Elmira Enforcers Owner Robbie Nichols Speaks Out Following Alleged Altercation
UPDATE: The FHL has posted the following statement on their website from FHL Commissioner Don Kirnan:
Syracuse, NY - The Federal Hockey League is fully aware of the situation that occurred on Sunday afternoon in game number 141 between the Carolina Thunderbirds visiting the Elmira Enforcers at First Arena. We are currently investigating the actions of several participants in the incident and gathering information. Once the investigation is completed, we will assess the proper disciplinary measures.
We understand the severity and gravity of what has transpired, and know that with any decision made we must keep in mind the safety of our players, coaches, fans, and especially our officials. We appreciate all the passion from our fans for the game and the concerns of what has happened. Make no mistake, this has given our sport a black eye, and as a league we must try and find a way to rectify this unfortunate situation.
We want to thank former Director of Officiating Eugene Binda for his 10 years of service to the Federal Hockey League. His service has been invaluable to our growth and we owe him a huge debt of gratitude. We respect his decision to move in a different direction and wish him the best of luck in his future endeavors. Our games will continued to be played and we as a league will strive to put quality officials on the ice.
The Federal Hockey League has been working very closely with the Elmira Police Department throughout the incident. They have wrapped up their investigation and no further action will be taken.
Donald Kirnan Commissioner
ELMIRA, N.Y. (WENY) – Elmira Enforcers Owner Robbie Nichols has spoken out following the alleged incident between him and the officials during the Enforcers' game against the Carolina Thunderbirds on Sunday.
Sunday's game was suspended after the first period with the game tied at 1 because of an incident between Nichols and the officials that allegedly turned physical.
In an email, Referees Crease owner and referee in-chief for the FHL Eugene Binda said he has “unpublished all the games”, citing safety concerns for officiating staff. According to the email, in the alleged altercation with Nichols, one referee was pushed and the other had his shirt ripped open.
“I have been with the FHL since its inaugural season and have battled with the league on multiple occasions on the safety of the officiating staff,” wrote Binda. “Today was the last straw. I cannot in good conscience continue in my role as the supervisor of officials and in the future have one of you seriously injured by a player or team administrator.”
Binda went on to say, “Until the league figures out who they want to take over, I will not be back! This was an absolute disgrace...I would not be able to forgive myself if one of you were hurt under my watch.”
Nichols told his side of the story on Monday in an interview with WENT. Nichols says, "There was a goal that didn't go in. The referee called it a goal, our jumbotron showed that there was no goal. So when the ref came off I wanted to ask him how he could call that a goal. I had my hands crossed. The referee walked off and just chest bumped me. Then, actually, he went back onto the ice but then the linesman came in and gave me a double fist push to my chest, and then a little pushing and shoving happened there. But not really a big thing, I thought the game was going to continue. The referee's thought their life was threatened and asked for a police escort out of the building."
Nichols also responded to the press release sent out by Binda. He says, "He's entitled to his own opinion. He tried to quit before the season started. He's the scheduler, he schedules the referees. I believe the league will be making an announcement that we have a new scheduler of the referees. The games will be moving on Friday, Saturday, Sunday, everything is going forward. It will just be with a different scheduler. It will be some of the same referees, just a different scheduler of the referees."
Nichols also discussed the potential of a penalty being issued to the Elmira Enforcers. He says, "W'll be seeing a penalty coming to Elmira for what happened. They're going to review the tape and talk to the people involved and then usually they come down either today or tomorrow with a judgement on what the penalty would be."
During the interview, Nichols issued an apology to the Elmira fan base. He says, "I definitely apologize for the way it happened and went down. In no way did we want to leave our fans having to leave the game. They definitely can bring their ticket back and come back for Wednesday or Saturday's game. We didn't want this to happen, we're embarrassed by it but moving forward this definitely won't happen again here at First Arena.
Late Monday morning, the Enforcers Facebook page put out a post searching for volunteers for off-ice officials for the team's six remaining home games.
If you have any video or photos of the incident, please email them to WENY News at new36@WENY.com.