A melee involving a minor hockey player, an official and a coach has reignited the debate as to whether everyone involved in the sport should be forced to take an online course educating them about etiquette at the rink.
The incident, which occurred during a Winnipeg minor hockey game earlier this month, was captured on video and posted to YouTube.
In the video, a 12-year-old player is seen slashing another player in the back of the legs. When he tries to engage the player further, a referee gets in between the two players and tackles him to the ice. At that point, a coach jumps on the ice and tries to fight the ref before the two are eventually separated by the second official and a group of coaches.
The player who was tackled ended up suffering a broken arm as a result of the play and police are now investigating the brawl.
During the incident parents in the stands can be heard yelling obscenities.
Speaking on the condition of anonymity, parents of hockey players within Hockey Brandon weighed in on the video and the prospect of taking a course about acceptable behaviours at the rink.
"It’s a few bad eggs spoiling the basket," one parent said. "There are thousands of minor hockey games each year without incident. Now and again, something like this happens and everyone gets overworked about the whole thing."
Another parent who saw the video laid blame with the 12-year-old hockey player and his parents.
"If you see the complete video, like from the start, the kid takes a swing at the ref, then he skates up ice and hacks another player — what’s the ref going to do?" he said. "Instead of hollering at the ref and looking stupid, (the parents) should teach the players about the values and respect of the game."
The same parent said he would support minor hockey instituting a rule that made everyone take the Respect in Sport parent program.
The online course is designed to teach and reinforce parents’ roles in their children’s sport by "encouraging positive sport behaviour, and providing insight into the various roles other individuals play, such as coaches and officials."
Two other parents, however, viewed the course, which typically costs $30, as a "cash cow."
One Western Hockey League scout said the problem boils down to the fact that many parents have unrealistic expectations for their children.
"The biggest problem is most parents think their kid is going to play in the NHL someday," he said. "If they could move past this thought that the game owes them something, then it would be so much more beneficial for their son or daughter who is playing."
Since 1920, 375 Manitoba-born players have gone on to play in the National Hockey League, according to HockeyDB.
Of those, less than 200 played more than a full season’s worth of games (82) and only 87 played in more than 400 games, qualifying them for a pension under the league’s current CBA.
"(Playing the game) isn’t supposed to be about making the NHL, most players will never make the NHL, it’s supposed to be about the life lessons that are taught by playing a team sport," he said.
"Things like teamwork. Things like being unselfish. Things like learning how to win and to lose. Those are the things that help shape people’s personalities and help grow them into healthy, productive people."
» Twitter: @CharlesTweed