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NHL must put aside ego, come to its senses with officiating

Updated May 18, 2019 - 7:56 pm

It seems a small matter, the NBA expected to move up the start of its annual moratorium on free-agent negotiations.

If approved, such dialogue will begin June 30 at 6 p.m Eastern time.

It used to start July 1 at midnight.

This was commissioner Adam Silver on the proposed change: “I heard from several teams, ‘Does this really have to be at midnight?’ It’s one of those things that everybody looks at each other and says, ‘Why has it always been that way?’ It’s unclear. … I think we’re past that.”

It’s another way of saying his league has evolved.

Wouldn’t it be nice if the NHL followed such a lead in terms of its officiating?

So, you know, it wouldn’t appear like a complete clown show.

I know. The story grows more stale after each missed/terrible call. We’re talking decades-old moldy sourdough. You cling to that minuscule amount of hope like a capsized sailor to a buoy, the idea that archaic ways of doing business finally will be replaced with a more modern, progressive, insightful approach.

Then the 2019 playoffs arrive and you pretty much let go and drown.

This isn’t about the Sharks. They’re just the ones wearing the sweater of which critical calls have been bestowed.

The five-minute major and game misconduct against the Golden Knights. The offsides against Colorado. The hand pass against St. Louis.

It could be any team.

Of course, every Golden Knights fan walking the planet casting anger toward San Jose gladly would have their team trade places with the Sharks in a nanosecond, openly accepting such social media judgment and loathing if it meant Vegas was alive in the Western Conference final.

They hate the Sharks but really, really want to be them right now.

Truth is, San Jose is merely a supporting role in a blockbuster defined by obstinate suits, another example that professional sports leagues are mostly run by folks whose refusal to embrace the same technology that has altered the universe are coated in more arrogance than ignorance.

They’re smart enough to change, but egotistical enough not to.

Bill Foley says he wants to, and the Knights owner is on record stating he will push for instant replay on major penalties at the Board of Governors meeting.

I hope more listen and agree than not.

I mean, have you seen the NHL rulebook? It makes that colossal tome of nonsense from the NCAA look rational.

And don’t get me started (again) on the NHL’s drug policy. A total sham.

I hope a league such as the NHL that uses replay to disallow a goal for what might or might not have been offsides and had zero influence on the play, but not for major penalties, realizes how overwhelmingly idiotic that is.

I hope Foley stands up and questions how in the world a hand pass that leads to a game-winning goal is not reviewable, of which I now feel even dumber writing a sentence about because, well, nobody is nominating me for a MacArthur Fellowship.

More replay is an obvious need, but the suits are always a tough sell on that point.

Maybe other things can be done.

Fewer on-ice refs

“Take two (of the four) refs off the ice,” Carolina coach Rod Brind’Amour told ESPN. “Put them in the penalty box — have their skates on if they want. One guy can be watching the calls. The linesman can be watching the offsides. Get them out of the way. They’re getting in the way.

“It’s hard, the game is so fast. You watch how often the puck hits them. To me, you can get these calls done quickly and done right, and that’s all you want. As a player, as a coach, as a fan. You just want to make sure you get the calls right. I think. But we’ll see.”

It’s one idea. Ryan Wallis, who hosts the pregame and postgame shows for the Golden Knights on Fox Sports Radio, had another. He says the NHL should take one referee off the ice, put him in the press box with a monitor and have him rule on any debated call (like a hand pass that helps win a playoff game), which would take about five seconds.

I like that one a lot, although it might be tough these playoffs, given I’m not sure there are enough referees left to work after all those who have blown/missed calls were sent home for the summer.

I also know the odds of the NHL evolving and admitting that its system is incredibly flawed and making the correct adjustments ranks along the lines of Foley purchasing Sharks gear for his entire family.

Man, this buoy is getting slippery.

More Golden Knights: Follow at reviewjournal.com/GoldenKnights and @HockeyinVegas on Twitter.

Contact columnist Ed Graney at egraney@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-4618. He can be heard on “The Press Box,” ESPN Radio 100.9 FM and 1100 AM, from 7 a.m. to 10 a.m. Monday through Friday. Follow @edgraney on Twitter.

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