Can Officiating Be Shored Up?

The Maven wraps up the refereeing talk. Sharks sure up goaltending. The Eichel wait continues, while the NHL is still without an Olympic deal.

The best time to talk about National Hockey League officiating is right here and now.

Look at it this way; the old season is over and the new one won't begin for a while.

We're so far in between that there's nothing to get mad about. No ref to knock; no game lost because of a bad call. 

We're calm as can be which, when you think about it, is almost impossible for zebra talk.

I know this for a fact because I just finished reading Ryan Kennedy's Hockey News piece, "No Rules? No, Rules."

It's an insightful column ending with a solution: "One or two extra calls per game -- and if they do it early in the first period, all the better. The players will adjust to the standard very quickly."

Kennedy insists that the result will be a battle "to see who has the most skill, structure and execution as a team. Letting the players decide the game."

Looks good in print, Pal Ryan, and I'd like to see what happens on the ice.

Well, actually, I know what will happen because a similar "solution" was tried when Kennedy was in diapers -- actually on more than one occasion -- and the result is more or less what we have today. 

An imperfect system. 

And the reason it's not 100 percent ideal, is simply because it's an impossibility.

Because as the very late, very great Silver Fox of Hockey, Lester Patrick, said it best: "Hockey is a game of mistakes." 

That's why there's such a thing as a "make-up call."

A ref blows one against, say, the Coyotes, and tries to make it up by calling one against, say, the Kings. 

You can look it up; the NHL is going to be entering its 105th season and -- for 104 years -- sincere thinkers such as Pal Ryan have come up with ways and means for refining refereeing. 

Just one example: During the late 1940s when a former NHL ref named Clarence Campbell was president of the Original Six, the league had a trio of best refs.

One was New York-born Bill Chadwick, the second was Quebec-born Georges Gravel and the third was ex-star defenseman King Clancy, out of Ottawa.

The way these esteemed gentlemen handled their respective whistles was "By Personality."

First Chadwick. The Big Whistle -- as Bill was known -- called them closest to the book; very stern, very fair although some Rangers fans claimed he was tougher against the Blueshirts because he didn't want people to think he favored his home team. (By the way, Bill was blind in one eye.) 

Gertie Gravel got his moniker from a Dick Tracy comic book character, Gravel Gertie. As it happened, Georges was a comical ref who'd bow to the crowd before every game and officiate with tongue in cheek more than in whistle. If your team won, you loved him all the more for his fun persona.

Francis Clancy was named "King" after his football playing dad who was "king of the kickers." Despite being small as a player, King was so competent -- and feisty -- a defenseman he was an easy Hall of Famer.

The thing with King, the ref, was that he loved -- really encouraged -- rough stuff. Clancy-officiated games were rock'em, sock 'em affairs that everyone seemed to love,

Did we beef about Chadwick, Gravel and Clancy?


Never, when our team won. 

However, if my guys lost, the cry would be "Chadwick is a bum" and we'd demand that officiating should be improved.

Nice try, Ryan Kennedy. Maybe you have the answer but 104 years of hockey says uh-uh, doubt it. 


THE JIVE: My longtime pal and Hurricanes major domo, Don Waddell, has turned Carolina into a team you don't want to face unless, maybe, you coach the Lightning. But when it comes to winning the Cup, the Raleigh theme as to be Close, but no cigar! 

Donny Do Something knows that better than anyone and explains why his fresh off the assembly line new model 2021-22 club is looking very exciting, if not a guaranteed winner. For starters, he still has a solid core led by Sebastian Aho, Andrei Svechnikov, Jacob Slavin, Brett Pesce and Martin Necas. Granted, he lost goalie Petr Mrazek, but Fred (No More Toronto Headaches) Andersen will be better.

Dougie Hamilton, you don't replace but a reformed, motivated Tony DeAngelo has the goods to be a very pleasant surprise. Maybe even a Masterton Award-winner. (Hey, ya never know!) I say that with Adams Award-winning coach Rod Brind'Amour the Canes window to contend for a Stanley Cup is wide open. (Deny that if you can.)


THE JIVE: In rebuild mode, San Jose g.m. Doug Wilson is going to a fresh goaltending tandem to replace Martin Jones-Devan Dubnyk of yesteryear.

The new one-two combo -- ever-reliable James Reimer and newcomer Adin Hlll -- will battle in camp for the top spot with Hill possibly winding up as No. 1.

Having just signed a two-year deal with a $2,175 million average value, Hill, 25, impressed with his original Coyotes outfit. More to my liking is his

background; namely a graduate of the Portland Winterhawks 2014-15 club. He went 31-11-1 with a league-best .921 average. Any product of Mike Johnston's Portland outfit has a shot at the NHL and Hill is the latest Exhibit A; this time in Sharks Country.


THE JIVE: Well, for one thing, the Sabres haven't traded Jack Eichel. And for another thing no NHL-In-The-Olympics deal has been finalized. And if you're wondering why they have something in common, it's all about the calendar. In Eichel's case, if the still-Sabre does not have the necessary spinal surgery done pronto, he won't be ready for the 2021-22 season. And when he finally does have it done will, say, the Rangers -- just guessing, mind you -- have to wait half a season before he's ready to compete, although that's not the worst thing in the world. (Check Bolts and Nikita Kucherov.) Meanwhile, time also is running out to finalize the NHL-Olympics deal if, in fact, it ever happens. (I say nix!) How much time on the O's deadline is anyone's guess. 


THE JIVE: In the 2019 Entry Draft, Kakko went second overall and Dach was right behind the Finn. One of our readers suggested that the Rangers -- the Blueshirts went for Kakko -- should have opted for Dach, from Fort Saskatchewan, Alberta. Maybe, yes; maybe no. The arithmetic doesn't say much. So far after 114 NHL games, Kakko is 19-21-40. By contrast Dach has played 82 games, good for 10-23-33. The feeling in Rangerville is that Kakko's coach, the since-fired David Quinn, may not have extracted the best out of Kaapo while Gerard Gallant will. My view is that the Blueshirts will include Kakko as part of a deal that just might include -- you guessed it -- Jackson (Himself) Eichel.


THE JIVE: I know, I know; you're sick and tired of praise being heaped on the Tampa Bay general staff for its overall wisdom. And, frankly, I don't blame you; because feel the same way. The trouble is the eminent g.m. Julien Brise-Bois makes it tough on the Enough Already With The Bolts Praise Marching and Chowder Society of which I'm a member. Darn thing is that every time you turn around Monsieur BriseBois has slipped in another subtle, but significant, move.

My choice is his acquisition of Corey Perry, The Poor Man's Zach Hyman. Frankly, I wouldn't care if Perry is 95 years old, there's something 15 years old about him. Plus, he has what my dear friend -- and esteemed tv colleague -- Doc Emrick liked to call snarl. So, now we have yet another worry about the Bolts winning a third straight Cup. Merci, Monsieur BriseBois.