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Referees playing favorites?

Derek Boogaard of the New York Rangers talks to referee Kevin Pollock in a game against the Buffalo Sabres. (Photo by Bill Wippert/NHLI via Getty Images)

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Derek Boogaard of the New York Rangers talks to referee Kevin Pollock in a game against the Buffalo Sabres. (Photo by Bill Wippert/NHLI via Getty Images)

Stop me if you’ve heard this one before – the Phoenix Coyotes have a new owner lined up! My favorite part of Darren Dreger’s report was the use of the word “conceptually.” Have a look:

“Sources say that Chicago based businessman Matthew Hulsizer, the NHL, and the city of Glendale have conceptually agreed to a deal that would see Hulsizer become the new owner of the Phoenix Coyotes.”

I’m guessing an extension of the conceptualization is (a) that the team won’t lose millions every year, and (b) that fans will sell out the arena for 41 regular season games. Conceptually speaking, that should be conceptually marvelous.

Now, on to your carefully conceived questions:

Adam, I've been pondering this question for a few days now: what if the NHL scraps the overseas premiere games at the beginning of the season and chooses four or six teams that don’t make the playoffs to go once the regular season is over?

This way, you don't have teams coming out of the gate tired and jet lagged once they get back to North America and the non-playoff teams could still put on quite a show for the European crowds. I believe this would benefit the NHL teams and their start of the season, especially the ones that will eventually end up in the playoffs. What do you think?
Jeff Ferris, Miramichi, N.B.


Jeff,

I like your creative thinking, but practically speaking, it would never happen. By the end of the season, most teams (especially non-playoff teams) are broken-down, cranky and in no mood to embark on a trip that’s taxing in terms of travel, but also in terms of media availability.

More importantly, with absolutely nothing to play for, the level of competition in those games would make the NFL’s season-concluding Pro Bowl look like Ali/Foreman’s Rumble in the Jungle.

Hey Adam, I was wondering why the American League affiliates of NHL teams are nowhere near the NHL city. For example, Vancouver’s AHL affiliate is in Manitoba, while Calgary’s is in Abbotsford, B.C.. Why isn’t it the other way around?
Jonny Wilson, Richmond, B.C.


Hey Jonny,

In some cases, AHL teams will be in the same city, as is the case with the Toronto Marlies and Maple Leafs. In the recent past, Philadelphia housed the Flyers and Phantoms.

As for the others, they have to go to cities where people want to see AHL hockey. You simply can’t pick a town that’s close to you, drop in an AHL franchise and expect it to work.

Hey Adam, do players get a cut of the money when people buy jerseys with their name and number on it?
Wayne Gibb, Christopher Lake, Sask.


Hey Wayne,

Any and all NHL merchandising, including jerseys, falls under the hockey-related revenue part of the collective bargaining agreement; as such, players receive 54 percent of those sales.

Adam, With what Brian Burke has managed to do in almost two years of control of the Maple Leafs roster, do you feel that Burke's approach of acquiring NHL-ready talent for draft picks is a legitimate strategy to get the Leafs back to prominence?
Blake O'Brien, Summerside, P.E.I.


Blake,

I don’t think you can say the only way to build a Stanley Cup-contending NHL team is to go the Pittsburgh/Washington route of stinking to high heaven for a few years, then reaping the rewards with franchise players from the draft.

That said, it seems to me that is the safest way to do it – and that Burke’s plan could still go pear-shaped, either this season or beyond. And the idea that Toronto fans would not tolerate year after year of losing is absolute nonsense; as the past four decades have demonstrated, Toronto fans will tolerate anything. Maybe if this administration fails, Leafs ownership will admit they’ve been wrong and change philosophical course.

Dear Adam, Is it me, or does it seem like the refs tend to call more penalties on smaller-market teams when they play against bigger-market teams?

Take the Avs for instance. Denver isn't a huge market like Chicago or Philly. And in the game against Chicago it seemed like the penalty count favored Chicago big time (almost 2-1). And then in Philly with the Craig Anderson diving call to counter the goaltender interference? And let's throw in the Sharks-Avs series last year in the playoffs when it seemed like every penalty was against the Avs, some of them feeling like they were made up out of thin air.

I am a referee and believe the NHL puts out the best officials in the world. I know how hard it is to see every penalty, but also how easy it is to get tunnel vision and look for penalties on certain teams. So could it be that the NHL is persuading its refs to favor bigger-market teams so the league gets the big TV contract it has been wanting ever since the lockout?

Plus, throw in the Sid vs. Ovie matchup in this year’s Winter Classic; doesn't it feel like the NHL is favoring those big-market teams? Am I just finding a way to throw stones at the worst commissioner in sports history, or do you see what I'm seeing? Sincerely,
Kevin, Arvada, Col.


Dear Kevin,

No, I’m afraid it’s you.

And I’m a little surprised a guy who is a referee would be insinuating that the league and its officials are in cahoots to provide unfair advantages to big-market teams; if that’s true, I suppose NHL refs must have missed the memo when Tampa Bay, Carolina and Anaheim won Stanley Cups.

Follow Adam's hockey tweets at twitter.com/TheHockeyNews, and his non-hockey observations at twitter.com/ProteauType.

Adam Proteau, co-author of the book The Top 60 Since 1967, is writer and columnist for The Hockey News and a regular contributor to THN.com. His blog appears Thursdays and his Ask Adam feature appears Fridays.

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