NCAA Round: After further review the refs suck.
There has been a recurring theme this season in the WCHA and to a lesser extent the other leagues in college hockey, shoddy and inconsistent officiating. What is a penalty one period isn’t a penalty the next. While the NHL has figured out how to protect the puck carrier and call the obstruction the WCHA is still lagging behind the NHL and the rest of college hockey. The refs are failing to call the picks, hooking, holdings and slashing penalties.
Another troubling trend is that the officials are failing to make the proper calls on the ice at the time that they happen and are making the calls after reviewing the video. Last week I witnessed one of the biggest travesties that I have seen in college hockey for a very long time. During a game between UND and SCSU the Huskies Aaron Marvin put a deliberate, bush league, brutal, and devastating hit on UND defenseman and Hobey Baker Memorial Award candidate Chay Genoway’s.
If you watch the video you will see that Marvin followed Genoway all the way up the ice and drove his head into the glass with a vicious elbow, Genoway didn’t even have the puck at the time of the check. It’s easy to determine from watching the video that it was a deliberate hit.
The thing that troubles me the most is that there were four officials on the ice at the time of the play. Everyone in the building saw the play except the four on ice officials. That is unacceptable and that can not be allowed to happen. Some ones’ head needs to role for that. How can there be four officials on the ice and none of them see the play in question? How come they aren’t watching the play in the area of where the puck is? Seriously! This is a legitimate question; shouldn’t the ref be watching the play or area where the puck is in play? If the refs aren’t watching the play what the heck are they watching?
What is even more troublesome is that after the whistle there was an ensuing lengthy discussion between three of the on ice officials. It was determined incorrectly after a lengthy discussion that SCSU defenseman Chris Hepp had hit Genoway from behind. Hepp was incorrectly given a five minute major and a game misconduct. Hepp was sent to the locker room where he took off his equipment and showered. Aaron Marvin was allowed to play for another 2 ½ minutes before the period ended.
Between periods: After reviewing the video it was correctly determined that Aaron Marvin was the one that committed the penalty and not Chriss Hepp. So naturally after being thrown out of the game Chris Hepp had taken off his equipment and showered because he had assumed his night was over. After the correction of the penalty Hepp was told to get dressed and return to the game. Hepp had to put his equipment back on and didn’t show up on the bench until after the period had started. I have never in all of my days of watching hockey heard or seen anything like that happening before.
The WCHA reviewed the play and decided to tack on an additional one game suspension for Aaron Marvin. My next question is how does Marvin only get a one game suspension for that brutal hit? This past week James Neal of the Dallas Stars was given a two game suspension for a less serious hit by the NHL. Are we to infer that the “Wheels of Justice” in the NHL are more credible than the NCAA and WCHA?
I meant to blow the whistle on that play
I have been witness to a lot of quick whistles at the goalmouth this season. Some of these plays were obvious goals that should have counted. Of course the on ice official got the on ice call wrong or was totally out of position to make the right call. In most of these cases the puck hadn’t been frozen, yet the ref incorrectly called the play dead. A couple of these calls were of the “I intended to blow the whistle on that play” which in a couple of cases was the incorrect call.
College hockey isn’t the only place these things happen. In the best league in hockey the NHL the same thing also happened during game involving the Detroit Redwings and the Dallas Stars. The Redwings scored what looked like a legitimate goal only to fall victim to the subjective, “I intended to blow the whistle but I couldn’t get my lips on the whistle call the play dead.” After reviewing the video numerous time it was very apparent that Dennis LaRue a veteran official had blown the call horribly. I think in this case LaRue didn’t want to admit that he made a mistake.
You have to give the NHL credit they at least explained why the goal was waved off the WCHA doesn’t usually give their explanation on controversial call.
“The way we’ve always handled it and the way we will continue to handle it until we have a procedure change is the referees call on the ice stands. He sees the shot and he sees the save and doesn’t see the puck in the net and kills the play or blows the whistle,” Murphy said. “It’s not when you hear the whistle blow, it’s when he intends to blow the whistle. There is a little bit of a gray area there between when he intends and when the whistle sounds. [NHL.COM]
These kinds of incidents do not reflect well on the leadership of the WCHA or its on ice officials. That fact remains that the commissioner of the WCHA Bruce McLeod and its head of officials Greg Shepherd are oblivious to the lack of credibility of their on ice officials and or they don’t feel that the league office as has a credibility problem. As long as there is parity in the WCHA they don’t care. They fail to get rid of bad officials and actually reward them with letting them work NCAA regional and Championship games. The thing that I find troublesome is that the junior league the USHL can find credible and decent officials to ref their games but the WCHA cannot and keeps wheeling out the same old officials year after year. Something has to be done.
The WCHA rarely if ever feels that they to answer for their officials on ice incompetence. This past weekend there was no “formal” explanation for to the on ice debacle that took place in Grand Forks, ND. The only time recently that I can remember this happening was after former referee Randy Schmidt had blown two calls on controversial goals in 2008 and after the second incident Schmidt was finally suspended by the WCHA and not hired back the following year. No official explanation was given. I believe the fans are entitled to these explanations. No press release was ever issued about Schmidt’s dismissal from the WCHA
The funny thing was that it wasn’t until one of the WCHA’s Big Ten schools got screwed by a bad call, costing them a game and points in the standings that the WCHA finally decided to step in and then decided to suspend and terminate Schmidt’s employment.
What can be done about the incompetent officials?
I don’t think there is anything that can be done about incompetent officials except if the member schools of a particular conference become unhappy with the current state of the on ice officials. I believe that the member schools would have to lodge formal complaints and request that a change be made. Also, in the case of the leadership at the top of the WCHA, and pertaining to the commissioner Bruce McLeod and the head of officials Greg Shepherd the league schools would probably have to decide that they have had enough of the current administration and fail to renew their contracts.
Fans have the right to complain about the officials
I hear from time-to-time other fans tell fellow fans to stop complaining about the on ice officials. As hockey fans we are told how hard it is to officiate the game of hockey and that the refs should be given some slack. Having officiated hockey at a very low level in college you’re right it is hard to officiate hockey games. So there is a little bit of validity in that statement, however, hockey fans pay good money to watch a very good product of athletes they deserve and should demand that the on ice officials be the best in their trade. We should not have to settle for mediocre officiating or officials. I encourage fans to write or call their league office if they feel that the quality of officiating isn’t up to snuff.
I don’t think it’s unreasonable to expect that the league officials should be of top quality and have to perform at a higher level. If the refs are not doing a good job they should be removed from the league and never allowed to ref in college hockey again. The status quo is no longer good enough and the fans deserve and should demand better.