Entries with the tag: officiating
The NHL has a not-so-pretty track record of going overboard comes to rule changes; in the past, they either made rules that seemed nonsensical (whoever thought a two-line pass would be a good rule?) or they wound up mucking up their own rules with crazy flowcharts of “if-then” statements for interpretation. Case in point—the ever-popular intent-to-blow rule.
It seems like just about every team has been screwed out of at least one goal with the whole intent-to-blow debacle, and it’s not getting any better. When we came out of the lockout, the first few years were all about rainbows and harmony when it came to the rules. The “new” NHL (with a logo going UP instead of down!) and the “new” rules (actually, just the old rules finally being called) made everyone as happy as Luke Skywalker buying power converters.
I’ll leave the rant about the return of obstruction for a more appropriate time, like the playoffs. I think we all know everyone’s big complaint is the whole intent-to-blow rule, and it makes me think back to the late 1990s when skates in the crease were all the rage.
I might be in the minority here, but I support the idea behind the “intent to blow the whistle” rule. Refs are human and that means that they need to take time, however minuscule it is, to comprehend what they’re seeing, grab the whistle, and blow it. That part makes sense.
That being said, I think last night’s Brad May no-goal was a pretty spectacular job of backpedaling by the league. The problem with a rule based around something intangible like intent is that there’s no real way to quantify it. When you take intent and interpretation and third-party input, there’s no way it can come out clean. Because of that, close (or in May’s case, not so close) calls get tossed into this gray area where nothing good comes out of it.
But maybe there’s a way to add a little black-and-white to that gray area. Cue up your Thomas Dolby LP here.
I haven’t written too much on the Cup final as Tony and the Chief carry their respective flags pretty well, and most of the other media attention is thoroughly covered on the main KK page. That doesn’t mean I haven’t watched, though, and I think we can all agree on the fact that the officiating’s gotten worse as the playoffs have gone on.
There was a time after the lockout when it wasn’t like this. If you’ll recall the 2006 Final with Carolina and Edmonton, the level of officiating wasn’t at the regular season level, but fairly close.
Instead, this has gotten to a point where the refs (and their overseer, Stephen Walkom) have established a precedant and now they can’t seem to go back on it. Interference, hooking, cross-checking, all of it goes uncalled by both teams except for either really blatant fouls or random “statement” calls.
Obviously, you’re going to get officiating complaints from fans involved with any playoff series. Maybe the magic powers of the internet have made them all the more vocal, but I get the sense that people are more disgruntled with officiating than in previous years. And I know I’ve seen more mainstream articles calling out the officiating in previous years. The fact that ref complaints are so loud and so numerous, not only in the typical fan situation but as observations from general hockey media, seemingly points to a desire for the standard to be upheld. In other words, as much as there’s support for the notion of “let the boys play,” ultimately, most people want the rules to be called.
I’ll say that again in hopes that Walkom is somehow paying attention: ultimately, most people want the rules to be called.
Ok, so now comes a report that Brenden Shanahan and members of the competition committee were pretty darn close to recommending 4-on-4 playoff overtime following one OT period. Keep in mind that competition committee recommendations don’t automatically get installed in the game as they’ve got to pass Board of Governors approval first.
Still, the fact that the people on the committee—a collection of players and hockey personnel—gave changing overtime such a long look is really disturbing. I try to be open-minded and progressive when it comes to the game but changing playoff overtime falls squarely in the idiotic category.
Here’s something that might be easier. In fact, it’d probably prevent a lot of games going to overtime in the first place, and it’d level the playing field for every team.
Call the damn penalties.
It’s become a running gag among hockey fans that the rules in the first half of the season don’t apply in the second half of the season. Now things have been noticeably better since the lockout but there was still a tendency to drift come February and March when it came to how strict the rules were being called, especially in the final minutes of the third period.
I’ve always been a big proponent of letting the players play—and by that, I mean calling the rules consistently so that the players with the most skill and work ethic won’t be bogged down by someone bear-hugging him to the ice. Why some people continue to assume that allowing clutching and grabbing is “letting the players play”, I’ll never understand but I’m pretty sure a guy named Mario Lemieux would like to debate that point.
In any case, this season’s officiating seems to have gone through its own little rollercoaster when it comes to quality. It was business as usual up until about January, then things started to slip. For the bulk of February, things were really bad, and—at least from my observations—things seem to have swung back towards more strict officiating over the past two weeks or so.