A Statement From Thunderbirds President/GM Scott Brand
As I am sure you are aware there was an incident last Sunday with a game that involved Elmira and your Thunderbirds. There are a couple of questions that have arisen and several of you have reached out to our office for a comment, etc. We won’t have all the answers right now because everything is still being investigated by the league but here is what we can tell you right now.
First and foremost, it would have been irresponsible for any comment to be made involving a situation which is being investigated either by law enforcement or internally within the league. As clear as the facts and information may be or appear to be, we believe that all parties should be heard, and the evidence presented before we round up the torches and pitchforks. Our series with Elmira has been spirited and I expect it to continue that way.
Both teams compete hard, we just happen to fight for truth, justice, and the American Way and they hate puppies and kittens (Too Soon?).
In all seriousness, we respect their players as well as all the players in the FHL.
A question was asked why our coach was in the lineup Sunday. The answer is very simple, we were short with injuries (two of our 20-man roster did not make the trip, plus another was held out for precautionary measures after being injured Saturday) and three of our players were sick with the flu and playing through it, including multiple defensemen. The ability to add a healthy body who had been skating with the team all year was a decision we opted to make in the name of keeping our team competitive.
While the celebrity player’s status is usually meant for non-active personnel, other teams have used it to play former pro players and even their own head coaches. We will use it again on our last home game with one of our interns. The rule should probably be addressed/cleaned up this summer, along with other changes to our league by-laws and rules and regulations so the celebrity contract is not abused in an improper way going forward.
As of right now, the status of the game on Sunday is still in limbo, we have expressed our thoughts and we will wait to hear back from the league. It does no good to rehash what happened. I am sure that everyone has seen the footage and you can make your own judgement. The league has issued a max fine by our by-laws and some penalties with more still being reviewed regarding both teams.
We are disappointed the league’s on-ice officials have resigned, quit or are boycotting the league, especially before any league decision was made. We fully understand and support every official who chooses to work in the FHL or chooses not to.
The games this weekend will go on and we have on-ice officials to cover them, we do appreciate those who have worked our league in the past and their administrators. Officials understand the emotions in all sports and the occasional questioning of a call. Our fans have been known to chant things like “ref we disagree” and “ref, you inhale with force” however physical confrontation is NEVER acceptable.
As much as we fans might believe the officials are out to get our own team or might be visionally impaired, they have the toughest job in hockey, and I would argue the greatest job which is protecting the integrity of our game. We do appreciate them, though it might take longer after a loss, because they have more love and respect for our game than anyone else.
Friday night we will drop the puck and we will play the Mentor Ice Breakers. Even though they currently sit in last place, they have really started to make a lot of waves in the league and they tend to play us particularly tough. We look forward to seeing you at the Annex and go Thunderbirds!
What’s the word???