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Old 06-16-2004, 07:01 PM   #1
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Join Date: Jun 2004
Location: NJ
Posts: 132
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Default Dare I go there....will the NHL ever change?

Well another season has come and gone. The talk of obstruction and holding coming to an end is about as likely of happening as a hard cap. As a frustrated Flyers fan (and every other Philly sports team) I have to wonder if the NHL will ever fix what I consider the worst part of the sport....the referees.

I never understood why referees in the NHL have no accountability. You can't comment on any of their calls without a fine, it seems like they will never say they made a wrong call.

My best example would have to be from this season. The Flyers were playing the Dallas Stars. The Flyers had just lost possession of the puck in the Dallas zone and so Donald Brasher and two Dallas Stars were heading back down the ice. They were about 3 feet from Turco very close together. One of the Dallas players went to turn around to head up ice, as he made a quick turn he swung his stick around, nailing his FELLOW DALLAS teammate in the head. His teammate, not knowing what just happened, did the normally song and dance every player does when a stick makes contact to their head. He cocked his head quickly like he just took a punch from the heavyweight champ, and went down to he knees. During this entire time Basher's stick was on the ice, it never left the ice. One of the referees, turning around just as the Dallas player goes to his knees, sees Brasher, and instantly calls a penalty. As 20,000 Flyers fan boo and watch the replay on the jumbotron, Brashers pleas fall upon deaf ears. The Flyers managed to escape the penalty without yeilding a goal, but they never should have been down to begin with. The Dallas player was hit by his own teammate, yet Brasher was given the penalty, simply because there was a Dallas player going to his knees holding his head. I don't know what goes on behind closed doors, but I know I never saw that referee come out in the post game and say he was wrong. I doubt the league did anything to him.

Personally, I feel that ever since the NHL went to a 2 referee system that the consistency of officiating in the NHL has gotten worse. There are too many young refs, most of which I believe call too many penalties. I am a firm believer if you call a penalty at one end of the ice, you must call it the exact same way at the other end, no matter if there are 15 minutes left in the period or 85 seconds left in the 3rd with a tied game. I believe referees who attempt to call every penalty they see hurt the game. Most calls are borderline to begin with. A slight hook, slight obstruction etc etc. When a referee gives out 5 penalties in the first 10 minutes of the game for little things that could go either way it is inevidable that those SMALL BORDERLINE calls he is making will start to be missed. One team gets penalized 3 times for slight hooks, yet they see their own players getting "slightly hooked" the exact same way and no call is being made. Apparently the referee does not believe those hooks to be penalties. There comes the borderline judgement consistency problem.

Kerry Fraser tends to call games fairly loosely. As long as the game is under control he won't call a penalty unless it is obvious. He doesn't tend to nit pick little things, he lets the players play. Then comes Bill McCreary, who, while he DOES call the game the same at both ends, he tends to call everything, borderline and anything around that. If you are only calling obvious penalties, chances are you will see 90% of those. If you are calling every little borderline call, you are probably only calling 50% of them, because you can't possibly see EVERY BORDLINER call. So most nights, there is one team who is on the PK much more then the other team, simply because the ref is calling EVERY LITTLE THING, but he doesn't see EVERY LITTLE THING, he is only calling every little thing that he finds.

Even worse is when you have a game where both McCreary and Fraser are reffing. Kerry Fraser is standing in the corner behind the net, the players are battling, one player gets knocked down from behind. Fraser makes no call, because it wasn't dangerous or dirty, the players were simply battling for the puck. Yet 100 ft away at center ice McCreary will call that penalty. Personally, I've seen way too many penalties called by the referee standing 100ft away at center ice, while the referee who is standing 3 ft away makes no call, probably because the referee standing right there has a better perspective. That kind of refereeing, where the refs call the game differently, makes it terrible for the players since they have no idea what is or is not a penalty. One team gets penalized for hooking, yet 5 minutes later the team that just was penalized for hooking sees their own teammate getting hooked in the same way, but no call. There is no consistency.

I could probably go on forever about how big the referees are suckers for the high stick. I've seen players have a stick come within 2 inches of their face, it never actually touches them, but their natural reaction is to jerk their head back, either to protect themselve, or trying to accentuate what they believe is going to be a high stick. Either way, despite the fact the stick never makes contact with the head, the ref sees a stick in the air near the players head, and they see the players head jerk, so they call a penalty even though the player was never hit.

On the same token, one game the Flyers had just taken a penalty for high sticking. A fair call. However a few minutes later, Roenick is hit in the face with a stick and is completely bloodied. A referee is standing 5 feet away from him as he is hit in the face, Roenick is screaming, blood dripping down his face, yet no penalty is called. The ref tells him dryly "I didn't see it.". Standing 5 feet away and he didnt' see it so there is no penalty. Personally, it's the referees job to see it, so he should either be fired (like the union would allow that) or he should be fined for poor performance (again, will never happen).

The fact that the best referees get to officiate the playoffs is kind of pointless, since the regular season and the playoffs might as well be considered two completely different planets, since the officiating changes so much in the playoffs. You will almost never see the borderline calls in the playoffs that you see half a dozen times a night in the regular season. Once again, no consistency.

So we come back to the all mighty accountability. The referees have none. They continue to be suckers for cheap calls, yet are so inconsistant it makes the game worse to watch, and I must believe worse for the players to play. While the NFL Officials can claim at 95%+ accuracy rate....the NHL is easily FAR behind. Any given game there are probably 2-3 that should have been made, at least 1 call that should be not, and probably 2-3 borderline calls. I dunno, maybe its just me. Or maybe there is a reason why hockey is the least watched major sport.


Last edited by StealthElephant; 06-16-2004 at 07:09 PM.
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