Thursday, June 15, 2006

More on Game 5

Upon some extensive highlights viewing and sombre (or is that sober?) reflection, this wasn’t “a great, great game.” It wasn’t even a great game.

What it was, however, was nail-biting and fairly decent entertainment — as soon as you could get past the phantom penalty calls thrown in the mix. Hockey Night in Canada’s Ron MacLean has been mercilessly pummelled in some circles for how he acted and the questions he asked in his Game 4 interview with hockey disciplinarian Colin Campbell (see video here), but at least someone on high is refuting this silliness.

Of the 15 penalties called in Game 5, two thirds were of the hooking/holding/tripping variety and some were downright awful calls. They simply were. And, no, it’s not an indictment of the sport or either of the teams playing to say that.

Players may still be ‘making adjustments’ (as the apologists claim), but if any teams were going to have learned from what was called this season, it should be Edmonton and Carolina, who’ve both now played more than 100 games that count under the new standard.

I’m more on the side of MacLean and Tom Benjamin on this issue, as we need to have at least some critical, impartial voices when poor calls are made. (On the flipside, when referees do a good job in a game — as has happened at times these playoffs — that also deserves mention.) As I’ve said before, too often the ‘analysis’ of the new officiating standard hasn’t fallen all that far from outright cheerleading.

That said, I like that more stick fouls are being called because there really isn’t any scenario where a defending player needs to have his lumber touching an opponent. Still, a zero tolerance approach is leading to far too many non-penalties being whistled down and traditionally poor referees being lauded as top of the class.

That doesn't work for me.


At 4:43 p.m., June 15, 2006, Blogger Matt Saler said...

I, for one, thought Ron did great in that interview. He asked a lot of questions I've wanted to ask and I was mostly disappointed with Campbell's responses.

Was this year meant to be a 100% fix of whatever problems people perceived there to be with the game? I didn't think so. I thought some things were implemented with the idea that they'd be tweaked as actual use dictated.

At 4:51 p.m., June 15, 2006, Anonymous Chris DeGroat said...

If there isn't "any scenario where a defending player needs to have his lumber touching an opponent" then why shouldn't there be a zero tollerance policy?

I understand wanting less penalties called, but it's not the league's fault that after 100 games these guys still haven't figure out how to defend without putting their sticks in the midsection of their opponents.

Although... I will say that I have no clue why Mick McGeough was chosen to be an official in the playoffs at all, let alone the Finals. He is awful.

At 4:52 p.m., June 15, 2006, Blogger ninja said...

Funny, I thought the officiating was far worse up in Edmonton.

At 6:16 p.m., June 15, 2006, Anonymous Greg said...

It's not that the players haven't adjusted - they clearly have. Has the quantity of penalties being called gone down? I don't think it has appreciably.

The mandate from the league was to keep calling penalties at the same rate late in the season and into the playoffs as early in the season. What's the result of that?

Stuff that wasn't being called early in the year now HAS to be called, just so the ref can make his quota - otherwise his job is on the line. All because the players have adjusted quite well.

Next time you see a forward dump the puck around a defenceman and then chase it down unimpeded, ask yourself if that would be possible if the players hadn't adjusted.

At 9:12 p.m., June 15, 2006, Anonymous DK said...

In the playoffs I have rarely seen the forward chase a dumped puck unimpeded. And even more rare is an interference penalty as a result.

The standards have laxed and the players are taking advantage. But the spirit of the new rules is still there, opening up the game and making for an exciting Cup run. Personally, it's nice to see the big hits back as players aren't afraid they'll end up in the box.

At 2:19 a.m., June 16, 2006, Anonymous jon said...

I think a major problem is the inconsistency of the calls in order to fit with the traditional method of playoff officiating. Period 1, everyone gets good calls, bad calls, and phantom calls. Period 3, team with less penalties gets called for anything and everything, but the other team gets no calls even on blatant infractions.

As for the Campbell interview, I think the obvious possibility that Ron didn't suggest is making shooting the puck over the glass exactly like icing. Make it a F/O in the defensive zone, without allowing the offending team to make a line change. I mean, the reasoning behind the penalty is essentially the same as icing. It can be seen as a step backward in some ways, but I think it makes more sense.

At 4:45 p.m., June 16, 2006, Blogger beezee05 said...

Too many penalties to me seem to be the result of incidental contact...stick to body, stick to hand. Don't like the calls that have no bearing on the outcome of the play or directly impact a scoring chance. A lot of momentum is taken out of the game.


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