Tuesday, July 24, 2007

It Couldn't Happen Here, Could It?

So I am sitting here at work watching David Stern try to distance himself and the NBA away from the point shaving/gambling scandal and wondering if it could happen in the NHL.

I, of course, find Stern's comments hilarious coming from a league that put its All Star Game in Las Vegas. I also feel bad for the Phoenix Suns since they definitely got shafted on some calls this year against the Spurs.

But could this kind of thing happen in the NHL? I think so. And that sucks. This new NHL certainly gives the officials a lot of power by allowing them to call any tug, hug or poke. Even with the two official system, one ref can call the game insanely tight and give the other team an advantage. We all talk about Game 5 and 7.7 seconds (thanks Chris) but Maxy Afinogenov scored a Power Play goal IN OVERTIME to win. I am one of those fans that think that the refs should swallow their whistles in OT barring heinous infractions or black-and-white calls. But there are plenty of issues in regulation as well. In Game 1 of the Buffalo-NY series, which I went all the way up to Buffalo for, there were 13 power plays given in the game (five for us, eight for the Sabres) but each team only converted on one. Who wants to see that?!?

The officiating in the new NHL has a ton of influence and power and that is just scary. Prior to the lockout the base salary range for NHL referees was $110,000 to $255,000 and $72,000 to $162,000 for linesmen (according to USA Today). But, like the players, they weren't payed for a full year. So I can certainly imagine some temptation there, even with some of the (if not THE) highest salaries for officials in professional sports. I guess we will just have to wait and see if good ole' Gary makes a statement and clarifies the NHL's security procedures for matters such as these.

Not all buildings chastise the referees the way the Garden does, so someone has to keep the stripes in line ...

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