Fraser: Hoping that the embellishment stops in Cup Final

Kerry Fraser

6/12/2011 12:59:55 AM

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Hey Kerry,
Maybe my views are just biased, but I am having a really hard time understanding the calls that the refs are making in this series. I realize that past performances from players like Burrows and Lapierre are being taken in to account to ensure the game's integrity, but last game was an embarrassment for the officials. Consistency is non-existent and I feel like the officials are more concerned with making sure that they don't fall subject to a cheap diving call than actually calling the play on the ice.
My question is: Does the NHL review every game with officials? If so, who do they meet with and do you feel like these meetings are causing these discrepancies?
Andrew Buckley
Hello Kerry,
I have really enjoyed reading your responses in this column throughout the playoffs.  It's not often that we get to hear from a referee's perspective.  Sure hope this feature continues during the regular season next year. My question is...
Similar to coaches with their teams, do referees (or their supervisors) review game video and do post-game analysis of calls made or missed? Is there some type of performance evaluation after each game?
Kind Regards,
B. Wiebe
I thought they were the same crew. I did not notice the changes, but what I want made mandatory is the head official must meet with the media after the games, just like coaches and players

Hi Andrew, "B" and Ken:

There is no question in my mind that the excessive "diving/embellishment" that has gone on throughout the playoffs has carried over into this series and is contributing to a consistency problem; both real and perceived. I have observed players snap their head back so hard in an attempt to fool the referee I'm surprised they don't end up on the injured list with whiplash.

Andrew, you specifically mentioned Burrows and Lapierre from the Canucks as known offenders in this category. We could compile a lengthy list beyond just these two. Even the potential Conn Smythe winner, Tim Thomas (regardless of who wins the Cup) would be included on my list.

Last night, as I watched the game from home as an observer, I heard Pierre McGuire make an astute comment from his position 'between the glass' at ice level with regard to the embellishment that was taking place. Pierre's point was that the referees were not about to be fooled at that time in the game by the embellishment of Burrows and others. He went so far as to suggest that it could even work against them. My esteemed colleague stole my thought.

While Alexandre Burrows has been an extremely effective player throughout this series his antics last night sent me over the edge.

I immediately fired off an e-mail to Pierre and the other TSN talent that was at the game to share my officiating thought process. This is what that e-mail said: "The embellishment/diving that has been committing is beyond embarrassing. If I was on the ice, the next time a player took a flip, I'd throw dirt on him!"
When a player (any player) demonstrates a lack of legitimacy in being fouled the referee will tighten the standard on that particular player and the 'noose'. If he is legitimately fouled and continues with his usual embellishment on the play it would not be unusual to expect that a diving penalty would also be called and nullify what would have been a power play for his team. This would hold the player accountable and in effect maintains the integrity of the game.

TSN analyst and friend Bob McKenzie picked up on this and commented on the panel that Burrows and Lapierre were behaving in such a way that they weren't doing themselves any favours and it would be difficult for them to get a legitimate call go their way because of the embellishment(s).

This series isn't over yet and players from both sides have placed themselves in a position with the referees working the series where doubt will be created every time they fall down. They will have to live with the consequences of the perception they have created.

Terry Gregson, vice president of officiating, is overseeing the officials' performance and monitoring the series. Terry conducts a meeting with the officials on the day of the game (or evening before) to offer direction, update the crew as to any series developments that might be of concern or require an adjustment in their standard or focus of attention. Hockey operations is generally involved in these pre-game meetings so Mike Murphy would most likely also add his perspective.

When the game ends the officials are given a DVD for their personal review of their performance. Gregson would discuss anything pertinent to their performance or happenings in the game that might require clarification or provide his assessment. For the most part his post-game discussion will be kept positive in nature knowing that his officials will perhaps be called upon to work additional games in the series. These are the last men standing from the entire officiating staff.

As such, the officials are assigned in pairings at the start of the series through Game 6. Game 7 is assigned if necessary and could result in breaking up of the original pairings.

Ken would like to see the head official available to the media no differently than the players and coaches are. I spoke about postgame media access to the officials at length in a previous column. Several of you commented that you did not want the officials available to the media for interviews.
I can tell you that following the posting of that article I received personal e-mails from more than one member of the media that are covering the series. They all wished that a pool reporter had access (when needed) to speak with the officials on a disputed play so that they could offer up both sides of an argument; which as one professional stated, "is what we should be doing as journalists." I know many of the media personally and can attest to just how professional and fair they are. I believe media members should have access Ken, even if the head official you speak of is Gregson. 

He could keep the game officials out of the spotlight yet respond as a person of knowledge to media questions concerning the officiating.
After Game 6 my hope is that all we have to talk about is the exciting game we witnessed.