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Trends Within Missouri Hockey

Date: 1/14/2024

To: Members of Missouri Hockey, Inc.

RE: On and Off-Ice Behavior

As we enter the new year and the heart of the hockey season, we have seen a few trends within our affiliate that I'd like to highlight in this message.  First, the growth of hockey in Missouri and Southern Illinois is stronger than ever. Our membership numbers are higher than they have ever been.  The number of hockey games being played is also at the highest in our history.   We want those trends to continue.

Unfortunately, we are also seeing some disturbing trends in both on-ice and off-ice behavior.

On the ice, our affiliate has seen more match penalties this season than ever before.  In fact, we already have more match penalties as of January 13, than we had all of last season.  Many of these match penalties are being called for abuse of officials and many others called for using harmful and discriminatory language towards other competitors.  Both behaviors are unacceptable.  Players and coaches who engage in such actions are subject to long suspensions as doled out by our Rules & Discipline Committee.  I am hopeful that the number and frequency of these infractions declines significantly during the remainder of the season and I ask that our families, parents, and coaches have discussions with our participants to help emphasize sportsmanship within our affiliate.

More disturbing than the number of match penalties is the behavior of coaches and spectators off the ice.  We have seen too many reports this year involving abuse of officials and violations of USA Hockey's Zero Tolerance Policy.

Officials are not perfect. They make mistakes.  Those mistakes, much like a player's errant pass, or a goaltender leaving a rebound uncovered, can and do impact the outcome of games.  But mistakes are part of the game. Much like with the mistakes for players, mistakes by officials can create learning opportunities for the officials to improve.  As a coach, I've personally been critical of officials in the past.  There is a line, however, between being critical and being abusive.  The Zero Tolerance Policy was enacted to make sure that line is not crossed.  Using obscene, abusive, or threatening language towards the official is not acceptable at any time.  Making physical contact or threatening physical contact to an official or another spectator is unacceptable.

Based on some of the incidents that occurred over the course of last season and the prior season, in April of last year, the Missouri Hockey Board passed some enhancements to the USA Hockey Zero Tolerance policy to help protect our on-ice officials.  Those can be found here: Additions to USA Hockey Zero Tolerance Policy.

Unfortunately, we have had too many opportunities to invoke this new policy during the course of this season.  Our disciplinary committees will continue to pursue any reports of behavior that makes our on-ice officials feel threatened or un-safe.

There are better ways to voice your concern about an official than to act out in an aggressive or abusive manner at the rink.  If you have an issue with an official, our local officials' association, MIHOA, has a committee to address complaints towards officials.  You can fill out a form on-line to make a complaint at MIHOA Complaints.

All of us have a vested interest in being better with regard to how we treat officials, other athletes and spectators.  The exciting growth in the number of participants and the number of games within Missouri Hockey is only sustainable if we grow the number of on-ice officials to support the increased number of games being played.  Without an increase in on-ice officials, games will end up being cancelled or we will be forced to put restrictions on the number of games being played.  This year MIHOA and our affiliate registered more than 200 new level 1 officials - the most in our history.  We need to keep as many of these new officials as possible in the game.  We anticipate that more than 11,000 games will be played within Missouri Hockey this season.  Unfortunately, the constant abuse of officials and the numerous violations of USA Hockey's Zero Tolerance Policy has led to many seasoned and young officials quitting.

We can and must do better.

Chris Durso

President

Missouri Hockey, Inc.

The penalty for using language that is hateful or discriminatory has been increased to a match penalty under a directive issued by USAH President Jim Smith.  Read the entire statement by clicking the link above

USA Hockey Safe Sport Program Update 2019

Communication From USAH in regards to the overhaul of the SafeSport Program