Sunday, January 31, 2010
Thursday, January 28, 2010
By MARK SNYDER
FREE PRESS SPORTS WRITER
It is uncertain when Big
Big Ten coordinator of officials Rich Falk wrote in an e-mail today that it is Big Ten policy not to comment “on his injury or how long he will be out.”
“We, of course, hope he is well enough to return soon,” Falk wrote.
Burr's absence left Ed Corbett and Antonio Petty to finish the game, including the decisive, final-play alley-oop, on which TV replays showed Michigan forward DeShawn Sims’ jersey being held. Sims missed, no call was made, and MSU won by a point.
“I thought, on the way in, I probably should have questioned it, but I didn’t think so; I didn’t see anything,” U-M coach John Beilein said after the game. “The tape will show more. But under the circumstances, the crew did a great job with two men. Certianly, who know if the third guy was there, if they would have seen more than they saw? I’m sure I’ll see things on film, so will Tom (Izzo). But the crew did their best.”
The difference between two and three officials can be dramatic or inconsequential, Beilein said.
“It depends on people’s style of play,” he said. “I also coached a long time when there were only two of them. Sometimes that third official might not be calling anything anyhow, or sometimes he might be trying to control the game, you don’t know. But losing Jim Burr, you do not want to lose him in any game. There are some other games that I would have liked to lose a guy like that, but not Jim Burr.”
Incidentally, Burr has officiated Michigan this season more than any other team (seven), according to statsheet.com.Contact MARK SNYDER: 313-223-3210 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sunday, January 24, 2010
RED FISHER, The GazettePublished: Saturday, January 23, 2010
Detroit head coach Mike Babcock has had enough problems with his Red Wings thus far this season without muttering about a call by the officials that recently provided the Dallas Stars with a sixth-round, game-winning shootout goal.
Dallas goaltender Alex Auld and Detroit's Jimmy Howard stopped everything in the first five rounds before Steve Ott backhanded a shot through Howard's pads. Howard pulled the puck off the goal line, but after a lengthy video review, officials ruled the puck had gone fully over the line.
Babcock was not a happy camper with the decision.
"The puck didn't go in the net," the coach fumed. "I thought that's why we had video replay. The referee on the goal line called it, but then they determined he was blocked out and the referee decided it went in the net. I don't know how a guy 20 feet away can make that decision when we have people in Toronto with video replay. That makes no sense to me whatsoever."
After talking to reporters, Babcock visited the officials' room to voice his displeasure.
Babcock wasn't fined for his outburst, but somebody should remind him that while players can't be fined more than $2,500 (see Alex Burrows) for criticizing referees, the ceiling for coaches is $10,000.
At least a few NHL general managers are willing to consider a proposal that would give video replay officials at the central office in Toronto more authority on controversial calls, Hockey Night in Canada contributor Elliotte Friedman said during Saturday's Hotstove segment.
There are also suggestions to bring in a new "coach's challenge" rule similar to the one used in football, he said.
The call for a review of how the NHL handles video replay stems from an incident on Jan. 16 when Dallas Stars forward Steve Ott's shootout winner over Detroit was allowed to stand. The final call from the on-ice officials was "goal," but the replays were inconclusive.
The video review officials couldn't overturn the call even though replays failed to show the puck crossing the goal-line.
But there's talk among some GMs that the replay officials at the central office should be given the power to overturn calls more frequently.
"About six or seven GMs I canvassed say they'd like to see Toronto [make the calls]," Friedman said. "If that's any indication of how the whole league feels, there will be a movement for it."
But there is a concern such a move could make the on-ice referees little more than lame ducks.
"They're the guys on the ice," contributor Pierre LeBrun said. "In some cases they have a better view than even all of the replays. And if you take another element of power from the referee there's a sensitivity there that the ivory tower has more control."
Perhaps the referees should have access to the replays themselves, by viewing them at the penalty box, similar to the way it's done in football, Hockey Night analyst Mike Milbury suggested.
Challenge rule under consideration
Another element of officiating in the National Football League might also make its way to the NHL, Friedman said: Instituting a coach's challenge for certain plays, such as the delay-of-game call when a player fires the puck out of play in his own zone.
There was an incident in a game on Jan. 19 between Montreal and St. Louis when Habs' defenceman Roman Hamrlik was called for delay of game. Some replays indicated the puck deflected off a stick before going into the crowd, which should have negated the infraction.
Those are the types of plays the league might consider using the challenge for, Friedman said.
Teams would receive one challenge per game, and they would lose their timeout if they were wrong. If the team had already used its timeout, it would receive a delay of game penalty.
"Teams are willing to listen [to the suggestion]," Friedman said.
But critics worry that it will lengthen the average 2½-hour game.
"[It's a] bad idea. We've spent 10 years trying to make the games shorter, now we're going to make it longer again," LeBrun said.
Canucks still fuming
The infamous Burrows-Auger incident is still on the minds of Vancouver Canucks and their fans.
Canucks forward Alex Burrows was fined $2,500 US for his disparaging comments toward referee Stephane Auger after the Jan. 11 game against Nashville.
The NHLPA is appealing the decision, saying that the maximum fine for such an offence should have been $1,000 US.
Vancouver GM Mike Gillis also met with NHL disciplinarian Colin Campbell on Jan. 19 to discuss the matter. Gillis showed video of Auger talking to Burrows during the pre-game skate, Friedman said.
Burrows alleges that Auger told him he was going to get back at the Canucks player for faking an injury by embellishing a foul on him by the Predators' Jerred Smithson in a previous game.
"Vancouver's frustration is that they think Stephane Auger got away scot-free," LeBrun said.
Struggling Oilers shopping Souray
In Edmonton, the frustration mounts for other reasons — the Oilers simply can't find a way to win.
As a result, defenceman Sheldon Souray will provide the Oilers with a list of teams where he'd be willing to be traded, HNIC's Scott Morrison reported during the Coast-to-Coast segment.
It's unclear how many teams would be on that list but Souray is expected to provide his picks to Oilers' management "soon."
Souray has a no-trade clause and two years left on his contract. His salary would constitute a $5.4 million US hit against the salary cap.
Tuesday, January 19, 2010
The Alex Burrows affair brings up a controversial question
The idea of alternative sports officiating began to seem appealing during the 2007 Tim Donaghy scandal—the NBA ref who was found to be fixing games as part of a deal with the Mob. And now, the recent Alex Burrows affair has brought the idea round again.
Burrows was fined by the NHL the other day for speaking out against NHL referee Stéphane Auger. Auger, as the story goes, allegedly penalized the Canucks winger late in the third period of a tight, tied game with the Predators last Monday as retribution for an incident earlier in the season in which Burrows took a dive (that was mistakenly called a penalty by Auger, who was also refing that game).
Burrows is right: Auger made the wrong call against him, at a critical moment in the game. And the two were seen chatting before the game (wherein Burrows claims Auger promised to “get him back” for embarrassing him earlier in the season).
No doubt this happens regularly—and not just in the NHL, but all professional sports. Refs hate having their authority questioned—and you have to sympathize to a certain extant with their soft-shelliness, they have the most thankless job in sports—and so they tend to bite back at anyone who challenges them. But refs aren’t dictators and this behaviour seriously threatens sports, for both athletes and fans.
Simple solution: get rid of them.
Tennis has already eliminated the potential biases and mistakes of referees, to a certain extent, by installing a computer system that players can use, during the course of a match, to challenge a human-made call. The machines are right all the time; humans not so much—in every match I’ve seen since the system was installed, at least one ref’s (sorry, umpire’s) call has been overruled by a computer that sees the lines of the court—and whether the ball fell within or without them—far clearer.
So it can be done. Though it’ll be harder in team sports. Computers would have a harder time discerning real infractions of holding and tripping rules than an actual human on the field of play.
So how about a counter-solution? Keep the refs, but take them off the field/rink/court. The NHL already employs officials who sit up in a booth high above the ice—they’re there to review disputed goals, but surely also know the outside-the-crease rules of the game. And they have a better view of the ice surface than the four refs who actually skate on it with the players—plus the benefit of slow-motion TV sets to review the game. Why not officiate the entire game from up there?
This works for at least two reasons: first, it gets rid of the bias problem—the players don’t need to know who’s making the call from the booth, and any potential for Burrows-Auger-style personal wars could be quelled. As an added bonus, eliminating four extra skaters from the surface would open up the game – something fans have been calling for forever.
If you can’t get rid of refs, they ought to be as unobtrusive as possible.
Sunday, January 17, 2010
NHL deals with own referee controversy
A whistleblowerBy Scott Conroy
Sunday, January 17, 2010 - Added 1d 1h ago
As someone who can’t figure out why any rational person would find the NBA a more appealing product than the NHL on a nightly basis, I’ve gotten a good laugh as the former has grappled with such public relations disasters as the Tim Donaghy gambling scandal to the “High Noon” hijinks down in Washington with Gilbert Arenas.
But the NHL had its own little integrity-of-the-game issue last week and, though it’s hardly as rancid as the Donaghy mess, it doesn’t smell quite right.
After a Nashville win in Vancouver on Monday, Canucks forward Alex Burrows accused referee Stephane Auger of telling him prior to the game that he planned to get a little payback for Burrows’ supposed embellishment of an injury after a hit in a game between the same two teams on Dec. 8. That hit prompted Auger to slap Predator forward Jerred Smithson with a five-minute major and game misconduct, which was subsequently rescinded by the league when video suggested Burrows was faking it.
There is video evidence of a pregame conversation between Burrows and Auger on Monday night, as well as suspicious third-period diving and interference calls against Burrows, the latter of which roundly has been described as questionable at best. Burrows was in the penalty box when Nashville scored the game-winning goal.
After the game, Burrows aired his version of the story to the media scrum.
“It was personal,” he said. “It started in the warmup before the anthem. The ref came over to me and said I made him look bad on the Smithson hit. He said he was going to get me back tonight and he did his job in the third period.”
For that and other comments, the league tagged Burrows with a $2,500 fine. Auger got no public rebuke. And who knows? Maybe that was the most just outcome possible, though the fine would seem to suggest that the league believes Burrows (who did serve a suspension while in the ECHL for abuse of an official, by the way), is a liar with a vivid imagination.
Now, to digress for a minute, a little give between a player and ref is nothing new. Former referee and NHL player Paul Stewart, now the director of officiating for the ECAC collegiate league, has a lengthy list of NHL All-Stars, from Steve Yzerman to Dennis Savard to Craig Janney, with whom he had run-ins. And he made his share of threats.
“I refereed at least 100 games with Claude Lemieux. That guy should have been the Otis Elevator Man of the Year. Why? He was up, he was down, he was up, he was down,” Stewart said. “Half the time he was down; he’d feel his teeth, try to put on an act for the home crowd. He tried to suck us in. You’d go by him, tell him to get up, call him a phony, whatever. One night I went over to (former Montreal coach Pat) Burns and told him, ‘I’ve had enough of this guy. You either start coaching him or I’m going to ditch him.’ ”
Some might not approve of that approach but, Stewart surmised, a good hockey man would recognize he was giving the team a break by giving a warning, however pointed it may have been.
“You’ve got to temper it with judgment,” Stewart said.
Auger, however, is not accused of making a threat but a promise, and that alleged vow affected the game’s outcome. In what boiled down to a he-said, he-said standoff, league disciplinarian Colin Campbell sided with Auger, at least publicly.
“The National Hockey League will not tolerate the personal nature of the comments Mr. Burrows directed at Referee Auger or the fact that he brought into question the integrity of the official and the game,” Campbell said in a statement released Wednesday.
“We have determined that Mr. Burrows’ account of Referee Auger’s comments to him before the game, and specifically Burrows’ suggestion that these comments indicated bias against the player or the Vancouver team, cannot be substantiated. While Referee Auger engaged the player in a brief conversation prior to the opening faceoff, I firmly believe that nothing inappropriate was said and that Referee Auger’s intentions were beyond reproach.”
Appearing on the NHL Network on Thursday, Campbell, the NHL’s vice president of hockey operations, said that Auger told him he never broached the specific subject of payback, yet, given that the smoking gun conversation was in French, Campbell said there very well could have been a misunderstanding between the ref and Burrows.
A plausible explanation? Maybe. A convenient one? Absolutely.
To read the rest of the article- click here
Thursday, January 14, 2010
BY WEB STAFF
The fallout from the Stephane Auger-Dave Burrows controversy continued Thursday, with a memo from the officials president chastising members for speaking to the media, in particular sportsnet.ca's Mark Spector.
In a memo obtained by Sportsnet on Thursday, NHL Officials Association president Brian Murphy addressed concerns brought up by the referee membership in regards to talking to the media.
According to Murphy's memo, officials are embarrassed over public comments made by four members to Spector in his Tuesday column 'What was he thinking?'.
The complete text of the memo is below:
Subject: Public Comments
In the past 48 hours I have received numerous phone calls, text messages and emails from the membership. More so than any other issue that I have had to address with in the past 4 and half years. I appreciate your feedback. I hope I have replied to you all and if I didn't its not that I'm ignoring you, I just have had so many messages.
The message from the membership is quite clear. It comes from the entire cross section of the membership. Referees and linesmen, East and West, American and Canadian. The message is you have had enough with our members making public comment in the media. In particular to Mark Spector and his article on Tuesday (please see article below). You are embarrassed that comments were being made during the investigation. You are upset that in some cases the comments were negative toward one of our own members. I could go on.
This morning I conducted a conference call with the discipline committee. I can hear your thought now, "here we go again". Not this time boys.
During the call I expressed to the committee all the comments I have received from the membership. I told them you had finally had enough and that these individuals went too far this time. You kicked one of our own when he was down. I told them the committee was responsible to follow through on the wishes of the membership to bring these people forward.
The discipline committee will work on the issue. I caution all of you not to rush to judgement. We don't know for sure who made the comments. Please allow the process to follow through to conclusion. It may take until we are all together in one room at training camp.
As President of the Association, I would just like to remind you of our direction. You are allowed to comment to the media on any issue that personally involves you. For example, Stephane Auger has every right from the Association perspective to speak out. If you were not involved in the game or the comments are not directed at you, there is no reason for you to respond. The Executive Director or President in consultation with the Executive Board are the only ones who have a right to speak on behalf of the Association on matters which directly affect the Association.
Further, members of the Association who speak to the media may be in violation of Section 28 (F) of the CBA (See below). Please read this carefully and be prepared for any potential consequences. See Section 28 (G) of CBA (See below).
I'm not sure when some of you will learn that commenting to the media doesn't benefit anyone in this group. It just gives them something to write a story about. I know the events of this past week in particular and some others during this season have taught me that some of you in this group can't be trusted. That's a very disheartening situation, but reality. It will limit the information flow from my computer from now on.
Thanks for your consideration.
Section 28 (F) CBA
Public Statements - Each official will refrain from making any public statement concerning the NHL, its Officers or Governors or its policies or any aspect of his duties as an official or any incident occurring in the course of the performance of his duties as an official or about his fellow officials or about any other League or Association with which the NHL has friendly relations, without the express permission of the Commissioner, the Senior Executive Vice-President and Director of Hockey Operations or their designee. The League shall give the Association written notice of the outcome of disciplinary proceedings involving verbal or physical abuse of officials and the Association and the officials agree to keep same confidential among themselves. These provisions do not prohibit or limit in any manner the right of the official to make such public statements as he may deem necessary to defend himself against critical or defamatory utterances of any kind, oral or written, directed against him, relating to his general competence or integrity as an official or as to his personal character, nor does it prohibit or limit his right to prosecute an action for damages or other redress to which he may be entitled, in respect of any such critical or defamatory statement by whomever made
Section 28 (G)
(a) Discipline - Apart from its right to release officials pursuant to section 14 hereof, the NHL shall have the right to discipline, suspend without compensation, and/or fine an official for cause which, without limiting the foregoing, shall include breach of this Agreement, failure to comply with Policies and Procedures Manual provisions, a copy of which shall be furnished promptly to the officials and the Executive Director of the NHLOA upon execution of this Agreement, or failure to fulfil orders, directions or instructions of the Commissioner of the NHL, the Senior Executive Vice-President and Director of Hockey Operations or their designee. An official shall not, however, be fined by the League for on-ice calls which resulted from an official’s exercise of judgment, as opposed to his knowledge of the rules. In the case of a fine for rule interpretation and application, for a first “offence” in any season, the fine shall not exceed $350. In the case of all other fines, the fine shall not exceed $1,000. When an official is disciplined, suspended and/or fined, he shall forthwith be notified in writing of the reasons therefor, and a copy of the notice shall be forthwith furnished to the Executive Director of the NHLOA. An official disciplined under this provision may appeal the disciplinary determination to the Commissioner or his designee, whose determination on the appeal shall be final. Upon timely application by the affected official, the Commissioner or his designee may stay any discipline pending an appeal.
All fines paid pursuant to this section shall be paid to the NHLOA Alumni Association Fund to be established by the NHL in conjunction with the NHLOA.
Proper notification of disciplinary action relating to an NHL official’s interaction or altercation with playing or non-playing personnel or under Rule 76 shall be forwarded to the Executive Director of the NHLOA. The NHL shall also provide written notice of League decisions concerning these matters to the official and to the Executive Director of the NHLOA. The parties agree to keep these matters confidential.
Tuesday, January 12, 2010
1/12/2010 2:57:12 PM
This Alexandre Burrows-Stephane Auger situation is going to get messy. It's the proverbial can of worms for everyone involved – the league, the NHL Officials' association, referee Auger, player Burrows and the entire Vancouver Canucks' organization – and it's a story that is not likely to go away any time soon.
If the events of last night unfolded as Burrows has alleged – and there is plenty of evidence, circumstantial and otherwise – to suggest they did more or less, then the NHL will have no choice but to take some form of disciplinary action against Auger, be it a reprimand, a fine, a suspension or an evaluation that could go into his file and cost him playoff games and/or money along the line or maybe even his job.
And the NHLOA, the refs' and linesmen's union, will no doubt have no choice but to do everything possible to protect Auger, who by the way was the official who assessed Shane Doan a 10-minute misconduct that led to a major brouhaha over whether player uttered a cultural slur.
So you see where this is headed, eh? Nowhere good.
For those who may have missed it, here's the long story-short version of what went down:
In a Dec. 8 game between Vancouver and Nashville, Predator player Jerred Smithson was assessed a five-minute charging major and a game misconduct by Auger for a hit on Burrows. Nashville won the game 4-2, but in the aftermath of the game, the NHL rescinded the major/game misconduct against Smithson because the video evidence strongly suggested Burrows embellished the hit and faked an injury.
Fast forward to last night's game between the same two teams in Vancouver.
Burrows alleges that Auger came up to him in warm-up, before the anthem, and there is video showing the two having a conversation.
''A ref came over to me and he said I made him look bad in Nashville on the Smithson hit and he said he was going to get me back tonight,'' Burrows said after the game.
Auger called a diving penalty on Burrows early in the third period and then called him for an interference penalty in the last five minutes of the third period. Shortly after that, Canuck forward Henrik Sedin was assessed a tripping minor and the Predators scored what turned out to be the game-winning goal in the third period. In the final seconds of the game, Burrows received a 10-minute misconduct from Auger for telling the ref what he thought of him. Burrows, by the way, scored both Canuck goals and came close to getting a third hat trick in four games.
After the game, a distraught Burrows fired both barrels at Auger.
''He got me on the diving call, I didn't think I was diving,'' Burrows said. ''He got me on an interference call that I had no idea how he could call that. It changed the game. It sucks right now for teammates who are battling for 60 minutes to win a hockey game because every two points are so huge, are so important. And because of a guy's ego, it just blows everything out of proportion and the refs – they're making bad calls and the fans are paying for it and we're paying for it.
for the rest of the article- click here
Sunday, January 10, 2010
An NHL executive said last night that replay officials in Toronto were not given the proper replays by Fox Sports in Pittsburgh on Thursday, when they ruled that Simon Gagne's goal did not count against the host Penguins.
Gagne swatted a second-period rebound that Penguins goalie Brent Johnson smothered and appeared to carry into the net. It was not ruled a goal on the ice, and when replay officials in Toronto viewed the replays, they said the evidence was "inconclusive" and did not count the goal.
A few minutes after the ruling, another replay was shown in the press box, showing the puck past the goal line.
Fox did not send that replay to Toronto officials until after the puck was dropped following the ruling.
"At that point, the ruling was permanent," said John Dellapina, an NHL executive.
The Flyers' telecast was using the Pittsburgh video feed and did not have any video to send to Toronto.