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Before Bylsma gets the hook, the officials deserve a drubbing

The CBC's Hotstove Tonight gang stated the obvious regarding Pittsburgh Penguins coach Dan Bylsma on Saturday night--if he is fired, he'll be able to " write his own ticket" to Dallas, Vancouver, or the bright lights of New York. The New York Post's Larry Brooks reports that Mario Lemieux might pull the plug on Bylsma (and Marc-Andre Fleury), he reveals that Ryane Clowe may or may not have played his way through three concussions during the regular season and playoffs, and he says that Marek Zidlicky may replace Mark Streit on Long Island as the outgoing captain looks for a $6 million payday...

But I'm subbing for the boss on what is either a late night or early morning, and as this is more than a slight pet peeve of mine, I'm going to let you read Brooks' scoops on your own and offer his take on the grab-and-grope-fest that's become the 2013 playoffs instead:

Look, the Bruins are a very good, very tough and extremely strong-willed group that has used the NHL’s vanishing standards of officiating to their benefit. And why wouldn’t they?

The playoffs in both conferences have been dominated by the holding, hooking, and off-the-puck fouling the league once vowed to eradicate, but now accepts as a matter of unstated policy, with the amount of legal interference increasing incrementally by the round.

Perhaps there is a phone call or a memo from Gary Bettman to Colin Campbell on the subject the NSA might be able to provide us with.

It’s mind-numbing, the volume of 1-0, 2-0 and 2-1 games. In 2003 and 2004, the two years before Owners’ Lockout II produced new-era rules to open up the game in conjunction with the imposition of the hard salary cap, there were a total of 40 games in which the winning team scored two goals or fewer.

Over the last two years, through Friday night, there have been 45 games in which the winning team failed to score as many as three goals, and, no, not all of them involved the Rangers.

Yes, it is true, you can have a truly great 2-1 game, as was Game 7 of the Rangers-Devils epochal 1994 Eastern finals. But not 45 of them, not when they’re played every night, not when there is no space on the ice and no time in which to use it, not when no one can score.

There have been moments of high drama, but few instances of sustained interest. And too many botched calls to believe they’re primarily a matter of omission rather than an issue of policy.

Yup. And we all know that, come next October, the officials will have been instructed to call any hook, hold, tug, push, punch and/or dirty look and/or impure thought...And it will all degenerate as the holiday season approaches, there will be a renewed interest in calling penalties either immediately before or immediately after the Olympics (no All-Star Game next season unless something goes horribly wrong in Olympic negotiations between the NHL, the International Ice Hockey Federation and the International Olympic Committee), and come playoff time, they'll call stuff for the first half of the first round...

Until, slowly but surely, teams that can check their opponents to death will benefit more and more from a "let 'em play, even if it's rugby on ice" philosophy that is sure to once again dominate playoff discussion a year from now--mostly because the only way goals happen these days involve either catastrophic breakdowns in defensive coverage or blatant penalties that are let be.

Brooks continues, addressing the aforementioned topics.

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Hank1974's avatar

I couldn’t agree more.
I’m still shaking my head over the non-call when Marchand blew up a back-checking Kris Letang when the Bruins were on a 2-on-0.
Or how about the blatantly obvious Jagr hook that led to the GWG in game 3?

Brooks has it right in that the Bruins are a very talented, deep, well coached team.
Nobody can disagree with that.

However, in a land of no rules, the team that can cheat the best will always triumph.
That’s why the Bruins will win in 4 or 5 games.
With a proper standard, I still think the Bruins could win in 6 or 7, but with how the game is being called right now, the Hawks have no shot.

Posted by Hank1974 on 06/09/13 at 07:08 AM ET

Evilpens's avatar

.(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) Don’t be so sure about B’s Beating the Hawks

The Pens were Horribly prepared, Coached & no adjustments at all

Bylsma Never gives credit to the opposing team that beats them it is always some version of the inanity “We didn’t get to our game” the Press in NYC will eat him alive about the 3rd time he uses that BS line
Or another one he used before game 7 against Montreal “who’s going to wear the cape” or his Shootout practice Mustache Boy contests

Posted by Evilpens on 06/09/13 at 08:30 AM ET

Thag's avatar

Seriously, can you really blame 2 goals in 4 games on the refs?

Posted by Thag from DC on 06/09/13 at 09:21 AM ET

WingsFanInBeanLand's avatar

I also find it amusing that they don’t call out the pen9i)s for doing the same.  They were just as guilty of the “subtle” and not so subtle interference yet no one seems to mention it.

Go Bruins.

Posted by WingsFanInBeanLand from where free agents no longer dare. on 06/09/13 at 09:53 AM ET


Yeah! Seriously. The refereeing in the Hockey League SUCKS! Big Time. Any idiot knows that the dirtiest team will always come out on top. What the Flyers did to the Pens last year was proof enough for me. The games look like kids in a playground playing against a bunch of bullies. Shame on the league for allowing it, and BOO! to the hockey fans (probably bullies themselves) who think its OK and make excuses for it. Take a lesson from the Football league, before someone gets seriously hurt or gets killed. This is my message to all the dumb ass fans who disagree. Morons! Did you ever see Brady get jumped on in Patriot football games?

Posted by Ugeneck on 06/09/13 at 12:29 PM ET

awould's avatar

My guess is the refs will pull out their whistles. Bettman’s new love is in Chicago.

Posted by awould on 06/09/13 at 12:54 PM ET

Jaromir Blogger's avatar

The lax playoff officiating first struck me in the 2009 Stanley Cup Final. There was no way the Penguins would have won that series had it been called as all prior series had been. Once they realized they could clutch and grab to their hearts’ content, the immobile Pens defense was finally able to slow down the Wings’ offense. But kudos to Bylsma, et al for recognizing that and making the adjustment better than Babcock did.

Posted by Jaromir Blogger on 06/10/13 at 03:08 AM ET


Seriously, can you really blame 2 goals in 4 games on the refs?

Exactly this.

I also find it amusing that they don’t call out the pen9i)s for doing the same.  They were just as guilty of the “subtle” and not so subtle interference yet no one seems to mention it.

Yea, the games weren’t called tight, but the bruins weren’t the only ones taking liberties (see game one).

My beef with this whole discussion is this: when has playoff hockey ever been called tight? Most hockey fans will tell you that playoff hockey is the best sport in the world, and the refs have always let some minor stuff go. they’ve been “putting the whistle away” for as long as i can remember. And personally, I love it that. I love that sometimes desire, dedication, hard work, sacrifice, and intimidation can can overcome pure skill. I want to see which team wants it more.

I don’t really think the officiating has been worse this year than any other i can remember. There are always questionable or missed calls, and the fans/writers for the teams those calls go against kick and scream about it. And it’s perfectly understandable, we’re fans because we care - usually a lot - and writers have jobs because they write about things that are interesting/compelling to their readers. Every time a couple calls go one way or the other, or an underdog beats a team that’s perceived as more skilled, we get an article like this. I’m guilty of it too, but refs have a hard job (I’m less forgiving of the disciplinary people, they have 100 angles of instant of footage to work with and all the time they need… but hey, at least they are telling us some explanation about how came to the conclusion they did now…a few years ago all we got was basically “cuz we say so”.)

Sorry for the rant.


Posted by Stza on 06/10/13 at 09:57 AM ET

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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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