Dang Zebras, Drop The Puck!
Here comes the Razorboy compliment sandwich.
I have great admiration for what the men in stripes do on a day in and day out basis in the NHL. It's the world's fastest game played by a collection of whiners - or more delicately put, lobbyists - with Big Brother second guessing/exposing the officials every decision. They travel like Gypsies, a lot of the time making their way to the next assignment day of game, and when they arrive their workplace environment is both dangerous and hostile.
They are good men, these NHL referees and linesmen.
That said, I am at wits end from trying to understand what the standards are for penalties and why the pool of linesmen have taken it upon themselves to hold the game hostage every time a puck needs to be dropped to resume play.
I know that players have adjusted to the "new rules" (lord, it was 7 years ago that they were introduced) and I actually prefer to watch/broadcast games that are officiated by refs who "manage the game" and/or "let them play" a little when the games are on the line - that's hockey. But at the same time, a lot of what we have come to expect to be a penalty doesn't seem to be - at least not consistently.
Regarding the face-offs, it's the constant haggling and dismissing and delaying on what are supposed to be "hurry-up face-offs" (instituted in 2002) that seems to have reached ludicrous stage and is trying patience. Its like a lot of linesmen have contracted some sort of God-complex. Just drop the puck. Oh sure, be a bit more stern with draws in the attacking zone, but please, please, in the neutral zone and especially on the logo at center-ice just drop the puck.
A few years back they would drop it even if a team's center weren't there yet. When was the last time you saw that? As well, it appears they've stopped even threatening to kick the replacement out of the face-off and assessing the 2 minute penalty that goes along with that mythical infraction.
In soccer the throw-ins are conducted with fluidity, as are handballs at mid-field. Just get the game going again seems to be their goal. It should be ours too. Wasn't that the point?
In basketball, throw-ins are rather immediate and it's the players, not the officials, who slow up the free throws. (All you ballers out there, stop with the touch-hands time waster after every attempt. Just stop it.)
My suggestion to hockey would be to have both players put their sticks down on the dot at the same time and leave them there in preparation for the puck drop. Currently the road team's player has to put his down first. This rule does two unnecessary things: It allows the home player to have an advantage, which makes no sense to me. Why does he deserve an advantage? And, it fuels the jockeying and jawing that ultimately leads to all the delays.
This current state of on-ice arbiting seems fixable; Especially considering all the good, hard-working guys the NHL has on its officiating crews. They are prepared. They have impeccable integrity. And their bosses, I do believe, hold them accountable.
All that's needed is a hard reassessment of how they are governing these games and the fifty some odd face-offs that each contest houses.
To me it's either re-rack, or redefine.