Coach Bliss Littler's comments following two NAHL games at Maysa Arena last weekend are hypocritical to say the least.
After four players from his Wenatchee Wild and four Minot Minotauros resorted to boorish antics resulting in all of their ejections Friday, Littler said he was "embarrassed."
The next night, the play was once again chippy. Minot's Beau Ricketts received a 10-minute misconduct for a check from behind that left Wild star Jono Davis - the league's leading scorer - with a concussion.
Concussions are serious and can cause lasting damage to one's brain. Studies and lawsuits against the NHL and NFL are forcing all sports to clean up dirty play that can lead to head injuries.
Ricketts acknowledged that the play "looked bad," but disagreed with the penalty. Littler told a reporter after the game the hit "was as dirty as it comes."
The coach was rightfully annoyed and his assessment may be accurate. Unfortunately, he resorted to childish antics not unlike those that embarrassed him the night before. Instead of simply expressing his dismay with the hit, he added what can only be taken as a threat toward Ricketts, an 18-year-old.
"Opening night in Wenatchee, the (26th) of October, that kid will get his," Littler said.
Is that the example a coach should be setting in a league with players as young as 16 years old?
Littler declined to elaborate on what he meant when reached Tuesday by phone.
Hockey can be a violent sport. Big hits and players dropping gloves for combat are exciting for everyone involved.
There is also something to be said for civility and ensuring the harsh elements of the game stay within the confines of the rules. Vaguely calling out a player may lead to more dangerous play, which doesn't belong on the ice.
Trash talk is also a part of sports, but an often unnecessary and poorly used strategy, especially among adolescents. When a coach lowers himself to that level, one fears for the lack of overall development of the young men in his tutelage.
Junior hockey players don't live the lives of average teenagers. They play a 60-game season away from home with top college and professional aspirations. Hockey is their life, but the majority won't make a full career in it. Regardless, their leaders are shaping them whether they like it or not.
The Wenatchee Wild need a reality check. The league's top team should conduct itself with character that mirrors its impressive talent. The team failed this weekend in that respect.
Following their win Friday, the Wild could be clearly heard through the walls of their locker room yelling a prepared chant that is far too vulgar to print.
I've been in and around many locker rooms, including the NFL's. I respect and understand the unwritten rule that certain things shouldn't be reported on from there.
There are also things that shouldn't be said there or anywhere. The profanity-laced chant directed at the host team included graphic sexual language meant as insults (which could have been taken as chauvinistic and homophobic).
Yes, young athletes say immature and inappropriate things, but this chorus was well beyond crude and within earshot of female sports medicine personnel that may have been walking through that hallway. The Tauros also have kids, who help organize player equipment, roaming the halls.
Athletes far too often take on the persona of their coaches and leaders. Hopefully, Minot's hockey and sporting community prevents any such ignorant and disgusting behavior from being condoned or purposefully ignored.
(Tim Chapman is the sports editor for the Minot Daily News. He can be reached via email at tchap