Jono Bullard looks at why it is quite right, in his opinion, that the Department of Player Safety committee remains annonymous.
The controversy around the Department of Player Safety (DOPS) was eased somewhat yesterday as the Elite League produced a document explaining the criteria DOPS works to. There was also an interview with Simon Kirkham who is heading DOPS this season. The interview and criteria can be found on the Elite League website.
Many questions have been answered, from what is reviewed to the timelines involved for making a decision. The criteria also explains that Kirkham heads DOPS and has the final say in all decisions. From the document itself “He [Kirkham] is in charge of receiving requests and reviewing incidents, aided by a panel of up to 5 ‘hockey people’ from various different countries, who will also review the incidents.” And “Due to the tight deadlines the other members of the committee may change, this is one of the reasons why they are not named.”
Most of the debate on social media has surrounded this, with many asking ‘why so secretive?’ My question to this is why do you need to know? Chances are it’ll be someone you’ve never heard of so why is it important you know who it is? The article reveals that Simon Kirkham is making the final decisions and he takes feedback from the committee before making a judgment so I think that is fair enough. Does anyone know who makes up the disciplinary panel of the Barclays Premier League for example?
Many fans do have a modicum of mistrust when it comes to the EIHL which is fair enough when you consider how promises have been made but not acted upon (specific EIHL rules on the website and outputs from board meetings as two examples). I think this is what drives the need to know who else is behind DOPS, especially with the perception that some clubs benefit more from suspensions than others which leads to even more suspicion.
Personally, I don’t think it’s important to know who else is on the committee as I’m prepared to take the EIHL at face value and accept that the committee members are officials from around Europe & North America. The league has legitimately been accused of not being open with the fans I the past but releasing the information on DOPS is a step in the right direction. I’m hoping similar initiatives from the EIHL will become more commonplace so that the lack of trust fans have towards the EIHL can be reversed.
For me though, what is most important is player safety and again quoting from the article:
“Dangerous hits to the head, neck and back are something the EIHL is keen to cut out. Player injuries from these incidents mean teams can’t put their strongest side out on the ice, so there needs to be a deterrent and that is where DOPS comes in.
There is no doubt DOPS will be unpopular at times and people may disagree with the decisions, but Simon Kirkham and his committee will make the calls they believe are correct following the rules of the game.”
I’m sure that is something we can all agree on.