The Zebra Perspective: State of the XHL
Well, the 2018 summer season has passed the halfway mark, and most agree that this is the most competitive season in recent memory. As I write this, the top 5 teams all are separated by ONE point..and the defending champs are only 3 points out of first place. It’s been exciting and competitive, and we are set up for a very interesting ‘stretch run’!
I thought I’d take a minute and let the league know what we as refs are seeing, and what we think needs to be addressed as we edge closer to playoff time.
The first and most important thing to say is that overall, the players are doing a GREAT JOB. Penalties are generally down – most games are seeing 3 or less called – and play has been much cleaner overall.
Specific areas that I’ve seen the most improvement:
-Trash talking. There’s really never a good reason to talk to the other team during a game; I’ve seen a dramatic decrease in this area. Good work!
-Pinning. Players are doing a fine job moving the ball around rather than trapping it against the wall.
-Post-game complaints (at the rink). Losing sucks, and I know some of these losses have been excruciating. I’ve seen upset players do a good job overall of leaving the rink area before venting their frustrations.
-Communication with me/the board. We’ve had several players reach out to us about specific rules questions or concerns about prior games. I want to reiterate – WE WANT THIS. I want to hear from you! If you think we missed something, text me the next day and I’ll be happy to discuss it. My main focus is to make all of us better, including myself.
Now, there are still a few areas that I think we could focus on improving. None of these is a huge issue, but the first two have been escalating recently and the board believes we should ‘nip them in the bud’ before they get out of hand:
-Diving. I’ve seen a lot more of it, from a lot of different teams and players. It can be very hard for a ref to tell the difference between a dive and a legit injury, and we want to give the player the benefit of the doubt – but if we see a dive, the refs have been instructed to call it. If it’s obvious, you might get 2 + a 10 minute misconduct. Diving is TERRIBLE for the game and for our league. Do your part – stay on your skates.
-Physical play. This is related to above in my opinion – more contact leads to more attempts to ‘buy’ calls. With so many close, hard-fought games..we are seeing the level of contact start to rise. By and large we don’t want games to become ‘penalty fests’ – but in the end, that’s up to the players. If you want to play a physical style, expect to receive more penalties than other players. This is a NON-CONTACT league. We’ll let a little bit of contact go, but not much.
-On-court complaining to the refs. I know, you see players in the NHL…and the NBA…and the World Cup complaining to the refs constantly. We are not those leagues. This is the XHL, the refs don’t need thehassle. What the ref says, goes – especially on a judgment call. Constant complaining will also get you a 10-minute cooldown.
Again, though, I don’t want to give the wrong impression. The league as a whole is very healthy and competitive, and you players are to be commended for the progress we’ve seen this season. Let’s just work together to keep improving it. My cell is 553-1451, please text me with any suggestions you may have.
Best of luck to all teams,
Director of Officiating