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Conspiracy theory and the return of obstruction, interference and bafflingly uncalled infractions

The Vancouver Province’s Tony Gallagher offers up quite the conspiracy theory this morning, and while you and I might not agree that the NHL is actively conspiring against the Vancouver Canucks and/or any and all teams which do not espouse Boston Bruins-style pugnaciousness and an ability to keep up with clutch-and-grab style hockey, but Gallagher makes a very astute point in suggesting that, somewhere around the time the Bruins and Canucks renewed acquaintances on January 7th, the NHL’s referees seemed to conveniently forget how to call obstruction penalties, and are now—with perhaps the exception of games in which Gary Bettman’s in attendance—very obviously letting go not just the “chintzy stuff,” but also very blatantly flagrant offenses, and we’re at the point where playoff goals have resulted from said non-calls:

Whatever you might believe to be the cause, the defending Cup champion Bruins and Canucks both went on something of a downhill slide from that month on, as did the other two teams in the conference finals last year, although it happened earlier for them. What happened to these teams in question, fatigue or whatever, is one question. What happened with the league is another.

For instance, was that the point at which the officials got the directive to pretty much stop calling penalties? — because really, that’s what’s happened. Suddenly skill took a back seat to all the ailments that crushed the game just before the lockout when ESPN essentially told the league we’re not putting your telecasts on our network.

The league came out of the lockout and improved the product, but something seemed to happen this year that has thrown them right back into the dark ages. Did league officials look at that Boston-Vancouver game and think, if we stop calling penalties we’re going to have many more games like that? Did they feel they could generate that type of intensity by putting away the whistles and letting emotions take over?

Continue reading for some serious, and I quote “Now in the league talent counts for nothing, size and abrasiveness is everything” strangeness…

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Chet's avatar

i’ve had center ice for years, and i’ll sit around and watch games even after i’ve deleted another depressing february wings loss to [insert whoever] from my dvr. it’s true that they started majorly ignoring obstruction around dec.-jan.

as a wings fan, i’ve always just accepted that once playoff races heat up, “that’s how they want it,” so far as the league goes. isn’t anything else just being a crybaby? paging brian burke…

i respect the author for this paragraph especially, and have thought for years that mike ilitch must be hopping mad about how the NHL has applied the rules to marginalize his [very good] team:

Now in the league talent counts for nothing, size and abrasiveness is everything. That’s why Alex Ovechkin and Alexander Semin play less than than Jay Beagle and the majority of the Washington forwards and yet their team still wins, to the applause of the media who don’t seem to be noticing these trends. That’s why Marian Hossa, Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane and Patrick Sharp are out of the playoffs. That’s why Sidney Crosby, Jordan Staal, Evgeni Malkin and the Penguins are on the sidelines. Ditto Henrik Zetterberg, Pavel Datsyuk Nick Lidstrom and the Detroit Red Wings, Joe Thornton, Patrick Marleau and the Sharks, and the Sedin twins, Ryan Kesler and the Vancouver Canucks.

OK, there has to be some competitive balance and it will swing, but admit that’s a ballsy paragraph. admit that the wings have a better chance of winning a skill-dominated game in november than in april…but where does that get us? it comes down to one of two things:

1) the league has a double standard that applies at certain times of year to ensure chippy, gritty playoff series with teams that viewers haven’t necessarily seen recently (oh, and they might goon it up and win!);

2) teams fail to adapt to their surroundings at certain times of year. see: detroit.

if the NHL wants to sell violence and mayhem, teams like detroit and vancouver as they’re incarnated obv. have no chance. parity is one thing. rigging it is another. but again: isn’t this a game of adaptation?

(disclaimer: my honest belief is that obstruction or whatever HAS to be the same in october or april, or what the *#$%@& kind of league are you scumbags running? there.)

Posted by Chet from twitter: thegansen on 04/27/12 at 08:14 AM ET

Rdwings28's avatar

The most talented forward left in the Western Conference playoffs might be Andy McDonald. Or maybe Alexander Radulov. Not even worth slamming their heads into the glass.

Read more: http://www.theprovince.com/sports/rough+stuff+trump+skill+since+Canucks+Bruins+rematch+January/6525975/story.html#ixzz1tEuvubbu

Oh, goodness, best finish to an article all year.

Posted by Rdwings28 on 04/27/12 at 09:34 AM ET

Vladimir16's avatar

The only thing that is consistant with the NHL is their inconsistency.

Posted by Vladimir16 from Grand River Valley on 04/27/12 at 10:27 AM ET


So Andy MacDonald is more talented than the likes of Anze Kopitar and Mike Richards? All this article is to me is nothing more than moaning and groaning because the Canucks lost. Instead of working out with Gary Roberts in the summer maybe NHL players should do what the Canucks do and take theatrical lessons on how to dive and embellish calls. THAT is what is ruining the sport. Not a more physical and defensively dominated playoffs. The fact is, the teams that lost out in the first round all won with stifling defensive systems and excellent goaltending.

Posted by Chau on 04/27/12 at 12:10 PM ET

Chet's avatar

maybe true, but that’s boring. and it shouldn’t work better to play like that in april than it does in november.

Posted by Chet from twitter: thegansen on 04/27/12 at 06:32 PM 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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