Federal Hockey League referees will not be returning to duty after a team owner confronted officials during Sunday’s game. The league’s referee-in-chief has pulled the officials off all remaining FHL games.
As reported previously, Elmira Enforcers team owner Robbie Nichols attacked the two referees after the first period, blocking their exit from the ice and shoving one of the referees. The referees left the ice and opted to cancel the game as a result of the altercation.
On Monday, the FHL’s referee-in-chief Eugene Binda stood by his officials.
“I have been with the FHL since its inaugural season and have battled with the league on multiple occasions on the safety of the officiating staff,” wrote Binda in an email to league officials. “Today was the last straw. I cannot in good conscience continue in my role as the supervisor of officials and in the future have one of you seriously injured by a player or team administrator.”
Binda goes on to call the incident “an absolute disgrace,” adding “I would not be able to forgive myself if one of you were hurt under my watch!”
No statement has been made by the Federal Hockey League regarding the situation.
Bus League Hockey spoke with a league source, who defended Binda’s decision.
“[The Supervisor] made a smart call, to protect his staff and send a message that this isn’t OK,” our source said of the decision. “So there is a big problem come next weekend. It wasn’t always like this, but if management doesn’t demand coaches respect officials, and coaches don’t demand that their players respect officials, you will have the chaos that erupted today.”
The FHL returns to action on Friday, with three games on the schedule.
No word on if they’ll have any officials to work them.