Monday, May 3, 2010

Refs Take 2-0 Lead in Wings-Sharks Series

This ain't hockey, Mr. Bettman. I know YOU think it is, but it ain't! You and yours are ruining the game. Please, stop. Hockey is meant to be played 5 on 5. Please quit ordering the refs to "make it exciting" by calling a penalty every time a player falls down. If there is an actual trip, call a penalty. If there is an actual hook, call a penalty. If there is actual interference, call a penalty. If someone actually interferes with the goalie, call a penalty. And so forth. Get it? Penalties are penalties. That's why the refs are on the ice - to call penalties when they ACTUALLY occur.

In last night's Wings-Sharks game, San Jose had four penalties called on them. They actually only committed two penalties. The Wings had TEN penalties called on them (Um, ten penalties is a WHOLE PERIOD - that's 1/3 of the game! - just sayin'). Of those ten, they actually only committed three (maybe four) penalties. The other seven (or six) penalties were called on them for just playing the game of hockey.

Now, don't get me wrong. I actually like the fact that you have worked to take the hooking and holding and interference, which used to be a regular feature, out of the game. That's all well and good. It did speed the game up. It has made it more a game of skill than it used to be. All for it. It used to drive me nuts when I was a kid to watch a player dump the puck in and go after it only to get completely mauled and taken out of the play by the opposing defenseman. I used to hate all the hooking and holding that was always allowed to go on uncalled, too. There were players in the NHL when I was growing up that truly lacked the skating ability and the skill to be there, but they made a living in the league because they were allowed to grab and hold. You have successfully eliminated all that stuff from the game. And that has been a good thing. Players today better have the skating ability and skill to play the game.

But, you see, here's the thing: The players have long since adapted to the new style of the game. They're not hooking and holding and grabbing and interfering like they used to. They haven't been doing that for some years now. They got the memo long ago. They've adjusted.

The problem is that this wasn't enough for you, was it? You still think the game isn't exciting enough. So, you have resorted to calling phantom penalties. If a player touches an opposing player's midsection, it's a hook these days. Even if a player only has one hand on his stick and is not in any way, shape, or form impeding his opponent, it's a hook. If a player shoves another player who has the puck and that player falls down, it's interference. If a player touches the opposing goalie, even if that goalie is three feet out of his crease, it's a penalty. And so on. It's embarrassing to watch. The refs look like idiotic fools. But, they're just doing their jobs, aren't they? That's what you want, Mr. Bettman, isn't it? You like a playoff hockey game with fourteen penalties called. You think it's exciting. You think the fans like multiple 5-on-3s in a game.

But, let me assure you, no true hockey fan likes this. It's all rather pathetic. We would rather have playoff hockey be playoff hockey, not a continuous display of "special teams."

And, guess what, Mr. Bettman. The players have adapted to this "new," new style, and have learned all too well how to make your refs look like fools. They know that if they fall down, the ref's arm is going to go up, and they're taking full advantage of it. There is more diving going on today than there ever was in the past. Players know that your refs are itching to raise their arms and blow their whistles. So, they fall down and flail about every chance they get, and your refs are all too willing to oblige their acting. This is actually worse than when the game suffered from all the holding and grabbing, for it has turned the game into a mockery.

And, yes, I know, Mr. Bettman, I'm writing this as a bitter Wings fan who finds his team down 2-0 right now. Call me a sore loser, if you wish, but the reffing in both of these games was nothing short of pathetic. I'm not the only one who believes this. Do a little searching around the internet and you will find that nearly everyone agrees, even those who can't stand the Wings.

But, these last two playoff games are not my major point of contention here. They are just symptoms of the disease which you have allowed to afflict this game that many of us love dearly. It is getting to the point where I can hardly stomach to watch any NHL game anymore. It's becoming a game for sissies, who make their livings falling to the ice every time they get touched.

But, given the fact that you do not have a hockey background and are nothing more than a business man, I don't expect you to understand any of this. I expect, rather, that you will continue in your attempt to "Americanize" the game, making it more and more a game for the amusement and entertainment of American fans who have little understanding of what the game is, where it came from, and how it is to be played. Just be aware that as you continue to do so, you will be losing many true hockey fans along the way. And, whether you realize it or not, the real and most essential "fan base" for the league you run (and are ruining) consists of we true hockey fans. Lose us, and your league will suffer greatly, whether you believe so or not.

Oh, and while I'm at it, quit dissing our Canadian neighbors. The next few expansion teams MUST be given to Canadian cities (e.g. Winnepeg, Hamilton, Quebec). If you expand further in the south here in America and deny our neighbors to the north in the process, I guarantee you that your league will suffer greatly because of it.

Rant over.


Matthew said...

Totally agree. Last night's debacle was hard to watch (especially since I too am a lifelong Wings fan). I sure hope we can rally as I'm not even close to being ready to shave my playoff beard (it's not even fully grown in yet!)

hn160 said...

Go Sharks!