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Thursday, January 31, 2013

Analyzing the Harsh Penalty to OHL Referee Joe Monette

I have done some pretty silly things on Twitter, and had one or two comments not taken in the true spirit of my intention.  Rightfully so I got slapped on the wrist, and completely understood how the Tweets that I made got taken out of context.  That is the downfall of social media, particularly Twitter in which you only get 140 characters to get your point across.  

Referee Joe Monette made a very, very foolish decision last Friday night after officiating the Soo/Windsor game when he made some extremely discriminatory, and stereotypical remarks about the good folks from Sault Ste Marie.  Using terms like "slim pickens" and referencing size and dental work was about as foolish as it can get.   Monette claimed it was a joke between he and a friend, and that no malice was intended.  Point taken,  but in your role as a representative of the OHL and its Officials, he was so far over the line that SIRI could not get him back there.  

For this ill-advised attempt at humour, David Branch came down heavily on Monette, suspending him for the balance of the year, including play-offs.  Branch said that Monette contravened the leagues social media, was detrimental to the league etc.  You could read the wording of the decision HERE 

The banishment for the rest of the year is unduly harsh, if you equate an officials schedule with that of an OHL team.  In essence he was suspended for upwards of 20 games, + playoffs where officials likely get more post-season games on a merit based system.   

Now, I would have suspended Monette, no question about that, and any games on his schedule with the Sault on it would be changed.   A penalty such as the one meted out though is excessive, and will try to use a legal analogy to explain it.  

I equate on-ice incidents involving players that require supplemental discipline to be akin to Criminal Law.  There is a clear transgression and the player pays for it by not being able to compete.  Something like what Monette did falls outside of that, and discriminatory terms such as the ones he used are more a Human Rights issue, and that is an element of the law that is consequenced differently.  There are punitive measures, but there is also the goal of correcting the wrong with consequences such as letters of apology, human rights training, monetary considerations etc.   I would have given Monette 10 games, have that factor into his playoff schedule, had him issue an official letter of apology and sent him to sensitivity training on his own dime.   Balance of the season banishment is for the most serious or repeat offender.  

This was a foolish decision made by someone who did not recognize that he most uphold certain standards as an official in a league such as the Ontario Hockey League.  It did not, however, warrant the punishment he was dealt.  

And, one final word for Joe Monette.  Twitter has something called a direct message.  It goes to your friend and only your friend.  Its something to consider for next time. 

Steve Clark
OHL TV Play by Play Broadcaster
Niagara IceDogs

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