We have always seen various Facebook, Twitter, and other social media slip ups over the past few years. While fans can pretty much have full reign to say whatever they want with little repercussions, players, executives and coaches aren’t exempt. One segment of people whom we have seen very little of when it comes to social media are officials. Officials for the most part are there to do one job and one job only: to put the stripes on and officiate the game ahead of them. Hockey officials in most high-level leagues [I know for sure in the NCAA] are even prohibited from talking to the media. As a USA Hockey official myself, I keep whatever thoughts I have about what occurs on the ice and inside the arena to myself. I don’t even mention games I work when communicating with friends on Twitter or Facebook unless I have an on-ice question or scenario to ask a fellow official. There was one lapse in judgement by an Ontario Hockey League official when traveling to a game that cost him the opportunity to skate league games for the rest of the season including the playoffs.
Referee Joe Monette was in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario on Friday to officiate a game between the Soo Greyhounds and Windsor Spitfires when he posted “Soo Saint Marie, two words, Slim Pickens #noteeth #hicktown #allfatties.” While the tweet was considered to be an inside joke between Monette and a friend who lives in Sault Ste. Marie, it was probably something more appropriate for a private text message between the two and not a tweet for public consumption. His Twitter handle @monzy25 has now since been made private.
Monette was in Sault Ste. Marie on Friday to officiate a game between the Greyhounds and Windsor when he posted “Soo Saint Marie, two words, Slim Pickens #noteeth #hicktown #allfatties.”
On Wednesday, the league came down with the decision to suspend Monette for the rest of the regular season and the playoffs. In a statement issued by the OHL, Commissioner David E. Branch stated “all individuals who are associated with the Ontario Hockey League, either in a management, coaching or officiating position with both Member Teams and the League have been apprised of the League’s Social Networking Policy and understand that there is a responsibility to ensure that at all times we conduct ourselves in a most professional manner. Mr. Monette displayed extremely poor judgment and the “tweet” not only contravened the League’s Social Networking Policy, but as well was detrimental to the welfare of the League, the officiating staff and fans of the OHL. The League apologizes to those that may have been offended by such comments”.
Some people might disagree with the suspension because the tweets were in personal nature and not related to something hockey-related. But care must be used especially when you are under a microscope in a area like hockey. Let’s hope Monette can use this as a teachable moment and he will use better judgement when making comments about the cities he works in.