The North American Hockey League has
been making strides when it comes to credibility so far this season. Commissioner
Mark Frankenfeld has done a fantastic job of bringing the league to new highs.
Last Thursday the league took a major step backwards and not too many folks
knew about it.
Texas Tornado boss Tony Curtale was
suspended by the league for eight games due to a post-game verbal tirade against the on-ice game official. I was
shocked when I saw the news that the commissioner was going to put an end to
all of Curtale's antics and felt the suspension sent a message to the rest of
Curtale appealed his suspension before Corpus Christi's
Justin Quenneville got only three games for stepping onto the ice during an
altercation. His assistant Jeff Worlton got six games for a hand gesture that
nobody really even seen. By rule, Texas had to appeal the suspension within 24 hours of receiving notice of it.
So what does the upward bound NAHL do?
How does dropping the last five games of Curtale's suspension sound to you?
That's right; Curtale was on the bench for both of the Tornado's games in
Did the commissioner bother to notify
the rest of the league in regards to this decision? Absolutely not. When I
brought the fact up to a number of the members of the league's board of governors,
they were surprised and could not believe it. One even said that there must
have been a mistake on the score-sheet. One went as far as saying that I was
just trying to cause trouble and that the league would be filing a lawsuit
against me if I made these false allegations public.
He called back 20 minutes later
apologizing for his out-burst. "I'm done with this nonsense," the team owner
said. "What in the heck is Mark (Frankenfeld) thinking?"
When it comes to sending a message,
nothing speaks louder about the credibility of the league then watching the
love affair between Curtale and Frankenfeld continue to be carried out before
It is this type of a serious lack of
professionalism that has put a huge black mark on Frankenfeld's career. While
Frankenfeld is racking up the air miles in pursuit of new teams and acquiring
leagues, maybe he should stay a little closer to home and realize that decisions
like this are chopping his legs out from under him.
Current NA3HL owners are irate about
the commissioner's heavy hand in regards to their league's discipline issues.
That anger gets compounded with the commissioner's buddy getting five games
chopped from his vacation.
The league has done a decent job of
taking work off Frankenfeld's desk and discipline was supposed to be one of
Chris Allman is the league's full-time
officiating coordinator and he is also assigned the task of dolling out
suspensions and fines for discipline issues. Appeals of his initial action are
heard by Scott Brand, Dan Monacelli and a rotating third person. Curtale served the first three games of the suspension, The remaining five games (and fine) come back into play if there is a violation of his probation according to Brand. This would be on top of any new time that would come from the new violation.
Did Frankenfeld's friendship with
Curtale have any influence on the mini appeals trio? We'll never know. What we do know is that in to court of public
opinion, the buck stops with Frankenfeld and that this situation looks bad for
the league regardless of how it is trying to be spun.
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Stephen Heisler resides in Puerto Penasco, Mexico with his wife,
Maria, and their two children, Sonia and Tomas. Follow him on Twitter @StephenHeisler for up to minute updates from the world of junior