Simmsy column: Let’s see some respect for players and officials in ice hockey

Injured David Rutherford is stretchered off. Pic Dean Woolley
Injured David Rutherford is stretchered off. Pic Dean Woolley

Steelers supporters showed the upmost respect last Sunday as a medical team ensured that Belfast forward David Rutherford received the best possible treatment after incidents with Steelers players Hagos and Desbiens.

With all due respect to the Giants player, what a great pity he didn’t have the same standards when laying out a blind-sided hit on Hagos moments before Desbiens wrestled him to the ground. I haven’t seen such a cheap and gutless play since Brad Both assaulted Ashley Tait years ago.

Now lets get the disclaimers out of the way first. Not one single person wants to see another player injured and if Rutherford did sustain any injuries then that is unfortunate - but if we are being honest, all of his own doing.

A delayed penalty against Steelers as Colton Fretter was about to be dismissed to the penalty box – an advantage to the Giants – yet on an innocent play Rutherford felt it necessary to hit a player in the head that wasn’t even faced in his direction – gutless and wrong. That hit could end careers. He assaulted a fellow professional. Shame on him.

In my 51 years I have experienced many different professions, sports, jobs and never come across anything like hockey for codes and respect between the players. Rutherford crossed the line and in doing so lost the respect of his peers and those who watch the game.

As I type this I don’t know if Hagos will be back soon or out injured for weeks.

On the same weekend another incident took place in Manchester with a linesmen being manhandled. The second time this season that has happened. Again, completely wrong. Who do I blame for this? Well actually the officials. When the first incident happened in Cardiff the ref failed to report the incident by way of either issuing a penalty or reporting the event post-game – he didn’t think it was serious enough. If the Braehead Clan player in question isn’t punished by the league then referees and linesmen should tie up their chin straps.

My understanding is that on Saturday the referee in Manchester, Tom Darnell, didn’t see the incident. When he did later that night on social media, of all things, only then did it become an issue. Referees can’t see everything, linesmen are there for a reason, they need to feel safe and surely should issue precise details of incidents they see that the man in charge doesn’t. Darnell was left high and dry by his linesmen.

Referee’s don’t call match penalties anymore. Why? 1: They want to be everyone’s friend. The linesman manhandled on Saturday even apologised to the player in question! And 2: They feel by giving a game misconduct they know that the matter will be looked at by the league’s disciplinary body DOPS. Thus washing their hands of the incident.

I’ve been a long time supporter of officials, but sometimes they create more problems than they solve. They are the men in charge on the night. They have to take responsibility. I hope this latest incident in Manchester will at long last see the league stand up for the officials safety but after that it is up to them to ensure when incidents like this happen they are dealt with strongly on the evening by the people paid to make the decisions and not palmed off to a disciplinary committee.

The moral of this article is respect. Respect your fellow professionals...and the officials.