Crank’s Corner – Q&A

30 Apr

Two NHL Referees

"Two Zebras surveying the game they're about to ruin." - Crank

The Crank takes time out of his busy schedule (yelling at the ducks in the park and trying to teach his dog to bark at that neighbour he doesn’t like) to answer your questions/comments/email about his Last Column.

Your last article was typical “my era was better than yours” bullshit. This is hockey now. Maybe youd like the players to stop wearing their helmets?

NO, this has nothing to do with ” eras “. I happen to think that the hockey being played now is the best of all time. My main gripe is and has always been that the main shortcoming of the NHL is the officiating. It is an embarrassment to be the best league in the world at your sport, the ”showcase ” for professional hockey, and have officials who can’t show enough consistency to make the same call on two basically identical plays. There are many reasons for this but the main one is the NHL itself has pretty much stifled any criticism of the chosen few they deem good enough to officiate their product. They fine anyone who dares to question a call in any way other than a roundabout statement, i.e. ”I didn’t see it that way “.
They allow the referees to decide when an infraction is or isn’t a penalty, based on many different factors like what the score is; who the guilty party is; who the recipient of the infraction is; what the time in the game is; is the team already shorthanded; do they “owe you one ” for a previous bad call; do they “owe you one ” for a previously missed call; what the penalty count in the game is (they seem to think that as long as the count is close they have done a good job) and the list goes on and on.

This leeway granted the men in stripes is unfortunate for many reasons, but the most significant is that it allows them to be instrumental in determining the outcome of the games. This means that not only playoff match ups are changed, but actually making or not making the playoffs can be determined, especially in today’s NHL where positions are often not known until after the final whistle in the final game (read: PHILLY and NYR last season). This also spills over all the way to actually affecting the individual performances of the players themselves. With the number of power play goals being scored each year, imagine the change as a result of two or three (and I’m being conservative) different calls per game. The scoring race is affected, the goalies stats are affected and as a result all of the major individual trophies are affected, not to mention the individual contracts of the players themselves. Many have bonus clauses for reaching certain levels of achievement.

Bring it home Crank…..we won’t have time for any more questions!

So this has nothing to do with which era of hockey you like more, as this has been the case in the league for as long as I’ve been watching hockey. What it deals with is the inability of the officials to do their job in an unbiased and fair, just way. A penalty is a penalty whether the score is 10-0 or 1-1, whether it is 8:04 in the first or 19:55 of the third, whether it is 5 on 5 or 5 on 3,etc. It would appear that the league has even instructed the networks to limit their criticism of these employees in stripes as you rarely if ever hear anything but occasional mild questioning of a call from the numerous analysts on the many different shows. Even the “decider of discipline” himself, Colin Campbell, shows no consistency in his handing out of suspensions. Because of this you have the best player in hockey sitting out three months of the regular season and the playoffs because the league didn’t want to tarnish their “showcase” called the winter classic by handing out a suspension for the infraction that was seen over and over by true fans for what it was,a cheap shot, but handed out countless games after that hit for deeds no more vicious.

My plea would be to the so called hockey experts like Bob McKenzie, Dave Hodge, Don Cherry, Ron Maclean, and all the other numerous panelists on the shows to show some balls and unlike the referees, call ‘em as ya see ‘em. Lets start holding these employees accountable for their incompetence, or admit that they are only following the leagues mandate by calling the games as they are told.

If, after doubling their staff per game, a player carrying the puck can lose two teeth and leave the ice bleeding from a high stick, and no penalty is called, then what the fuck is going on? Oh yeah, his team was leading 6-0 and he had reemed out the ref earlier for another missed call.

There you have it, who would have thought that the subject of referees would have set The Crank off on such a rant. I guess all of us. Until next time!

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