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Fraser: Wednesday's scuffle between Myers and Marchand

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TSN.ca Staff
2/27/2014 11:49:38 AM
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Got a question on rule clarification, comments on rule enforcements or some memorable NHL stories? Kerry wants to answer your emails at cmonref@tsn.ca.

Hi Kerry,
 
In the Boston-Buffalo game on Wednesday night in the second period, Sabres defenceman Tyler Myers slashes Bruins forward Brad Marchand and then punches him in the head! How and why does Marchand get the penalty, with no call on Myers? He then scores a go-ahead goal!

My question would be - does a supervising official between periods give the refs the talking down a player would get from his coach? This call could cost a team two points on very questionable officiating!

Thanks,
Ken MacAskill

Ken:

Both you and broadcast analyst Joe Micheletti made the correct call on this play. At the very least the Bruins and Sabres should have been playing four men aside as a result of the altercation between Tyler Myers and Brad Marchand. In a perfect world, Myers deserved an extra minor penalty as the aggressor in this incident following his slash and punch at Marchand.

You asked how and why, only Brad Marchand received the penalty on this play. The trailing referee is responsible for all players behind the Sabres blue line.  As the Sabres went on the attack from their end zone, Marchand cut across the ice toward his bench for a line change and in doing so skated directly in front of Myers. The altercation began when Marchand dropped his hip toward Myers who responded with a cross-check shove, a slash by each player and then the Myers punch.

At this point play was stopped to assess a penalty. The camera picked up the trailing referee with his arm raised and approaching the two players on an angle back from the neutral zone toward Tyler Myers and Brad Marchand. From the referee's angle of return it is apparent to me that he had vacated the Sabres end zone prior to players clearing that zone and failed to recognize and observe the 'hot spot' between Marchand and Myers. I don't believe the ref saw the start of the altercation but picked it up when Brad Marchand jammed his stick into Myers midsection. He therefore deemed Marchand to be the instigator of the scrum. The easy call should have been to penalize both players for their actions. Unfortunately that didn't take place and resulted in a Tyler Myers power-play goal.

Officiating managers (supervisors) very seldom enter the officials' room between periods unless something extremely serious has gone afoul. Instead, the manager will review his observations and game report with the officials at the conclusion of the game. In certain cases, depending upon travel schedules or a perceived need, a follow-up telephone call or even breakfast meeting might take place with an official. Typically though any instruction/coaching will take place in the officials' dressing room after the game.  There was a time when supervisors entered the room between periods but team management objected to this practice when they felt the official's approach to the game changed to drastically following between period instructions.

I don't agree with this practice in principle, but whenever the conversation does take place the supervisor's proper approach and coaching techniques are vital in advancing the official's learning curve.

When I observe a Division I College game for my former colleague and referee-in-chief of the ECAC Paul Stewart, I always visit the officials' room between periods; if for no other reason but to be supportive and available should they have any questions. My approach is always to be positive and point out the good things they did but also to make them aware of any potential 'hot spots' that might develop in addition to any positioning issues I feel the need to address. The game can certainly look different from the press box or the television monitor than it does at ice level.

In a flash from the past, when I first signed a contract with the NHL there was a different and much more aggressive approach taken by the supervisors of that day which could be very intimidating for an official; especially a young one. Team general managers were not fined for approaching the officials' room and shouting matches often took place in the hall outside the ref's room. Supervisors were subjected to angry rants from team personnel in the press box which could result in a between period visit to the officials' room by a supervisor. I can tell you there were trash cans kicked around the officials' room and rolled up programs thrown at the wall in some of these "coaching" sessions. As you can imagine they weren't very productive from a teaching perspective but could have a profound effect on how the next period was officiated!

In today's fast paced game the two referee two linesman system is mandatory. An influx of younger officials has been hired to the staff when the veterans retire. Enhanced coaching and mentoring techniques are required to quicken the learning curve that takes place in addition to holding all the officials accountable to the expected standard. This is a work in progress.  

Tyler Myers (Photo: Bill Wippert/NHLI via Getty Images)

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(Photo: Bill Wippert/NHLI via Getty Images)
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