Hockey Montreal hopes refs' green armbands will cut down unnecessary roughness from parents
Parents screaming at referees are an all-too-common sight in Canada but Hockey Montreal is taking steps to prevent that kind of ugliness from disturbing the kids on the ice.
The organization has begun giving referees who are under the age of 18 green armbands to wear in the hopes that it will cut down on verbal abuse.
“We want to make sure the parents realize who’s on the ice,” said Hockey Montreal Head Referee Emmanuel-Yvan Ofoe.
The initiative goes beyond just trying to keep order in the stands as parents watch their little ones play.
“(We want) coaches to realize that the person that they’re talking to is in charge of the rules on the ice,” said Ofoe. “He’s a kid, a teenager.”
Ofoe points to similar ideas in amateur baseball and in other hockey leagues. The green armband is meant to signify that the ref is in the early stages of their career.
“It helps us to be more comfortable when a coach talks with us,” said referee Charles-Olivier Morin.
Ofoe said unruly parents have become a recurring issue for young refs.
“Every weekend we have stories about situations that happened where parents are screaming at referees about rules that too often they don’t understand themselves,” he said.
Parent Rob Shields said that since the armbands made their debut, he’s seen a change.
“It’s a great remind to the parents that they’re kids,” he said. “They’re not professional NHL referees. “I have noticed with the green armbands there’s a lot less aggravation in the stands, there’s a lot less frustration.”