s experience level is.
Our first weekend this season up in Prince George, we had a great official who was 18 or 19 years old. He was communicating well with the benches and the players, so much so that I mentioned it to the BCHL’s Director of Officiating, Brad Lazarowich.
Whether a guy officiates at the Western Hockey League level or is learning in our league, I just want to see guys who call it how they see it, communicate well and make sure the body language — there’s enough self confidencewhere he’s not barking back but he’s not being taken advantage of.
Email Ask the Coach questions to eric.welsh@ theprogress.com