Saturday, February 7, 2009

Greg Shepherd, Doug Spencer, WCHA get it wrong

(Photo courtesy of The Hallucination)

Fom Todd's article yesterday regarding recent ugly incidents in college hockey:

WCHA supervisor of officials Greg Shepherd doesn't consider the recent situations to be an indicator of a lack of respect. Rather, he said, the importance of every game considering the tight league standings has ramped things up.

"It's so heated right now that every wrong move or every call has such an impact in the game that it gets tough," Shepherd said. "They're fighting for position, and sometimes you can't blame them."

Well, that's great, Greg. Let's just blame the importance of the games. That makes sense. Ummm, if the games weren't important, why bother playing, and you and your officials wouldn't have a job. Maybe the officials should do a better job of consistently calling games and keeping the games under control. Because that's their job. Especially during important games.

He added that referees need to make sure they're at the top of their games at this point of the season, too, but offered that they have already been making the right calls regarding the major penalties.

Again, that's great, Greg. I'm glad you realize the officials need to be at the top of their games. I just wish they actually would be. We'll have to agree to disagree on your assertion that they're making the right calls. I think they're inconsistent, and I think they lose control of the games on a fairly regular basis.

Lucia said that he can't pin the blame on referees for those kinds of situations because all they can do is react.

That's funny, because I'm pretty sure Lucia does blame the refs for a lot of those situations, and he pretty much said as much to the Star Trib:

Gophers coach Don Lucia, speaking on his half-hour WCCO-radio show in the evening, said he talked with someone from the WCHA earlier in the day about the weekend games which the Mavericks swept 6-2 and 3-1.

He said he told the conference official — my guess is it was Greg Shepherd, the supervisor of officials – that the WCHA is not doing enough to protect its players.

“It was an ugly game [Friday] as we all saw with some of the physical stuff that went on,” Lucia said.

And honesty, if you're going to fall back on the assertion that "all they can do is react", well then they'd better do a better job of reacting. How well did they react to Grotting's beatdown on Patrick White? That should've been stopped when the players hit the ice. IIRC, the linesmen were tied up with other fights but both refs were standing there doing nothing. (Ok, one ref was taking down penalties, the other was standing doing nothing. Both were useless.) And that's not the first time the refs have stood and watched a fight that should've been stopped, and you know it won't be the last.

Oh, and let's not forge Doug Spencer's remarks (in the same Star Trib article):

Doug Spencer, the WCHA’s associate commissioner for public relations, said the league usually spends Mondays reviewing any controversial incidents that happen over the weekend and typically announces added punishment, if any, on Tuesdays.

Asked whether Boe’s season-ending injury makes it more likely Schack will receive an additonal penalty, Spencer implied no. “From what I heard,” Spencer said, “there was a big pileup. Somebody’s knee [or ankle in Boe’s case] can get bent in those.”

Yeah, Doug, broken legs happen in pile-ups, that make sense. I guess there's no one to blame, then.

Here's what Chris from WCH had to say.

Ya know, maybe said pileup wouldn't have happened had Schack not tackled Boe from behind. That's why doing that is dangerous, and should probably be called for more than just a two-minute penalty. Though on the topic of protecting the players, if no further discipline comes down on Schack, that would mark the third Minnesota State player this season to miss at least two weekends of hockey because of an infraction that only drew a two-minute penalty, with Todd Anderson and Brad Shepherd being the officiating crew on two of them. Your move, Pete Friesma and Don Adam.

I think Schack did end up with a DQ, but it's interesting to hear that 2 other Mankato players besides Boe have missed at least 2 weekends due to infractions that drew only 2-min penalties.

And even though Schack got the DQ, Star Trib journalist Roman Augustoviz (again, same article) thought Schack deserved something additional:

I expect Schack to get an added penalty from this incident. He started a fight, tried to beat a player who couldn’t defend himself and who wasn’t wearing a helmet.

Aw, come on Roman, don't be so harsh, pile-ups happen, and broken legs happen during pile-ups, right?