Zero tolerance paying dividends for best refs

CHRIS STEVENSON -- Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 11:47 AM ET

Few fans would question the NHL has been consistent in carrying over the zero tolerance standard from the regular season to the playoffs.

In looking over the officials who are working in the third round of the playoffs (officials earn their post-season assignments on merit), it's clear there has been a bit of a changing of the guard.

The NHL has 43 referees and they are now down to nine in the conference finals.

The officials who call it the way the NHL wants it called get to keep working, but to say the veteran guys call it the way they want to call it wouldn't be accurate.

The remaining referees are a cross section of both veteran and young officials.

Dropped after the first round of the playoffs were veterans like Kerry Fraser and Don Koharski.

They are (listed in order of seniority): Bill McCreary, Rob Shick, Paul Devorski, Mick McGeough, Don VanMassenhoven, Dan O'Halloran, Brad Watson, Marc Joannette and Eric Furlatt.

Furlatt is the up-and-comer, having worked just 167 NHL games going into this season.

HEAR AND THERE: Former Renegade K Sandro Sciortino has recovered from testicular cancer and is fighting Paul McCallum for a job with the B.C. Lions. "Italians should be able to do two things well," said Lions coach Wally Buono, "kick footballs and mix cement."... Maybe it's just me, but I have trouble understanding the logic behind preventing Peter Chiarelli from beginning work as the Bruins GM before July 15. He will continue in his role as Senators assistant GM until then, through the critical free-agent period. That puts him in a conflict-of-interest situation, though I think he has much as integrity as anybody. If the Senators weren't going to let Chiarelli go now, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman should have just put him on the sidelines until July 15.

THE BUZZ: It was just an innocent-looking hit by Carolina's Mark Recchi, but it wound up putting Henrik Tallinder, maybe the Sabres' best defenceman, out for the rest of the playoffs. That's why you finish checks at this time of year ... Now you've seen just about everything: John Daly is going to have his own wine. The Bordeaux is going to be called "Perfect Round." For Long John, with his gambling debts and alimony payments, I got to figure a perfect round is one somebody else is paying for.

REVELATIONS: I don't know if there is a scarier situation for an NHL defenceman right now than Anaheim's Andy McDonald having a step on them ... The course setup at the U.S. Open at Winged Foot this year is going to have "step rough." It will cut at 1.5 inches, then 3.5 inches and finally five inches. The idea is to more harshly penalize shots the farther off line they go. With the way they're smashing the ball with super balls and big clubs and using irons with square grooves, it will be interesting to see if it matters.

SPECULATIONS: Something I don't really understand: NHL coaches' secrecy over their starting goaltender. If it's a question, there's not much to choose between them, right? Really, does it matter to the opponent who the goaltender is? You think the Oilers really changed their game plan much the other night when J.S. Giguere started over Ilja Bryzgalov? Or the Sabres when Martin Gerber replaced Cam Ward in the Carolina net? Do you think the opponents stopped saying, "Go to the net ... Get traffic in front ... Try for some dirty goals."?

LEMME SAY THIS ABOUT THAT: The CFL trumpeted its "salary management system," but what they need is an "owner management system." The owners rejected the system by a 5-3 vote, but apparently it's only a matter of time until it's implemented. Sure it is ... The CPGA Championship, founded in 1911, won't be held this year. It's another indication of the sorry state of men's professional golf in this country ... If I was a Bruins fan, I'd be worried about the situation there after Ray Shero turned down the GM's job. Apparently it wasn't just money that was a stumbling block, but "authority issues." Sounded like Harry Sinden would still be involved in player personnel decisions. For Chiarelli's sake, I hope he got some autonomy -- in writing.

JUST WONDERING: The Senators are apparently getting a second-round pick as compensation for the B's signing Chiarelli. He was captain of Harvard's hockey team. Despite his 13 points in four games in the British Hockey League in 1987-88 -- his one season of pro hockey according to hockeydb.com -- he probably never thought he'd be traded for a second-round draft pick in the NHL ... The Predators didn't demand compensation from the Penguins for signing Shero as Pittsburgh's GM. Apparently Nashville GM David Poile was campaigning for Shero to get a GM's job. I just think if a guy has a chance to get a promotion, a team shouldn't stand in his way ... "Gentlemen, start your engines," used to be a great moment on Memorial Day weekend. The Indy 500 has recovered a little of its lustre, but isn't the grandaddy it used to be and the sport's highest profile driver is now a woman.

---

SHOTS ON THE NET

Hey,

Somebody want to tell Frank Robinson that no matter how much it pains him to yank his spaghetti-armed, third-string catcher, there's no crying in baseball?

Thanks,

Tom Hanks

chris.stevenson@ott.sunpub.com


Videos

Photos