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Saturday, September 11, 2010

Miracle Off Ice?

This has certainly been an off-season to remember (or forget, depending on how you look at it).  From the obvious absurdities of the Kovalchuk fiasco and the CBA posturing, to the Shanahan Summit and the scam Don Fehr is pulling on the NHLPA, this continues to be a very eventful few months off the ice.

Now to top it off, according to The Hockey News, the NHL Official's Association may go on strike with less than 2 weeks to go before the pre-season schedule starts.  The NHL head office seems to be concerned enough about this to contact minor league officials in the AHL and ECHL about the possibility of them becoming "scab" referees in the event of a strike.

Lets be honest, NHL officials, as a whole, suck.  Game after game they blow important calls that are obvious to anyone else even slightly paying attention.  The league and the media constantly have to make excuses as to why supposedly intelligent human beings can't see when a puck has crossed a line, an elbow met with someones head, or a goalie 30 feet out of his crease isn't called for obstruction after he bumps into an opposing player facing away from him (Roloson/Holmstrom, 2006 playoffs, look it up).  Could you imagine being so bad at your job that your boss had to make excuses to your clientele as to why they keep you around?

The truth is, they don't blow these calls by accident.  The league has made it perfectly clear that they give their refs instructions on a nightly basis on how calls should be made, and then critique their performance after every game.  If these instructions didn't include making bad calls to help one side over the other, or even just to keep a game close for ratings sake, then I would have to believe that these refs would be fired left and right for poor job performance, but thats just not happening.  The refs have become pawns for the NHL agenda of league-wide parity, and up until this point, they have done it willingly.

And if the hold up on the CBA agreement between the NHL and the NHLOA was because the refs had simply grown tired of beings pawns and scapegoats, I would understand and respect them for their stance.  However, the real reason for the delay is the definition of irony.  Here is a quote from an anonymous minor league official on the issue:

"The guys say the supervisor will tell them one thing in the dressing room after the game then file something else with the league and the guys don’t have access to that,” he said. “The guys feel like they’re walking on egg shells all the time.”

So let me get this straight.  The group who's every action is the epitome of inconsistency, who make calls on the ice according to some ever-shifting standard that no player has been able to figure out since the lockout, which constantly keeps the players, coaches, and GM's guessing at how to play the game, is upset because the league is telling them their evaluation is going to go one way, and when it actually goes the other, they aren't allowed to know why?!?!


Sorry, that was uncalled for.  But how often do you get to see such a pure example of sweet irony?  I don't know if minor league refs are any better than NHL officials, but I would welcome any change that includes these clowns being removed from the ice.  Please NHLOA, go on strike for a long, long time.  And if it wouldn't be too much trouble, take Bettman, Daly, Campbell, Gregson, and the entire NHL head office with you.  Load them all up in the clown car, take a last lap around the center ring, and then leave the tent to the delight of all in attendance.  This circus needs to leave town.

I leave you with 2 of my favorite referee faux pas in recent history:

1.  A WTF! moment that cost Brad May what would have been the only goal he would have scored that season

2.  And the perfect example of refs making things up as they go along when things don't go the way the NHL scripted

The call on the ice, isn't the call on the ice?1?!?!  How do they get away with this stuff in broad daylight?

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