The festive period has been something of a roller-coaster ride for Braehead Clan netminder Chris Holt.
A win and an overtime loss in Clan’s first two Christmas games were followed by Holt picking up an injury in training which has ruled him out for the next few weeks.
The goalie’s mood also hasn’t been helped by a recent spat on social media which saw him and a match official criticised for engaging in some online ‘banter’ on Christmas Day.
Holt’s conversation with Toby Craig on Twitter was highlighted by a number of fans who claimed it was ‘unhealthy’ for the pair to be talking ahead of Clan’s visit to Dundee Stars the following day.
“I just honestly don’t see the problem at all,” said Holt. “The beauty of ice hockey is the integrity that goes along with it. The same goes with the referees. They hold themselves to the highest standard they can possibly do.
“There isn’t a referee in the world that I’ve come across that would ref any differently because of the fact that he knows any of the players.
“In every league as the season goes on, you see the same refs game in and game out. You build an on-ice relationship with them that includes some friendly banter, and learn their tendencies and things like that.
“I’ve had the pleasure of interacting a little with Toby off the ice as well so we’ve developed a friendship. If people have a problem with that, I don’t care one single bit.
“If people believe that it’s inappropriate, I can only assume it’s because they feel he’ll not ref their team the same, which is ridiculous.
— British Ice Hockey (@BritIceHockey) December 26, 2015
Dundee fan Paul Hunt picked up on the interaction between Holt and Craig and was amongst those to condemn their actions.
“I don’t want to be too personal, but this official is far too close to Braehead,” said Hunt. “It could have been any Clan player so I feel sorry it’s Chris.
“It doesn’t help when we’ve only had two regular referees in Scotland – (Rab) Cowan and Craig. I personally think it’s the timing as much as anything.
“With Stars playing Clan, Craig puts himself in a no-win position. This would be unacceptable in football or rugby. There’s no way there should be public communication between an official and a player the day before a game.
“I’m sure it’s totally innocent but from the referee’s point of view it’s very unprofessional. I’m sure Clan fans would feel the same if it was the other way around.”
Holt disagreed, saying he felt sad that people are cynical and that his discussions with the official were no different than talking with players from a different team.
“It’s not like we’re discussing how to throw games or whether or not I’m going to ‘let’ someone on another team score because we are friends off the ice,” Holt added.
“The reality is that some people just like to hear the sound of their own voice when, in reality, nobody else is listening.”
(Image permission: Al Goold Photo)