Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Les Carpenter of The Guardian,
The code. The code. The code. That’s all that mattered in those days. Maybe it’s all that matters still. Hockey has always been a referendum on intrepidness. Who’s a tough guy? Who is not?
Former NHL referee Paul Stewart can still hear the words thundering down from a boss when back trouble forced him to lug his gear through airports and train stations in a rolling travel bag rather than one thrown over his shoulder.
“You look like a fag.”
This wasn’t that long ago. Stewart only retired in 2003, and the rolling bag came a few years before that – maybe a little before he found he had stage three colon cancer in the middle of a 1,000-game NHL officiating career. Always the code. Always be tough. The word he despised was “pussy”. It was tossed around rinks like a mark of shame. Use a rolling bag? You’re a pussy. Wear a helmet? What a pussy. Dare to say your head doesn’t feel right after it cracked against the ice? Don’t be a pussy.
So Stewart said nothing about the ringing in his skull on those nights after especially hard hits. To admit the confusion, the nausea, the gaps in recollection would be labeled a pussy, and there was no room for pussies in professional hockey. It’s only now, more than a decade after his last game, with nothing to lose, no reputation to risk that Stewart finally tells the truth. All those concussions the football players get that are also the domain of the hockey enforcers? Well, referees get those too. It’s just something nobody talks about.
from Frank Seravalli of TSN,
Through the first quarter of the season, there have been 57 challenges - nearly one every five games - and 42 of those (73 per cent) have questioned goaltender interference compared to an offside ruling.
If GMs want to take the decision away from referees, expect a fight from NHL director of officiating Stephen Walkom, who will do everything he can to keep the call in the hands of on-ice officials. Since September, referees have been pushed to “make the better call” in replays, even if it means reversing their own call. But what if the best call comes from Toronto more consistently?
There have been a lot of reasons given for why the war room should make the final call on challenges: Toronto has quicker access to replays, plus they have large monitors to view the angles, compared to a 10-inch screen in the timekeeper’s box, which is about the size of an iPad.
The hammer in the argument, though, is that the handful of league employees making the decision on goaltender interference on a nightly basis will have a lot less variance in opinion than the 35 on-ice referees. To each, goaltender interference may mean something else. And right now, the only thing more baffling in sports than what constitutes a catch in the NFL might be what actually stands for goaltender interference.
more plus other hockey topics...
Paul Devorski and NHL players talk about the dialogue between referees and players on the ice during play, and how heated moments can seem tense to outsiders but are just part of the relationship.
from Kerry Fraser of TSN,
Throughout my entire officiating career I felt it was important that I own my mistakes by offering a mea culpa to the game participants on the spot and even a public admission if asked by the media later.
That courtesy extended beyond just perceived errors or controversial calls to also provide an explanation of any decision made on the ice from my perspective. Reporters always gather quotes from an emotional player or coach in their post-game interview. It would only be fair and balanced if they heard from the official that made the decision.
The officials’ ability to communicate in a public forum was sealed off once the league restricted media access to their officials and placed a gag on the referees and linesmen from issuing public statements. Whenever the league deems it necessary to provide an explanation on any hot-button game-related issue, a statement is typically prepared and released by the public relations department.
During the playoffs, when a heightened focus is generally placed on the referees and linesmen, all post-game statements are issued through the series supervisor after he consults with the officiating crew. If it is a major controversy the PR department will prepare the statement.
While I would prefer to personally explain my perspective on a play, I completely understand why the league must restrict access to their officials. Some officials I worked with were very media savvy while the majority was not. Inaccurate or inappropriate statements could lead to further damage control for the league.
On rare occasions, the senior vice-president of hockey operations or the officiating department has issued a statement to provide clarification of a play or infraction that was ruled upon incorrectly.
For years, fans complained that clutch-and-grab hockey was behind the decline in goals, and it's vaguely depressing to see that largely eliminating it barely made a difference. It turns out that fans of goal-scoring have bigger problems. The goalies are just too big and too good, the defensive systems too well implemented, the shot-blocking too common, and yes, maybe the nets are even too small. As it turns out, the league's offensive problems run much deeper than simply calling the rulebook.
-Sean McIndoe of ESPN where you can read more on this topic.
from Ray Ferraro of TSN,
...clarify the crease rule. The implementation of video review was supposed to help make calls on goalie interference plays. All that seems to be happening is goals are disallowed more often. It’s no one’s fault, it’s just what is happening.
I have broadcast world junior and world championship games and played in three world championships for Canada. Through that exposure, I’ve grown to like the international crease rule. As soon as a player wanders into the crease, the whistle blows. The play is stopped and drops out of what I call the trap door. The faceoff is moved outside the blueline. It isn’t the rule that was involved in the Brett Hull-Buffalo mess; it’s more clear-cut than that.
It has been amazing to watch how there are several whistles early in an international tournament but far fewer as the tournament goes on and players become accustomed to the rule. I think it takes away the confusion.
from Kerry Fraser of TSN,
The majority of penalty infractions called last night were for restraining fouls (hooking, holding, tripping, interference). Most of them however were on the puck carrier. Statistics, along with my personal observation, bears out the fact that a slippage has resulted over time, in the referees’ standard of enforcement on restraining fouls occurring away from the puck. While nobody likes to see ‘ticky-tack’ penalties called, a potential increase in goal scoring could be immediate if the referees were directed to enforce restraining fouls on the non-puck carrier to a similar degree demonstrated following the first lockout.
A faster, more exciting attack would be achieved by forcing players to move their feet as opposed to hooking and holding up their opponent. Regardless of the size of the net and goalkeeper’s equipment, increased power-play opportunities would result in an immediate and proportional increase in scoring.
added 2:06pm, from Neil Greenberg of the Washington Post,
Since the 2005-06 season, power-play opportunities have been on a rapid decline, and they’ve done so at an even greater pace than the scoring drop. During the first year after the lockout eliminated the 2004-05 season, a team received almost six power-play opportunities per game. That has since dropped to 3.24 per game, which is slightly higher than last year (3.06), but still low enough to keep the scoring rate depressed for another season.
NHL teams convert on the power play 19 percent of the time, on average, so an additional two power-play opportunities would result in 0.38 goals per team per game. That would buoy the scoring average up to 3.04 goals per team per game, a level we have seen twice in the past 20 seasons.
The American Hockey League today announced a new four-year officiating development agreement with the National Hockey League which will continue to see the AHL serve as the top development league for the NHL’s referees through 2018-19.
Under the terms of the agreement, the NHL and AHL officiating departments will continue to work together in all aspects of recruitment, training and development of on-ice officials. NHL-contracted referees will continue to be assigned to officiate approximately one-half of American Hockey League games each season, with the balance of AHL games to be worked by AHL-contracted referees who have been identified as top officiating prospects.
via Michael Russo of the Star Tribune,
Linesman Brian Mach became the first Minnesotan to officiate 1,000 NHL games during Friday’s Wild-Blackhawks game.
Mach has so many stories and memories, but here are his two favorite:
His very first faceoff during a 2000 preseason game in Denver. After an offside, Mach dropped the puck between Dallas’ Mike Modano and Colorado’s Joe Sakic. Modano inexplicably fell on top of the puck, Sakic inexplicably put his hand on top of Modano. Mach blew his whistle, and the two future Hall of Famers stood up, took their gloves off, shook Mach’s hand and said, “Congrats, we wish you the best of luck.
“It just floored me. A kid from Little Falls, Minnesota, and those two stars knew right then and there that was my first puck drop. I was just flabbergasted.”
The second involves Modano, too. After 9/11, NHL officials spent much of the 2001 preseason traveling on team charters. Mach flew to a couple of games with the Stars.
During Mach’s first season as an NHL official, “Modano would always win my faceoffs, like religiously win them.”
On the team plane, Mach spotted Modano studying video and saw himself on the screen. “Modano goes to me, ‘You know how I win every faceoff from you?’ ” Mach said. “I said, ‘Yeah, how do you do it?’ He goes, ‘Watch your pointer finger on your right hand.’ I would just move it enough on the puck right before I dropped the puck that he knew it was going down.
“The next night, on the ice, my first faceoff with Modano, I had my finger glued to that puck. I dropped it, he lost it clean and he looked at me and goes, ‘Wow.’ I just giggled. He said, ‘I’m never telling you another thing again.’ ”
Don Cherry talks about the new overtime format, the Maple Leafs issues at the net and goes on a rant about what is happening to the Toronto Blue Jays.
Plus a few more topics including some of the rookies...
About Kukla's Korner Hockey
Paul Kukla founded Kukla’s Korner in 2005 and the site has since become the must-read site on the ‘net for all the latest happenings around the NHL.
From breaking news to in-depth stories around the league, KK Hockey is updated with fresh stories all day long and will bring you the latest news as quickly as possible.
Email Paul anytime at firstname.lastname@example.org