SUN Hockey Pool

Veteran refs being pushed aside

AL STRACHAN -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 9:47 AM ET

RALEIGH -- The National Hockey League continues to make the point that it is serious about changing its standards of officiating.

For proof, just look at who still is wearing the red armband in the conference finals.

During the course of the season, there was a feeling that some of the veteran referees remained too wedded to the old style and were too quick to adopt an attitude of "Let the players play."

It is no coincidence that of the top four NHL referees by seniority, three were relieved of further duty prior to the conference finals.

One of them, Dan Marouelli, worked only one round.

In that conference quarter-final, he was one of the officials, along with Dennis LaRue, who handled the game in which Saku Koivu of the Montreal Canadiens suffered a serious eye injury when he was clipped by the stick of Justin Williams of the Carolina Hurricanes.

DROPPED

The call -- or non-call -- was at LaRue's end of the rink, but both men were dropped from the rotation.

In the 2003 Stanley Cup final, Marouelli worked five of the seven games.

Two of the other senior-four NHL referees, Don Koharski and Kerry Fraser, were excused from further duty after two rounds.

The previous time the NHL staged its playoffs, Fraser worked the Stanley Cup final and outraged Calgary fans by calling coincidental minors to the Flames in Game 4.

The Tampa Bay Lightning scored on the two-minute five-on-three advantage and won 1-0.

The league's most senior referee, Bill McCreary, is one of the nine still working. So are No. 5 and No. 6. That's Rob Shick and Paul Devorski, respectively.

The other six active in this round are Mick McGeough, Dan O'Halloran, Mark Joanette, Eric Furlatt, Brad Watson and Don van Massenhoven.

For the Stanley Cup final, the league will drop five more referees.

And it may not be just the juniors.


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