Saturday, May 21, 2005

A Rant about bad officiating

I just got home from attending the Chicago Wolves - Manitoba Moose game two in their AHL semi-final. Chicago won 3-0. The story of the game was horrible officiating by Wes McCauley.

There were 159 minutes in penalties in a very chippy game. It became clear very early in the game, that McCauley was afraid to do anything decisive to decide the game, so he made a common mistake among inexperienced officials. He tried to keep the penalties even. If Chicago took a penalty, then very soon, Manitoba would be given an even up penalty. If Manitoba took a penalty, then very soon Chicago was given a penalty. It was predicatable. By the mid-point in the first period, the players were starting to catch onto this. If your team is "down a penalty" you can get away with anything short of bloody murder - so why not bend the rules. The first minor retaliation will send the other team to the penalty box. Both teams were playing this game. When you become one penalty ahead of the other team, you can get away with cheapshots that won't be called. McCauley is only looking for the penalty to make things even. As a result, the game got away from the officials and many more fights and penalties occurred.

I have done a bit of officiating in my youth (though hardly at an AHL level). Just call it like you see it. If one team keeps going to the box and the other doesn't - so be it. That team should be penalized for repeatedly breaking rules. No need to look for a phantom penalty to call on the other team and no need to ease up on the over-penalized team because they are up a penalty or two. If you decisively and repeatably make the same call for the same play regardless of the game situation (same thing thats a penalty in the 1st period is a penaly in the 3rd period even if the game is close) you will gain respect. When you play stupid games like trying to keep the penalties even between the teams regardless of if they actually are even on the ice, the game can get away. Players know when they can and cannot get away with cheapshots and with extra cheapshots going uncalled, tempers will flare.

The box score for the game can be found here. Kari Lehtonen looked good in a shutout - although the Chicago defence prevented many tough shots on him. Chicago was the better team on the ice. Both teams played very chippy cheap games. Several fights occurred. Lots of pushing and shoving after every whistle. Most of this could have been prevented with good officiating. By trying not to make any decisive calls (ie both teams get the same number of penalties called on them) Wes McCauley became the most noticable guy on the ice. He failed today.

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