Kukla's Korner Hockey
by Paul on 09/03/05 at 09:57 AM ET
For a decade, the NHL watched its relationship with its players plunge to precarious depths. The distrust was the footing on which professional sports' longest work stoppage was built. Meanwhile, the relationship between the league and its officials quietly eroded in a similar fashion. Under van Hellemond, who had fired 20 officials during his four years in charge only to see nine of them reclaim their jobs through an appeal process, officials were working scared. They didn't trust the supervisory system allegedly put in place to help them hone their craft. They didn't trust a league that demanded officials crack down on obstruction, yet second-guessed them behind the scenes for calling too many penalties. And they surely didn't trust their league-appointed boss, van Hellemond, who many officials complained had approached them for loans over the years.
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