Brebant suggests penalty re-evaluation

Thursday, 27th November 2003

Manchester Phoenix head coach is calling on Elite League officials to consider re-evaluating the current penalty tariff for Roughing.

Last Saturday against Nottingham, his team suffered twice as first David Kozier and then Marc Thomas were penalised for 14 minutes apiece after roughing incidents with opposition Panthers players and Brebant feels the situation warrants some further thought.

“Physical contact is very much part and parcel of the game of hockey,” he noted adding, “to the point where occasionally players throw a few punches in the heat of the moment. Coaches don’t send guys out to fight, but things happen on the ice and sometimes the players dish out their own form of justice.”

“However,” he continued, “this season we’ve seen the officials resort to handing out 2+2 minute minors for Roughing accompanied by an additional 10-minute Misconduct penalty meaning the player misses almost a quarter of the game for one incident – that can’t be right – can it? And before I get accused of hiding behind excuses after a loss or being self-protectionist, the Panthers also lost guys to these heavy dues on Saturday.”

So what would Brebant suggest to the Elite League – simple, introduce the 5-minute major Fighting penalty as used in the National Hockey League. “It works fine in the NHL, so why not use it here?” poses Brebant. “In North America, the teams have greater bench depth and so if two guys go at it, the overall effect of losing them for five minutes apiece is not so dramatic as it is for us to lose a guy for 14 minutes… we just haven’t got the depth of roster to accommodate that kind of punishment.”

Brebant again refers to the NHL when he added, “And if someone fights twice in one game, they’re outta there. It’s simple, the players and coaches know exactly what is on the line in terms of punishment and the fans don’t get outraged at the officials who are only doing their job.”

Sympathy for officialdom is not easily given but Brebant expresses some for the guys in the middle. “The job they’re doing now brings them a lot of criticism when they are enforcing a decision that I and many of the coaches, and probably most of them, feel needs addressing, it’s not fair – on them or the players. I’m sure they would rather just bin guys for five minutes apiece without having to explain themselves night after night to aggrieved and upset coaches or fans.”

Brebant continued, “Sure, it’s up to me as the coach to do my best to keep the game clean and competitive, but let’s not overly spoil the spectacle. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not encouraging more fighting in hockey, but let’s be honest about it too, the fans enjoy a good dust-up every now and again, it helps sell tickets, and the five-minute major keeps the game honest as generally, only the heavyweights go at it – thus making for a cleaner, faster more entertaining game in the first instance.”