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Old 04-21-2019, 02:55 PM   #1
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Default The So-Called "Randomness" of the NHL

I'm seeing/hearing a lot of what I would call complaints about how the NHL is seemingly random and the regular season means nothing in the wake of so many high seeds bowing out in the first round. People are speaking about it as if this is a problem with the game and I'm wondering why. Isn't this the point of a cap and parity?

I would preface this by saying I think the NHL regular season should be shortened to around 60-70 games, while acknowledging that will never happen. I think this would do away with what is known as the "dog" days of the season as a shorter season means each game matters more.

As a fan of a 1st seed team who watched them flame out early, I have no problem with the fact that this is a distinct possibility. I don't believe there are systematic issues at play that resulted in the Flames loss. They sucked. There's no secret about how a team who barely scraped in can beat a team with one of their best seasons that is rooted in the cap or parity or whatever, the Flames players were bad. The same thing can happen in football or baseball or soccer or basketball or whatever. If your good players are bad you will lose. The same goes for Tampa. Did people watch those games? Tampa was bad. They looked like a regular season team playing in January, not unlike the Flames. When your players play bad you will lose. Especially when combined with the opposing teams players playing well.

That said, hockey does have a few elements of randomness that are more prevalent than in other sports. #1 is goalies. A goalie can single-handedly drag a team as far as the Cup. It's happened before and it's nothing new. #2 is referees. The reffing has been getting progressively worse in the NHL over the last few seasons and IMO needs a complete overhaul off all referees (not Linesmen, they do their job just fine). Start fresh with a completely newly trained crew. This is a systematic issue, but one that affects all the teams just as randomly, and so it can't really be said to contribute to any sort of factor that might lead to a bottom team beating a top said more than the other way around. #3 the amount of players in a game. The top players don't play as much as they do in other sports. Most other sports, their top players play close to if not the whole game. This leaves room (and necessity) for "lower level" players to make an impact in a shorter time span with an effort/talent/luck they can't sustain for a full season.

But really my whole thought on this is, wasn't this the goal? To give every team a chance to have a strong team and create competitive balance. You could probably take any of the teams on the outside of the playoffs and they would STILL have a chance to beat the top teams in a series based on the above (and a number of other) factors. But the main one will always be the winning players were better than the losing players for that stretch of time. I don't really see how you can argue this makes the sport worse to watch or be a fan of. Because the top teams aren't playing each other in the finals? The players of those teams are to blame, not the system.

TL;DR. Season could be shorter. Refs suck and need to completely be replaced. But the fact that top teams aren't in the playoffs anymore is not a systematic problem in the NHL.
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Old 04-21-2019, 04:02 PM   #2
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Its parity, this is what the NHL wants. Playoffs races to the final day and coin tosses in the playoffs.

I've always said the four series between the division winners and the wildcards, the division winners should get 5 home games 3-2-2. Not sure that would have helped the Flames anyways.
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Old 04-21-2019, 04:05 PM   #3
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Everyone wants parity but it’s not always that great. It’s entertaining watching someone trying to knock off a great team or player.

Unfortunately the parity and randomness have yet to work in our favor at all.
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Old 04-21-2019, 04:27 PM   #4
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I would be ecstatic with a shorter season. That’s stats are there thatba good portion of the teams that make it will already there by December (or Thanksgiving or something?). 82 games and 7 months to determine who gets to be a part of an already excessively long playoff is too much.

Or, seriously reduce the playoffs to the top four teams in each conference, and make the regular season really mean something.
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Old 04-21-2019, 05:04 PM   #5
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Parity is fine, but having different reffing in the post season is not.
This creates a league where you build one style of team for season success and require a different style for post season success.
That is stupid and isnt related to parity.
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Old 04-21-2019, 05:09 PM   #6
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Shortening the season substantially decreases revenue, I doubt we see it
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Old 04-21-2019, 05:11 PM   #7
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Starting with a fresh new crew of officiating? I would imagine that would make things even worse to start. What they need to try and do is make the rules less subjective
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Old 04-21-2019, 05:18 PM   #8
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Most would prefer the SC to be awarded in May but that's a pipe dream

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Old 04-21-2019, 05:21 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MelBridgeman View Post
Starting with a fresh new crew of officiating? I would imagine that would make things even worse to start. What they need to try and do is make the rules less subjective
There are only, what, 30 NHL refs? They all have engrained biases and many are still part of this "game-management" style that goes on. I'm willing to bet there are 30 other people in the world who can be quickly brought up to speed with hard and fast lines on what penalties are and how to call them without previous habits leaking back in.

Even if not, the current group of refs have proven to be incompetent.
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Old 04-21-2019, 05:33 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Coach View Post
There are only, what, 30 NHL refs? They all have engrained biases and many are still part of this "game-management" style that goes on. I'm willing to bet there are 30 other people in the world who can be quickly brought up to speed with hard and fast lines on what penalties are and how to call them without previous habits leaking back in.

Even if not, the current group of refs have proven to be incompetent.
Becoming an NHL official is a long process - you do actually need to work your way up the ranks and most don't get there until they are in their 30s. The best officials are already in the NHL. A fresh crew will make things hundred times worse before it gets better.
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Old 04-21-2019, 05:50 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Coach View Post
There are only, what, 30 NHL refs? They all have engrained biases and many are still part of this "game-management" style that goes on. I'm willing to bet there are 30 other people in the world who can be quickly brought up to speed with hard and fast lines on what penalties are and how to call them without previous habits leaking back in.

Even if not, the current group of refs have proven to be incompetent.
People have been complaining about officiating since time began. Or at least since competitive sports began. Every single sport has those who say the officiating is he worst among all the other sports. So someone is dead wrong.

Its no worse now than it ever has been. They see, or don't see, things at game speed. Everyone at home is watching in a confined window with multiple angles and slow motion.

Mistakes are going to happen every single night because those making the decisions are humans and humans make mistakes...full stop.

The NHL has the best hockey officials in the world for the most part and an established, and lengthy, training program before they get to the show. Yes there will be missed calls, always has been and always will be. Yes some guys have really bad nights, always have and always will. They are just people like you or me and people are not perfect. Players fall under that same umbrella.

I know this is not a popular observation but its just the truth of the matter.

Anyway,

Here is a website of who's who.

https://www.nhlofficials.com/nhl-officials/current
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Old 04-21-2019, 06:09 PM   #12
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And here is another site with some stats - take for what you think it's worth

https://scoutingtherefs.com/

If you look at games reffed there is a pretty nice trajectory

https://scoutingtherefs.com/nhl-officials/
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Last edited by MelBridgeman; 04-21-2019 at 06:12 PM.
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Old 04-21-2019, 07:17 PM   #13
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I don’t think that the refs are biased one way or the other. I also recognize that there are obviously decisions that are judgment calls, and those that are missed for whatever reason. What I cannot understand is the emphasis on game management and the sheer outright inconsistency of calls and the seeming inability to even call things the same within a game! How many times could too many men on the ice get called, and yet it becomes part of game management and one team gets singled out. I honestly don’t care what the rules of the week are, but call them consistently.

I’ll allow myself one comment on the flames v avs; the series was not called the same way as any other series that I have watched this year.

While I’m on it, the nhl office in Toronto needs a rule book and a consistent approach. It’s like the Colin Campbell wheel of justice is on loan to the video review team. The leafs goal the other night...how that was a goal and others like it weren’t...
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Old 04-21-2019, 07:22 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by transplant99 View Post
People have been complaining about officiating since time began. Or at least since competitive sports began. Every single sport has those who say the officiating is he worst among all the other sports. So someone is dead wrong.

Its no worse now than it ever has been. They see, or don't see, things at game speed. Everyone at home is watching in a confined window with multiple angles and slow motion.

Mistakes are going to happen every single night because those making the decisions are humans and humans make mistakes...full stop.

The NHL has the best hockey officials in the world for the most part and an established, and lengthy, training program before they get to the show. Yes there will be missed calls, always has been and always will be. Yes some guys have really bad nights, always have and always will. They are just people like you or me and people are not perfect. Players fall under that same umbrella.

I know this is not a popular observation but its just the truth of the matter.

Anyway,

Here is a website of who's who.

https://www.nhlofficials.com/nhl-officials/current
This is why I think there is a directed philosophy not to call too many penalties and to consider the state of the game when calling penalties. These refs are professionals who I believe in general are pretty good at their jobs. Therefore the consistent different standards depending on game state are intentional
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Old 04-21-2019, 07:36 PM   #15
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I never really understood why the season starts so late in the year. Why not have camps starting at the end of august, so we are playing reglar season games at the end of September, and season ends in may.
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Old 04-21-2019, 07:40 PM   #16
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If a penalty is a penalty, call a penalty.

Missed calls from the refs not seeing something is fine. Ignoring obvious penalties for who knows what reason is not.
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Old 04-22-2019, 04:06 AM   #17
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You're ignoring some big sources of "randomness" in hockey and that's that it's a relatively low-scoring game (compared to, say, tennis or basketball), and a lot of goals come of flukey events. Not enough sample size to eliminate the statistical noise and have the better team come out on top.
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Old 04-22-2019, 10:27 AM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by transplant99 View Post
People have been complaining about officiating since time began. Or at least since competitive sports began. Every single sport has those who say the officiating is he worst among all the other sports. So someone is dead wrong.

Its no worse now than it ever has been. They see, or don't see, things at game speed. Everyone at home is watching in a confined window with multiple angles and slow motion.

Mistakes are going to happen every single night because those making the decisions are humans and humans make mistakes...full stop.

The NHL has the best hockey officials in the world for the most part and an established, and lengthy, training program before they get to the show. Yes there will be missed calls, always has been and always will be. Yes some guys have really bad nights, always have and always will. They are just people like you or me and people are not perfect. Players fall under that same umbrella.

I know this is not a popular observation but its just the truth of the matter.

Anyway,

Here is a website of who's who.

https://www.nhlofficials.com/nhl-officials/current
To me, this is the biggest problem. Refs are humans and humans make mistakes... But there is no room for mistakes from refs. Every mistake they make unfairly impacts the game. Every time they let emotion get involved in their decision making, they are violating the rules of the game.

Reffing will only ever be good, in my view, when it's done without any humans whatsoever. Which, I know, is impossible at this point in time.

Is my viewpoint extreme? Sure. But as long as there's a human element, there's room for bias or emotion to taint a call. Every time that happens, it damages the game, to me.

Until that becomes possible, at least put another ref up in the pressbox, connected by headset to the guys on the ice. This will allow another viewpoint to either catch missed calls or contribute to decisions made on the ice (when calls are discussed between officials).
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Old 04-22-2019, 10:29 AM   #19
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I don't know if they already do this but why not have one referee sitting above ice-level? They can confirm/dis-confirm any calls made on the ice and make any blatant calls that were missed.
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Old 04-22-2019, 10:42 AM   #20
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Fundamentally, the playoffs are not a true test of who the best team is. European football has it right - the team that can sustain over the course of a long season and finishes 1st is the best team, not the team that wins the FA cup. Over the short sample size, there is too much influence played by chance - injuries, goalie gets hot or goes cold, lucky breaks as far as match-ups, refereeing, etc. Carolina was not the best team in 2006 - they happened to get a lot of lucky breaks. Tampa was far and away the best team this season. It's just that the North American sports fans needs the "knockout" tournament. However, the NHL compounds the problem by letting way too many teams in, so the regular season becomes relatively meaningless, and we are just suckers who pay money to watch meaningless games. Baseball has it right (and had it "righter" before the WC) - the season is truly meaningful in terms of weeding teams out, and then the playoffs truly pit best against best. In the NHL you can wind up with a couple of crap/mediocre teams playing for the championship (like in 2006 or this year).
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