WENATCHEE — Wenatchee head coach Bliss Littler and assistant coach Chris Clark both received suspensions from the NAHL recently for the fallout of a home game on Jan. 26 against the Kenai River Brown Bears.
Littler received a five-game suspension and Clark — who walked onto the ice wearing sunglasses, a bow tie, tuxedo and using a hockey stick as a walking stick as a means of commenting on the officiating after a Kenai River goal — is suspended indefinitely. Clark can apply for reinstatement on March 25.
Both coaches were ejected from the game and have not been on the Wild bench during gametime since the contest two weekends ago, which ended in a 2-1 loss.
Clark acted out of frustration and felt his players were receiving unfair treatment from the crew of referees, he said after the game. The fifth-year assistant issued an apology Jan. 28, two days after the incident.
“There is no excuse for what I did,” he said in the apology, which is posted in full on the Wenatchee Wild website. “I did not represent the organization or myself in a professional manner, and for that, I am sorry.”
Littler, who was ejected from the game shortly after Clark, said his suspension came from “not controlling the bench.”
“Everything that happens on the bench is my responsibility,” the first-year Wild coach said.
Neither coach will be present on the bench during gametime for the entirety of the suspensions and are prohibited from communicating with players one hour before and five minutes after game time.
Besides that, the coaches will continue to work with the team and fulfill all other team-related responsibilities.
“That whole situation’s very regrettable,” Littler said. “He (Clark) made a mistake, something that’s not of his character. On my end, I’m a GM-coach, I’m responsible for everything that goes on on and off the ice. … That’s the ruling they (the NAHL) came out with. I’ll sit my games and Clarkey’ll sit his.”
Assistant coach Tom Rudrud will control the bench in Littler’s absence, a role he took up during last weekend’s three-game home series against the Fairbanks Ice Dogs.
The NAHL West-leading Wild travel to face the Fresno Monsters for a two-game series, which starts Friday.