Sunday, June 5, 2011

Saturday . . .

“Brantt Myhres has been to the dark side . . . again and again and again and again . . . and again.
And now the 34-year-old former National Hockey League tough guy wants to give back, wants to share his knowledge, wants to help players who are struggling with substance abuse.”
So begins a solid story by John Down of the Calgary Herald. The entire story is right here and it’s a good read, providing yet more insight into the lives led by professional hockey’s enforcers.
If you are wondering what happened to the QMJHL’s Lewiston Maineiacs, Kalle Oakes of the Lewiston Sun Journal has the story right here. It’s a column and it’s a good one. If you live in a city that has a WHL franchise, you definitely will want to read this piece.
In Binghamton, N.Y., F Zack Smith (Swift Current, 2004-08) scored twice on Saturday night, leading the Senators to a 4-2 victory over the Houston Aeros in Game 5 of the AHL final. . . . The Senators lead the best-of-seven series 3-2, with Game 5 in Houston on Tuesday. . . . A seventh game, if needed, will be played in Houston on Thursday. . . . Binghamton G Robin Lehner posted a 3-0 shutout on Friday and stopped 41 shots one night later. . . . Attendance was 4,727. . . . Smith scored the game’s last two goals, breaking a 2-2 tie on the PP with nine seconds left in the second period and adding insurance at 15:56 of the third. . . . The Aeros were without F Cody Almond (Kelowna, 2005-09), who suffered a leg injury Friday, and then lost D Jared Spurgeon (Spokane, 2005-10) in Game 5. He didn’t return after taking a check in the second period.
“Knowing your stance on WHL officiating it’s not surprising this has snuck by,” started the comment from an anonymous reader of this blog. He/she went on to point out that “former WHL referees Kelly Sutherland (Vancity product) and Steve Kozari (Penticton product) made the SCF and SCSF respectively.”
Honestly, I don’t know what to make of the start of the comment because it’s been a long, long time since I was critical of any WHL referee or linesman.
In the late 1970s/early 1980s I was often harshly critical of WHL referees. As a young sports journalist I likely thought it was the thing to do . . . the power of the pen and all that, I suppose.
And then one day the phone rang. It was Ed Chynoweth calling. The man who ran the WHL didn’t sound upset or angry, but it was obvious that this was a time for me to listen. He explained the WHL officiating system, pointing out how the league works to develop officials the same way it develops players.
More than that, though, Chynoweth reminded me that these on-ice officials are out there giving it their all. Sure, some of these guys have bad nights, but don’t you ever have a bad day/night at work?
Now . . . if the anonymous commenter — are there any other kind? — was referring to my opinion of the WHL’s two-man referee system, well, that’s entirely different.
I don’t like the two-man system, but, hey, I’m hardly alone. In fact, I would suggest that the vast majority of WHL general managers and head coaches are in the same boat.
I have long felt that the WHL would develop better referees quicker if it went back to the one-man system. That, however, is beating a dead horse because it won’t happen, at least it won’t as long as the NHL uses the two-man system.
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