Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Day 31, Rules 31 and 32

The games: Anaheim vs. Dallas (12/8) and New York Rangers vs. Chicago (12/9).

Why I chose them: I still believe in Anaheim, even if they don't believe in themselves. And the other - it's an original six matchup, it's below freezing outside, it's Wednesday. I have heat, Center Ice, large foofoo blanket and red wine. Enough said.

My favorite play: Dan Sexton -- playing in only his third NHL game -- getting the game tying goal in the third period, which propelled Anaheim to an overtime victory over Dallas.

The rules: Section 5, Officials. Rule 31, Appointment of Officials. Rule 32, Referees.

Number of sections in the rules: Rule 31: 2. Rule 32: 11.

Definition: Rule 31 is two sections long and just basically gives the Commissioner the right to appoint the refs, linesmen, on-ice officials, and video goal judge for each game. Rule 32 is more lengthy and provides a complete guide to the rights and duties of the referees, including: attire and equipment, disputes, face-offs, general duties, goals, off-ice officials, penalties, players' uniforms, reports, start and end of game periods and unable to continue. It also outlines how the goal/assist and penalties will be announced over the public address system.

Things I didn't know but should have because I sit around thinking about, watching or reading about hockey for at least 6 hours every day:

32.7, Penalties: Where players of both teams are penalized on the same play, the penalty to the visiting player shall be announced first. When a penalty is imposed by the Referee, which calls for a mandatory or automatic fine, only the time portion of the penalty will be reported by the Referee to the Official Scorer and announced over the public address system, and the fine will be collected through the League office.

32.10, Start and End of Game Periods: The Referees shall remain on the ice at the conclusion of each period until all players have proceeded to their dressing rooms.

But this is the best: 32.11, Unable to continue. If, through misadventure or sickness, the Referees and Linesman appointed are prevented from appearing, the League shall make every attempt to find suitable replacement officials, otherwise the Managers or Coaches of the two Clubs shall agree on Referees and Linesman. Misadventure? So, in case the refs and/or linesmen go on a weeklong extravaganza to South America and get lost or kidnapped while kayaking in the Amazon Rain forest (what's left of it), the League will sort it out in their absence? I love it. If it's NHL season, and you're a ref, forget that little weekend trip to Costa Rica to go scuba diving and get out of freezing rinks. You might have a misadventure and miss a game.

The final score: Anaheim 4, Dallas 3 in OT after the Ducks rallied from a 3-0 deficit in the second period. Chicago 2, New York 1 (in OT).

Morals of the story:

The game: As fans, we assume the referees' and linesmen's jobs start when they enter the ice and we start booing them. But it starts well before that and continues after the game. Plus, they have to break up fights, calm down angry players and captains, put up with fans' crap and get verbally and physically abused. In the WHL, most of the refs have day jobs. One of the most respected is a corporate lawyer in Vancouver. Some are cops. It's perfect. Men who are used to people hating them and who are accustomed to enforcing the law in some way. Who better to watch the lines and keep the peace? Game on, boys.

And fellow fans/armchair refs (myself included), let's face it: We're in the stands eating food where 100 percent of the calories come from fat, drinking beer and wishing we could trade places with the players. We're above the glass, we're not responsible for calls that could change a game and some of us haven't seen the inside of a gym since the temperature outside was above 70 degrees. Players come and go in short shifts so as to give them a rest now and again. Refs and linesmen don't get replaced by the third or fourth line - they skate the full two to three hours (or more in OT or shootouts). They don't get a break to go have misadventures. And something tells me they're not making player-sized million dollar salaries. The next time they levy an unfair call, give 'em a break with a small b. What referees have to deal with before, during and after a game isn't fair either.

Life: In hockey, officials are responsible for everything from uniforms to making sure the off-ice officials are in their place and teams have reported for duty. Their work starts before they set foot on the ice and they have to hangout until the players have exited. Corporate America needs a referee and linesman system. A company should have a miminum of one ref and two linesman to monitor the coming and going of all employees and their daily activities (including executives). Duties would include:

Arriving at the office before the official opening and monitoring the nearby coffee shops and restaurants to ensure that no employees (especially those whose title is director or above) are taking a three-hour coffee break at Starbucks or building paper clip forts while ignoring important company news during conference calls.

Circling the office at five-minute intervals to break up fights over corporate takeovers, media consolidation and the like (also referred to as discussions in which both parties agree to "touch base to see where we are with this in a few days"), listen in on phone calls and read over people's shoulders to prevent insider trading, and break a vital part on the paper shredder to prevent the destruction of potentially incriminating evidence.

Remaining at the office until all employees have left the building to ensure that no one stays behind to move a few numbers around on a spreadsheet, delete a few suspicious emails, backdate some stock options, get their freak on with the executive assistant or call their girlfriend in Ireland on the company's dime.

Next up on 12/11: Section 5, Officials. Rule 33, Linesmen.

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