Topper wrote:Be careful what you ask for.
It is clear that NHL Officials are asked to manage the game, or in Kerry Fraser's parlance, "take the temperature of the game".
We have all watched and enjoyed fast hard hitting games with continuous action where the Officials allow a certain degree of interference/roughing/cross checking/boarding. A face wash post whistle becomes standard for the game. Commentators revel in the "playoff atmosphere" of these games. Penalties are rare but called on overly blatant ones involving a scoring chance.
Contrast that with something like the Canucks-Flames game to finish the season. Westgarth gets 2 minutes for skating for too long towards the Vancouver net after a whistle. the Officials call it two minutes for roughing, but essentially it is two minutes for being a jerkKevin Westgarth. The Official was setting the tone for the game. The last game of the season between two rivals but non playoff teams with nothing to gain or loose.
Flames fans were incensed by the call, more so when Vancouver capitalised on their power play. This was however a case of the Officials managing the game. A message to both benches that post whistle nonsense was not going to be tolerated or allowed to escalate.
I have little issue with allowing the Officials to manage a game this way. What it means is that a penalty in one game may not be one the next game. Inconsistency will happen. Players and coaches are smart enough to know how the night will go and play accordingly....
The "management" by the officials that you are talking about here is the kind that belongs in the game and on the ice. That kind of message sending to the teams is important when it comes to preventing stupidity on the part of players and coaches.....the kind of stupidity that leads to dirty hits and injuries late in a game. Particularly games that mean jack shit. But I would suggest that it is equally as important to "manage" the game in this way regardless of the gravity of the individual contest.
I would argue that sending the message to just one team, the way they did to Westgarth, is perhaps a poor way to do it. As an official, give coincidentals for a nothing incident, go to the benches and warn both teams that next time you'll take just one and award a PP. This eliminates the possibility of one team scoring a PP goal on a man advantage that was really unwarranted. If the coaches and players want to test the ref's resolve, so be it, hand out a single penalty to prove your point.
The "howling over non-calls" that occurs is rarely the result of any inconsistency in the above "game management" on the part of the officiating crew. It is the inconsistency of the obstruction calls, the interference, holding, slashing, tripping, boarding, charging, and goaltender interference. These are rules that the officiating crew seems to enforce in what can only be considered a haphazard fashion at times. The game to game inconsistencies can be excused when you are dealing with different officiating crews from night to night, however, what one ref calls a penalty in the first 10 minutes should still be called a penalty in the last 10 minutes of the same game. Granted, in a game that is as fast paced as the NHL is, there will invariably be calls that are simply missed due to human error and the fact that the referee's are outnumbered 5 to 1 (linesman not included). This leads to the argument for off-ice officials.
In my opinion there is absolutely no reason for the league not to adopt a "coach's challenge" as well as a pair of off-ice officials. The challenge argument stands for itself, but instead of being charged a timeout just go the route of the delay-of-game penalty that is assessed when a team challenges whether or not a player is using a stick with an illegal curve (if that's even still around). The off-ice official argument has always been dismissed as being something that would slow down the pace of the game. This is simply not the case. I think that Milan Lucic made a very good case for the need for a referee to be off the ice, and watching things more closely with the advantage of replay, when he speared DeKeyser in the nuts in game one. That was a penalty that absolutely should have been called, in fact I think it should have been 5 and a game according to rules 62.3 and 62.5, but it was also a case where the officiating crew is absolutely excused for missing the call as it was behind the play and took place in about half of a second. In this case an off-ice official would have seen it and made the appropriate ruling. I also don't think that off-ice officials would slow the game down at all if the system were in place where these officials were only there to enforce calls like this, infractions of a dangerous nature that were behind the play or simply missed, or penalties behind the play that directly effected a scoring play. These officials would also not have a whistle, they would simply be assessing the penalties at the next normal stoppage in play and, as long as that stoppage was not a goal being scored by the offending team, play would continue from the same clock-time as the normal stoppage in question.
The other "howling" is simply the inconsistency in the suspensions and discipline that is handed down to players after the fact. 8 games to Kassian for "reckless swinging of his stick" as he went for a hit and did a spin stop on the boards that every player makes.....1 game for Keith when he intentionally swung his stick at Jeff Carter's head in a retaliatory move.....5 games for Keith when he threw a flying elbow and Daniel and knocked him out for the remainder of the regular season and first few games of the first round of the playoffs.....1 game for Giroux for an obviously intentional shoulder to the head of Zubrus.....1 game for Backstrom for a calculated and intentional crosscheck to the head of Rich Peverley.....1 game for Klesla after he grabs the back of Halischuk's jersey and then throws him head first into the boards.....0 games to Lucic for running Miller.....3 games for Shaw for his "hit" on Mike Smith.....1 game to James Neal for 2 hits on Coutourier and Giroux.....0 games for Weber for grabbing Zetterberg's head and slamming it into the glass.....
Those are just a few of the reasons that fans "howl".....those aren't on-ice problems or "game management" that's league management that makes no sense.