Fife Flyers’ coach criticises DOPS - “we are not a dirty team”

Fife Flyers coach Todd Dutiaume has taken hockey’s disciplinary body to task over its handling of flashpoints involving his team.

Fife Flyers head coach Todd Dutiaume debates with the officials in a game versus Sheffield Steelers (Pic: Steve Gunn)

His comments came after Sunday’s game against Sheffield Steelers saw key forward Chase Schaber taken out with a hit which he branded “dangerous” and “vicious” – and led to team-mate Dannick Gauthier being ejected for a retaliatory fight.

The impact of the check could be season-ending for Schaber.

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The club says it is still waiting to hear from the Department of Player Safety (DOPS) on any additional punishment – and Dutiaume says it is also waiting for a response to its comments on the previous flashpoint following a post-game brawl with Manchester Storm.

Fife Flyers - Chase Schaber on the ice injured after a hit coach Todd Dutiaume branded "dangerous" and "vicious" in a game against Sheffield Steelers (Pic: Steve Gunn)

That unsavoury incident saw both teams fined £3000, and defenceman Evan Stoflet handed a six game ban.

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Fife Flyers v Manchester Storm (Pic: Jillian McFarlane)

Fife Flyers face fine and ban after poost-match brawlDutiaume, the longest serving coach in the EIHL, says his team is being “heavily punished” – and players are not being protected on the ice.

On the likelihood of Gauthier receiving a ban, Dutiaume added: “It is all up for automatic review, but the important thing to recognise is that the game got out of hand, and you’re seeing it happen a lot more.

“When players don’t feel protected on the ice, the natural human instinct is to stick up for people getting hurt.”

And on the previous findings of DOPS on his players, he said: “We seem to be heavily punished for things other teams do on a regular basis, and it’s big bad Flyers again. This is not a dirty team.”

“In the first three months of the season we were by far the least penalised team in the league. All of a sudden, a few changes up here, we became one of the most heavily penalised teams.

“If you look at all the decisions in the past, we’ve had guys like TJ Caig, one of the most gentlemanly players out on the ice, ends up getting three games for an insignificant hit.

“Carlo Finucci gives a slash to the back of the legs and ends up with two games even though nobody is hurt on the play.

“This is over years and years of watching this happen, and it’s frustrating for the guys because I know how much they are putting into it.

“It’s tough to see them in their profession feel they are getting nailed to a wall.”

Dutiaume also confirmed that Flyers have received no response from DOPS to their request for clarity following the decision to fine the club £3000 and suspend Evan Stoflet for six games following the post-match fracas against Manchester Storm last month.

He added: “There has been zero response, to me or my bosses, and we’ve chased it up numerous times.

“I think that speaks for itself.”

The Press asked the league for an update on Flyers’ request and were told: “Both Fife and Manchester lodged protests at the DOPS ruling. However, both will still be fined and the issued suspensions stand.”