Thursday, November 23, 2006

I could have been a contender!

Wow, I never knew I shared the same day of birth as a real hockey great. I feel honored.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

No more hair helmets!

This is worth another post today. I never thought I would witness this in my life time. What is the world coming to?

Let's Take A Look at a Hockey Referee

Here is one of my favorite training tools out of Hockey Canada and the Ontario Hockey Officials Association. I repost it places from time to time to remind people who my brothers and I are.


Let's "take a look" at the official who is alleged to be responsible for the inability of players to score goals and teams to win games. He is the living barrier who mysteriously transforms victory to defeat. What are his qualifications and is there anything to be said in his defense?

In the first place, the IDEAL referee must be an apt student, who is letter perfect in the laws of hockey and their interpretation. Unlike judges in our courts, he must see the crime, identify the offence, and hand out the sentence - not later in the day, tomorrow or next month, but all within seconds.

Next, the IDEAL referee must be a good skater and physically sound. A player can get frequent relief, but officials must be on the ice for the entire game. Moreover, hockey officials are expected to act as peace officers and prevent crime by restraining angry players who are intent upon "beating up" their opponents.

An IDEAL referee, and there is no such person, should have the speed of a sprinter, the endurance of a marathoner, the tact of a diplomat, the mind of a professor and the unruffled demeanor of a supreme court judge. It would also help if he had 20-20 vision and was stone deaf.

Fans, players, coaches and management alike expect too much of officials. Few players ever think their sentence was deserved; coaches shriek in anguish at a borderline off-side call; and fans view with alarm, every decision that goes against their favorites. Yet contrastingly, a judge has his judgment appealed and his decision repealed without loss of prestige. No less than perfection is expected from the versatile hockey official.

It is an old but valid argument that referees don't make the rules; they are merely agents charged with the responsibility of enforcing the laws as provided by the rule book. The fact that players trip, charge, spear, or high-stick is not the referee's fault any more than a police officer is responsible for the actions of offenders who break society's laws.

Few men are so constituted that they can suffer silently while they are publicly criticized. While it is unlikely that hockey's governing bodies will do much to ease the referee's life while the sport is enjoying a prolific boom, it does seem that there should be less official criticism of referees and linesman. For instance, it isn't fair to second guess them with slow motion film. The man on the ice has to call the play instantly; he can't wait for the crowd to tell him and he can't see what goes on behind his back. Neither can he ponder over border line incidents in his private chambers or delay a decision momentarily while waiting the instant replay. He just has to do the best he can based on his years of experience. He doesn't expect to be popular; but he has a right to be recognized as the representative of the law makers and to be spared from public humiliation and criticism from those who are themselves involved in the development of the sport.

Certainly, hockey cannot exist without officials; so we had better learn to live with them and, who knows, we might even learn to like them.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Nice Night for a set of Orange Bands

Wednesday night was the first time I had been asked to wear the bands for a set of high school games this season. I just received my new ref sweater with the sewn in bands which I was thrilled to get to try out. I also got my first ever set of shin tights and some new runners for my t-blades.

The sweater worked out awesome, the shin tights did what I wanted, and the t-blades put me on my ass more than once that night. Nothing better than watching a hockey official fall down. It's way more memorable when you are the head ref of the game too. I got lucky in that game and it wasn't anything with my skating skill that took me out.

I was at about mach 2 headed down the ice chasing the play when a player came from the bench for a line change. Let's just say he didn't stand a chance. He forgot to look both ways before crossing the railroad tracks and got hit by locomotive BluesCityRef at full speed. The only way to attract more attention would have been to had an explosion happen at the same time.

Luckily no one was hurt during the collision (most importantly me) and I was able to spring back to my feet instantly. That was just the beginning of the night for everyone.

Earlier in the day a phone conversation had frustrated me. When she called me back later I was on the way to the game so I ignored the call. I don't ever do that to anyone (especially her) but I had to get my head straight for the game and was afraid something might rattle my mental capacity right then. I turned on the music loud in the car to try and focus on something else. It didn't help.

Come game time I wasn't dwelling on anything left over but it had to remain in the back of my mind. Hockey's an emotional game and sometimes the days emotions can carry into it. At the end of the game I had called 14 penalties on one team and 13 on the other. I broke the record for most calls this year by 6. I was fired up enough that I wasn't taking shit from anyone. A little mouthy-ness was worth a trip to the box that night.

I had two coaches in penalty trouble and one player in jeopardy of not being able to play their next games. I've never had a night like that in my career ever. I'm usually the ref that lets things slide and get evened up. Guess I should go to the rink a little pissed more often. Nah, then none of us are having any fun.