Kukla's Korner Hockey
by George Malik on 04/27/12 at 06:30 AM ET
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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