Monday, May 27, 2013

NCHC Forges New Standards for Officiating

One of the hot-button issues that fans of the newly formed NCHC are very concerned about, is how the games are going to be officiated.
The next question is; who’s going to be the officials for the NCHC next season? One of the things I heard next is, please tell me that ref so-and-so isn’t going to be calling games next season in the NCHC?
As the conversation progresses, the next question usually is how are the games going to be called? Are the “big hits” going to be penalized?
Let me tell you, there’s a lot of cynicism surrounding the NCHC as they announce their new officiating standards.
Personally, I know that I have my list of officials that I don’t want to see officiating any of the games in the NCHC next season. I have not heard who the league has selected, and if they have selected anyone as of yet. I know they solicited applications and that May 15, 2013, was the last day that they were taking applications for the officiating positions.
Last season, there was no consistency from game-to-game on how the games are officiated, and this was a problem college hockey wide, and it’s very frustrating for college hockey fans. This is unacceptable in my opinion. Instead of having the players adjusting to the officials, why not have officials that are good enough to make the proper calls.
In my opinion, college hockey officiating during the past few years has been questionable at best; there have been a lot of blown calls with little explanation of why the calls were made. Legal checks have been called five minute majors. Obstruction and stick fouls in the offensive zone have gone uncalled. Line calls have been bad as well. I don’t know how many times I saw a goal scored off a blown off-sides call.
On May 23, 2013, the National Collegiate Hockey Conference released its “official” plan on how the league is going to supervise, train and manage their on-ice officials. On paper, it would appear that the new league is concerned about optics and doesn’t want to have a repeat of how the current WCHA manages its on-ice officials.
You can read the NCHC Press Release here. Here are some of the interesting things that came out of the press release.
“One of the key goals for our conference is to develop one of the best officiating programs in the country,” Director of Hockey Operations Joe Novak said.
That’s not all that going to happen, there’s going to be pre-season camp to educate the new NCHC officials.
“We will extend our expectations to the officials before they come to camp and then provide them with very detailed and focused sessions once they do arrive,” Head of officials Don Adam said. “We want to educate our officials in every way possible which includes, but is not limited to: skating, positioning, rules and interpretations, and the mental aspect of officiating. We will be utilizing video as a teaching tool throughout the season, while communicating with our officials on a regular basis. Our training program is a culmination of our collective officiating experience, which includes the collegiate, professional and international hockey levels. We will always strive to develop one of the best staffs in the country.”
One of the major keys of this announcement is that the NCHC will be utilizing a relationship with USA Hockey and this should be useful for developing and identifying future on-ice officials.
“Our league has already established a formidable relationship with Scott Brand and USA Hockey’sJunior Officiating Development Program” Adam said. “This relationship will assist us in identifying future collegiate officials.”
USHL Officials for instance, have to be certified by the USA Hockey and I believe that they are some of best on-ice officials in amateur hockey. I also believe that college hockey should use high standards when selecting officials to be utilized to officiate college hockey games. You should not be selected based on who you’re related to or who you’re friends with. You should be selected based on skill and knowledge, not on family lineage.
Now, this plan looks good when you read it on paper. Going forward, it will be interesting to see how this “actually” plays out, once it’s “actually” executed and comes to fruition. If the NCHC decides to employ the same usual suspects from the WCHA, then this is nothing more than just fancy lip service. In the end talk is cheap, we need to see action, or this will end up being nothing more than a fancy plan that isn’t worth lining a bird cage with.
If the NCHC employs the same brutal officials that have been officiating games for the WCHA, then the NCHC is going to have the same shoddy on ice product that the WCHA has had the last 4-5 seasons. We soon will find out. Developing…
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