NHL fans are getting a healthy dose of all possible camera angles this off season as the league takes every possible step to ensure that goals are rewarded properly. By and large, I have to say, they have done a good job.
With apologies to Mike Ross of XM Radio, Thomas Vanek's disallowed goal was so blatantly obvious a call that Mick McGeough would have made it-and even have been correct this time. I understand the complaints, because it can be a very tedious process, but considering the quality of some of the on-ice officials, I'd like to be sure that a goal is a goal, is a goal.
That brings me to the Refs. A lot of them do a good job. The problem is far too many of them don't. I don't mean making ticky-tack calls that wouldn't have been called in 2004. I also don't mean putting away the whistle for all but the most obvious sins and transgressions.
No, I mean the inconsistency that plagues the NHL. Look at the Ottawa Buffalo game I spoke of earlier. I consider Don van Massenhoven to be a very good ref. However, he and Dan O'Halloran combined to officiate one of the worst arbited games of the season.
I am a huge believer in consistency. Calls you make in the first should be made in the third, no matter the score, time remaining, or who the guilty party is. It allows players to be comfortable and go out and do their jobs, without having to worry if something that was OK in the first is suddenly a penalty in the second.
So, if you're a "let 'em play" kind of ref, great. Avoid the borderline calls for sixty minutes. If you're a hardline guy, then keep the whistle handy. Either way, you have to call the blatant stuff, like the Alfredsson boarding on Hank Tallinder in OT.
When you ignore that, then make a make-up call two minutes later, it compounds the mess. Not only are you admitting you screwed the pooch, you now show that you're willing to play favorites when you know you're wrong. Not good for a guy that has to be an impartial judge.
The easiest way to gain a measure of consistency would be to return to the one ref system. It worked pretty well for almost 100 years, so it couldn't have been that flawed. Amend it to allow the linesmen to call certain penalties behind the play, which would clear up the risks of guys taking runs while the ref's back is turned.
If that isn't workable or agreeable, do a better job of teaming refs. If you have a guy like Chris Lee, who calls everything, don't team him with a more liberal ref like McGeough. Then you have one guy calling everything and another who isn't-or it turns into a contest of who can make more calls.
When Rob Schick is your best ref, you are in trouble.