Thommo Fined Over Fan Incident

Paul Thompson has for a long time been an up standing member of the British ice hockey community. A four time Elite League winner as coach of the Coventry Blaze and a coach of the national team but he was now been fined and cautioned by the EIHL disciplinary committee for his ‘conduct towards supporters’ during the Blaze’s game with Cardiff last Sunday. Paul Thompson will continue to be a leading figure in the sport in the UK despite the incident but it does go to show that players, officals and coaches need to be above the masses when it comes to their behaviour towards fans.

Ice hockey has in many cases not reached the heights of other sports in the level of abuse from the terraces. Chants referring to players as paedophiles for example have not been heard in rinks as they have at soccer games but that is not to say that insults have not been hurled.

The details of the incident are not exactly clear but it is clear from the reaction of the EIHL that it was serious enough and sadly another incident this season involving fans and ice hockey professionals.

The nature of fans to players in UK rinks does play a roll in these incidents. The physical separation of the fans from the on ice professionals in arena’s does give some protection from heckling and any response which is not found in many of the UK’s rinks. The Olsen incident in Cardiff highlighted the need for better separation of fans and players and the need for better training of stewards. However it is not an excuse.

Fans have done and always will heckle players. It is part of being a fan and is what makes playing away from home so much harder. Obviously racist, homophobic etc aside as a player, coach or referee it is something that must be put up with. Also players, coaches and referees are on a pedestal and so must be treated to higher standard. These people are not only role models to younger fans but also the face of ice hockey in the UK.

The EIHL has fined Paul Thompson for his behaviour and politics regarding the Coventry – Cardiff relationship aside it is the right thing to do. It is something that should be nipped in the bud straightaway and repeat offenders should be dealt with harshly as well whether it is at a game or on the social network.

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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