Morning After the Night Before For EIHL and Cardiff Devils

The verdicts are in in the Cardiff Devils, Coventry Blaze, Benn Olson, Devin Didiomete, Max Birbarer, Neil Francis, Cardiff Devils Fan, love in from Sunday Night.  Between them they amassed 16 games worth of penalties whilst the fan that pushed Coventry’s Benn Olson is banned for a season from any Cardiff Devils games. And those didn’t see it check it these videos.

 

This melee was followed by the incident with the fan.

 

Fans have been discussing the whole incident at some length in the forums and social networks. Many Cardiff fans feeling aggrieved that Olson has gotten off scot free for his part in the melee during the handshakes and the incident with the fan on his way back to the dressing room. However unlike his Devils opposites in Didiomete and Birbarer, Olson never left the ice during the chaos to come back on and that is why the Devils pair have been given such lengthy bans. Olson meanwhile was cleared of wrong doing after a fan jumped through security and pushed the Blaze hard man.

Whether the league’s decision is right or wrong can be debated for sometime and will but does the incident not raise questions around ice hockey’s fan base and whether or not rinks in the UK can cope with it.

Wayne Simmonds During Liberec’s game with Chomutov

Ice hockey has always been billed as a family sport. The atmosphere with loud music, dancers and giveaways has become almost as important as the team on the ice. However across Europe there has been a raise in the tensions in the stands. The Stockholm derby between AIK and Djurgarden has in recent years become noted for the fights between rival supporters. Even as the incident in Cardiff was evolving in the Czech Republic Philadelphia Flyers’ Wayne Simmonds, icing for Liberec during the lockout, was subjected to chants of ‘Opice’ or ‘monkey’ by opposition fans.

Whilst the UK is not close to seeing the same level of crowd trouble the Olson incident, where by a ‘fan’ was capable of getting past a steward to push a player, is a worrying sign of how the fan base in the UK could develop. If this were to happen as the incident highlights many rinks in the UK would be under prepared. It was far to easy for a member of the public to get to a player during a heated moment.

With the exception of the arena teams in Braehead, Nottingham, Sheffield and Belfast teams use permanent ice rinks and because of this passageways are next to the ice meaning players must cross these to get to the dressing rooms. Most rinks also do not employ stewards or security to guard these passageways but a dedicated group of volunteers do the job instead.

Whilst doing a brilliant job they are ill prepared to and should not be asked to handle thugs. What the EIHL needs to look at is whether its rink standards are high enough. Rinks should not only be required to have plexiglass and netting but a safe passage to the dressing rooms for the players perhaps with a physical barrier rather than a steward.

The league than can only do so much and the clubs have a responsibility as well. Clubs should be seriously considering how well trained their stewards are. It isn’t acceptable to expect a volunteer to deal with thugs like the ‘fan’ in Cardiff. Clubs need to consider whether or not they need to employ stewards or at least better train their volunteers.

Neil Tucker

Neil has written on ice hockey for many websites concentrating on British ice hockey mostly. Neil also covers ice hockey in other countries and organises his Blueliner Hockey Tour. A graduate of the Manchester Metropolitan University Neil turned his hand to hockey writing in 2009. As well as contributing on Blueliner Hockey Neil has contributed to Get Real Hockey and Slapshot Magasine.

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