Thanks to the many Isles fans who continue writing in and questioning my sanity over this Screen Shots column. I tried to explain myself in last week's mailbag, but many of you still weren't satisfied. Take Ron Link for example:
I agree that the officials (mostly) do not try and make mistakes and mostly give an honest effort. But the fact is that the NHL is the worst officiated of the four major sports. I agree it is a difficult profession, but if you chose to become a ref you need to be held accountable. As for what you said in Ask Adam:Â“I don't believe Leggo, Walkom or myself have ever claimed to be unfailingly correct. But I do believe we all act with integrity. And until I see every one of those people who ripped me a new one attending a NHL referee tryout camp and nailing every call, I stand by my argument.Â”This is a cop out. I am not an NHL official and never wanted to be and will never go to a tryout camp to see how good I am. To act with integrity is admirable, but if you aren't good enough to do the job, changes need to be made. I am a season ticket holder for the Wild and have seen refs make bad call after bad call, for and against the Wild.Instead of being OK that they try hard, it is time to demand they actually produce. If time after time I fail at my job, even though I am a nice guy and try hard, I will be out. Why should we expect anything less from them.
Is the NHL really the worst-officiated pro sports league? I've been doing some work covering the NBA for ESPN.com lately and the complaints about the calls in that league are just as bad, if not worse, than they are in the NHL. Fans of just about every team in every sport are convinced (a) the officials stink; and (b) there is a vendetta against their beloved players.
The increased flow and speed of hockey Â– and can you imagine what a disaster it would be going back to the one-ref system? Â– makes the Zebras' jobs all the more difficult. They're never going to get everything right, no matter how many times you or Stephen Walkom point out errors.
Also, I wonder what your definition of Â“produceÂ” is. For many fans, it means Â“leave my team alone and nail those rotten s.o.b.'s on the other bench.Â” You'll never make everyone happy in the officiating business, nor should you strive to.
Ultimately, I think the players are the ones who have to produce. When they don't, they shouldn't be laying blame at the feet of guys who don't carry sticks on the ice. The folks in the stands and at home watching the game on TV shouldn't, either.
I usually like your columns and think you are probably the brightest and most reasonable hockey writer around. I've been annoyed at your coverage of the Dallas-Vancouver series, though, and your seeming inability to give Vancouver and Luongo any creditÂ…and your obsession with Turco and your Â“dark horseÂ” Stars.And in spite of the fact that Luongo ultimately out-tended Turco (cf. save on Barnes, goal by Linden for comparison of clutch performances), you still point out (inaccurately - your GAA stats are wrong) Turco's slight numerical edge in the series. Give your head a shake!Otherwise, great work though - keep up the anti-Cherry, anti-fighting campaign.
Thanks for the first and last sentences of that letter. A lot of good my Â“obsessionÂ” with Dallas did me (and for the second straight year, I might add). However, I still think, had Sergei Zubov been around for Game 7, the result would have been different.
As for my statistical accuracy: Luongo had a better save percentage than Turco, but Turco allowed 11 goals in the series and lost. Luongo allowed 12 and won. No debating those numbers. Turco gave his team chance after chance to win, so he deserves at least as much credit as Luongo.
It's not that I don't appreciate what Dave Nonis and Luongo have done in Van-city; I just believe the Canucks' inability to score Â– a fact underscored in Game 1 of their second-round set with Anaheim Â– will be their ultimate undoing.
And they're not alone. Minnesota and Calgary also got some standout performances from Niklas Backstrom and Miikka Kiprusoff, but both teams were eliminated because they couldn't put it together on Â‘O'. If the Canucks turn things around, I'll be happy to lather up the praise bucket and dump it all over them.
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