THE TOUGHEST SPORT TO REFEREE
Interesting discussions about refereeing now that the Raptors have captured the imagination of the casual fan base. It was felt that the Brooklyn Nets were getting more than their fair share of "reputation calls" as they are more of a playoff tested team than the fledgling Raptors. No secret that the uniform and name on your back play a role in how a team is officiated. If you are a star, chances are you're going to be given a little latitude. Paul Jones, play by play voice of the Raps opined that basketball was the toughest sport to ref, which to me is laughable. It's tough no doubt, but you have three sets of eyes, all with the same standing in the game, i.e. no linesman, or assistant referees. Hockey has four officials on the ice and is much more of a contact/collision game as well as the sheer velocity of the sport. Soccer has one referee, two assistant referees, a larger playing surface and more things to manage overall. Give me hockey, and soccer as the two toughest sports to referee. Basketball? Sorry, it is not even close.
Not much to say about the Hamilton Bulldogs that has not already been said. The team lacked scoring, did not win consistently at home and the power play was a detriment as opposed to being beneficial. In February the Bulldogs had started to creep back into the playoff race and had three games at home in three days. They lost all three in regulation and basically were playing significant catch up hockey. The good news was the attendance remained fairly steady when the Dogs played at home on Friday, Saturday or Sunday and averaged 5 500 for the season. They are looking to reach 6 500- 7 000 next year. For me personally I enjoyed calling the games from the Bill Stirrup press box, and eventually managed my fear of heights and the daunting cat walk clamber. First Ontario Centre (formerly Copps) has improved as a venue. The scoreboard is very good, the ring advertising adds a professional touch, as do the dark blue seats. Good to seen some capital being put into the product off the ice. On the ice, changes need to be made as this is the 3rd straight year the Dogs have not made the playoffs. Coach Sylvain Lefebvre is safe it appears, so players need to elevate their game, and I'm sure new faces will be brought in.
If you would have told me that North Bay would lead Oshawa 3-0 and Guelph would lead Erie 3-1, I would have cried foul. Yet here we are. North Bay, whom the IceDogs gave all they could handle, was one period away from elimination. They've gone 10-2 since falling behind 3-1 vs the IceDog and have been stifling. The Battalion have 3 vets in Barclary Goodrow, Matt MacLeod and Ben Thomson who have over 900 combined games of OHL experience. That , along with wily Stan Butler, have to count for something. I thought Erie and Guelph would be a war, and it might be with the series not rolling the credits just yet. Guelph, however, have looked awfully strong against Erie and look to be a good bed to head to the OHL final. A quick IceDog note. Many people told me how impressed they were by the IceDog push back late in the season and into the playoffs, considering how young the team was. Much of that talent will move over to the Meridian Centre and should make for a very good on-ice product in the coming years. Expect several IceDog names to be called draft day too as Brendan Perlini, Aaron Haydon, Brent Moran, Blake Siebenaler, and Aleksander Proptapovich were all ranked in the final rankings. This does not include repeat guys like Jordan Maletta, Anthony DiFruscia and Luke Mercer, all of whom rounded out their games this year.
Off season for me after 47 games of broadcasting. The break is much needed. Remember I have a full-time job and a family, so this is freelance work for me. I will be waiting to see how things shake out as hockey season comes to a close and the transition from TSN and CBC to Rogers begins. Rogers has announced hosts, but no panel members, play by play guys or colour commentators. What is also not determined is how much hockey will be Rogers produced and how many crews they will need. They've taken on a monumental task in being the national broadcaster, but its not like this is their first rodeo. Scott Moore and Keith Pelley have been doing this for a while. What they do not have is many TSN guys to look at. Most of the top TSN on-air guys were locked up for the regional hockey that TSN will produce. The names coming down the pipe from Rogers will be interesting to say the least. Jim Hughson, and Craig Simpson are a given. Elliote Friedman, and Nick Kypreos are likely locks for any panel or reporting. After that , it could get very interesting as Rogers still has regional rights to Vancouver, Calgary and Edmonton to consider, as well as a full sleight of CHL hockey too.