Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Cam Cole of the Vancouver Sun,
Patrick Kaleta ought to be locked up. Brendan Shanahan has gone soft on crime. The Montreal Canadiens are all divers. National Hockey League referees are rabbit-eared politicians.
It is Monday as we write this, and there is so much umbrage in the air, it makes us want to go back to bed and pull the covers over our heads. Except that, you know, it's almost all justified.
Reading from left to right:
*** Kaleta, the 26-year-old Buffalo Sabres winger, is building the kind of resume that would bring a flush of pride to the cheeks of Matt Cooke and Raffi Torres, whose co-authored Villainy 101 course Kaleta took by correspondence and evidently passed with flying colours.
He hasn't taken the 200-level followup course yet -- Image Management: how to morph from notorious headhunter to one who has seen the light, found God, repented, and in all other ways became a model citizen -- but perhaps it got stuck in the mail.
from Scott Burnside of ESPN,
One thing this shortened NHL season has given us in abundance is the fine art of the whine.
Nary a night passes that we don't hear rumblings and grumblings from a coach, general manager, player or the media covering a game about one or more (perceived) odious calls from the on-ice officials.
Wednesday night it was Detroit carping about non-calls in Los Angeles after a 2-1 loss to the Kings, while there were complaints in Toronto about a major checking from behind call assessed to Leafs forward Mike Brown.
Indeed, it's a rare night we don't hear some boo-hooing from some corner of the NHL world about calls made or not made.
Truly, is there anything more tiresome than someone complaining about the work done on the ice, especially given that invariably that complaint emanates from a team that ended up losing a game or a point in the standings?
from Pierre LeBrun of ESPN,
Brendan Shanahan sits back in his office chair and takes very little time to answer the question. Nearly midway through his second season as NHL chief disciplinarian, what has he learned the most?
"I don't think this is a job that can be done perfectly. It's only a job that you can aspire to do well," the NHL's senior vice-president of player safety said Thursday in an interview with ESPN.com.
Indeed, this job will never earn perfect marks. Not when you're dealing in the gray. There's no black and white in this gig.
But there is, Shanahan hopes people will realize, an attempt at developing a methodology that explains where he's coming from when doling out justice, or when he's not.
The real lessons are not just learned in the actual suspensions, but rather the knowledge gained from the 800-plus incidents -- small or big -- his player safety group reviewed last season.
Narration by Brendan Shanahan.
from Tim Wharnsby of CBC,
If the league looks at employment of a coach's challenge, there would be so many dynamics to consider.
How many challenges would a coach have in a game? Would a challenge be limited to certain types of plays? Would a failed challenge result in a penalty? Would a challenge be allowed in the closing minutes of a game? If so, coaches may use a challenge as a delay tactic to rest up his star players.
There is no harm with a trial and error period in the preseason in order to tinker with all these components. There is no harm in trying to get it right. But I'm not sure the NHL is ready for such an undertaking as a coach's challenge.
Kerry Fraser of TSN answers an email regarding those 'after the whistle' scrums which break out from time to time.
There are two ways a referee can handle the scrum issue effectively. The most obvious is as I suggested, call a penalty against the player that commits the face wash. The other less conventional method I employed was one night at the Bell Centre when a known 'rat' on the Montreal team entered a scrum with the full protection of the linesman. A former teammate of the 'rat' (and a pretty tough guy I might add) had been traded to the opposing team and became engaged with the Montreal player. The 'rat' quipped, trashed talked and threatened his former teammate from the safety the linesman provided him. I skated in and said to the 'rat' and within ear shot of everyone, "It looks to me like you really want a piece of that guy (his former teammate) and maybe you have a score to settle with him?" I turned to the linesman and said, "Do this guy a favour and let him go so he can take care of his own business!"
The opposing player's eyes lit up in delight and shouted to please let him go. The 'rat' wanted no part of it and hung onto the linesman's jersey. The scrum quickly ended without as much as a glove in the face.
My best answer in an effort to eliminate the 'chicken scratch' is the simple one Brian. Assess an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty for a glove in the face along with hair-pulling, biting, grabbing face mask, diving/embellishment and any other 'unmanly' act a player might commit. This will have a trickle-down effect to hopefully eliminate unbecoming conduct at all levels of the game, including Junior hockey. It just has to be added to the priority list!
from Pierre LeBrun of ESPN,
Here’s an idea I’ve heard that has some merit: Why not a third ref that watches the game from the press box with access to HD replay, etc.? He could review, on the spot, all the controversial calls and help reverse them in obvious cases like Backes and Desjardins, communicating directly to the refs just like the war room does on goal reviews.
The downside? It further slows down the game, which goal reviews already do as well.
But it’s something worth thinking about, in my opinion.
Another idea that’s already finding new life after being bandied about in years past is the merit of a "Coach’s Challenge," where a coach could challenge a penalty and ask for it to be reviewed. Two NHL head coaches reached out this week to me and suggested it’s time to renew that debate.
I don’t mind it, but prefer the first idea. My fear with the coach’s challenge is that coaches would want to challenge anything near the end of games out of desperation. The first idea involves a neutral person.
more hockey topics
from Elliotte Friedman of CBC,
- The referees are taking a beating after a rough weekend, but it's important to remember none of them worked during the lockout -- the second time in seven years that they refused to take anyone's job during a stoppage. The one thing they must start doing more of, though, is asking each other, "What did you see?" For example, take the Ottawa Senators' erased score in Montreal last Sunday. There was no conference -- and in a situation where the four officials are allowed to discuss it.
- Toronto Maple Leafs fans didn't like this one from Monday. I generally don't like that call, either. But every time I have this debate, someone points out that, after Clint Malarchuk and Richard Zednik, they don't want kicking motions around the unpredictability of the net. It's a legit argument.
- Last year, approximately 22 per cent of the NHL's goals were scored on the power play. This year, it's closer to one third. The Nashville Predators had the league's best power play in 2011-12 at 21.6 per cent success. It's early, but that number would be 13th right now.
more plus some Stepen Weiss talk...
from Ken Warren of the Ottawa Citizen,
While there is no official change to the goaltender interference rule, there is, however, a distinct change in inteference calls among skaters.
Players, particularly defencemen, have been left shaking their heads, trying to adapt to a new standard where they can’t get in the way of attacking forwards when they chip the puck behind them. On top of that, referees are also cracking down on players who are perceived to be “diving” in order to draw a penalty.
Gregson says that officials made a conscious decision in the summer to change the standard on both fronts.
“Officials need to be better at reacting to the play where there is a foul and then the player who is fouled embellishes. They were told at (summer) camp that we have to be stronger in the enforcement of this call.”
Senators players figure it will take some time for both them and the referees to figure out exactly how much interference will be tolerated. Alfredsson acknowledges the new rules make it tougher for defencemen to defend, but as time passes, he says players will discover the fine line between what’s fair and what’s a foul.
from Kerry Fraser of TSN,
As we move through the third week of the NHL season, there have been a number of incidents involving contact with the goalkeeper. Some resulted in penalties being assessed or goals disallowed, while in other cases the contact was deemed incidental and goals were allowed to stand.
I acknowledge, as most of you have, that this call can really be a tough one for any referee to correctly make given the speed and traffic jams that occur as players crash the net. I have harped on the fact that Referees' positioning and the resulting sightline gained is the overriding factor in making the correct judgment. In too many instances the Refs are not reading the play in advance and moving their feet to gain the best possible sightline. This is a "bread and butter" call for NHL Referees that can impact a game similarly to pass interference in the end zone of an NFL game or Super Bowl! There needs to be better instruction/accountability from the Officiating Department in this critical area before the shortened NHL season gets any shorter.
Let me provide you with my ruling on the two goalkeeper interference penalties that were called on Super Bowl Sunday in the Ottawa-Montreal game.
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.
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