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NHL names officials for 2011 playoffs; Will they actually use their whistles?

Apr 11, 2011, 11:58 PM EST

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The NHL named the 20 referees and 20 officials who will legislate the 2011 playoffs today. Some of the familiar names include Paul Devorski, Stephen Walkom and Dan O’Halloran, but if you really need to know every guy you’ll eventually heckle during the next two-plus months, they’re listed at the bottom of this post.

This list of referees brings up an important question, though: will the NHL send them a message to actually make calls during the playoffs or will the pervasive “just let ‘em play” illogic prevail?

Instead of boring you with fractions and decimals, the easiest way to notice the fact that the league is starting to sink back into those ugly, pre-lockout habits can be seen in the scoring leaders. Daniel Sedin’s 104 points is the lowest Art Ross Trophy-winning total since Martin St. Louis won it with 94 in 2003-04 while Corey Perry was the only player in the league to hit 50 goals.

Referees are turning a blind eye to instances of obstruction and interference more and more, if you ask me (and many other increasingly concerned observers). One might look at a subtle pick or a moderate grab as a “part of the game,” but these tactics allow slow, lower-skill players to dumb the game down when hockey should be opening every door for the fastest, most talented guys to shine.

As Mike Chen astutely points out, the beginning of the 2011 playoffs could provide the league with an opportunity to send a message about making the proper calls rather than swallowing whistles to silence angry fans and whiny coaches.

More and more first-time and returning fans will gravitate toward these games as the postseason goes on, so why not display the sport at its best instead of allowing mediocre teams to muck things up with their clutching and grabbing?

Chances are, things will just get worse because of that aforementioned “just let ‘em play” mentality, especially since the league has been getting off the hook lately. For the last three seasons, luck has been on the NHL’s side when it comes to high-profile, elite teams meeting in the Stanley Cup finals. If they let the on-ice mugging (er, I mean “defense”) go too far, we could be in for another New Jersey Devils-Anaheim Ducks-type snooze fest.

Hopefully the cream will rise to the top, but here are the list of officials who will be given the power to allow the best to be the best (or not). (List via NHL.com.)

Referees (20):
Paul Devorski
Eric Furlatt
Marc Joannette
Greg Kimmerly
Steve Kozari
Dennis LaRue
Chris Lee
Wes McCauley
Brad Meier
Dan O’Halloran
Dan O’Rourke
Tim Peel
Brian Pochmara
Kevin Pollock
Chris Rooney
Francois St. Laurent
Kelly Sutherland
Stephen Walkom
Ian Walsh
Brad Watson

Linesmen (20):
Derek Amell
Steve Barton
David Brisebois
Scott Cherrey
Greg Devorski
Pat Driscoll
Ryan Galloway
Shane Heyer
Brad Kovachik
Brad Lazarowich
Steve Miller
Jean Morin
Brian Murphy
Jonny Murray
Derek Nansen
Tim Nowak
Pierre Racicot
Tony Sericolo
Jay Sharrers
Mark Wheler

  1. cshearing - Apr 12, 2011 at 9:32 AM

    I have a huge problem with your basic assertions here. I have noticed little to no change in how the game is officiated with regards to obstruction calls. Scoring is decreasing simply because defensive players and coaches are getting used to the new rules, and finding ways to defend intelligently within them.

    • balewsquare - Apr 12, 2011 at 12:33 PM

      The most noticeable change to me is on dump-ins. Watch how the near-side Dman hinders the forward’s progress, then, to avoid a penalty, turns towards the puck. At this point he just decides to slow down, because he must have forgot that the forechecker is behind him trying to get into the zone. This gives plenty of time for the weak-side Dman to retrieve the puck and start a breakout with very little pressure in his face.

      It’s minimal, but for a while it was not allowed at all, so it’s just one step closer to once again allowing the first defenseman to flat-out manhandling the forechecker like he’s a gunner in football.

  2. emperor83 - Apr 13, 2011 at 11:31 AM

    Refs tend to get VERY whistle happy, as long as they get to penalize Sabres…

  3. homelanddefense - Apr 14, 2011 at 1:00 PM

    wait until you see how many calls the Canadiens get up in Montreal. Its bad enough that they are divers, but now the Chara thing will make people more sensitive.

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