Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Without a net

As much as 40 years without a cup hurts, here are two more reasons to be glad your heart isn't with Cleveland (or Atlanta, San Diego, or Seattle).

Today's National Post has a great piece by Joe O'Connor - 20 questions with recently retired linesmen Ray Scapinello. Sadly, it's firewalled, but here's a taste:

Q. One referee or two?
RS: Two. The game is so fast, and they've opened it up so much, you need two. When they make that pass to the guy up at the far blue line -- without the red line -- no referee, and I don't care how great of a skater he is, is going to be there to make a call. But with two, the other guy is up there, and he gets to view it.

Q. What's the one call you blew that you wish you could have back?
RS: It was my second game in the NHL. It was in Chicago. Buffalo was leading 2-1, and Punch Imlach was coaching. A Sabres defenceman shot the puck down the ice, and he was going off, and just as he got there his change-guy hops over the boards. But Chicago got the puck, so the defenceman stayed on, and the change-guy jumped back on the bench. It was nothing, right? Well, when the whistle blew, I went over and told the referee, Art Scov, that Buffalo had too many men on the ice. It was a brutal call.

Q. How did Punch take it?
RS: He was livid. He refused to put a guy in the box. So Art Scov gives him the old watch routine [looks at his watch], and he still wouldn't do it. So Scov gave him a bench minor for delay of the game. Finally Punch relented and put two guys in the box. Bobby Hull scored two goals on the power play, and Chicago won 3-2, and the headlines in the next day's Chicago Tribune were: Hull, Scapinello beat Sabres 3-2.

Q. How about the one brawl you wish you missed?
RS: Oh, all through the '70s with the Philadelphia Flyers. Every time there was a whistle you'd look over your shoulder and the benches came. It was second nature. And you could only handle one fight at a time, so you and your partner would go to what you considered was the worst fight and break that up, get them in the box, and then look around and decide who was next. It was constant.

In other news, the Leafs rookies won a four team tournament by beating the Habs rookies 3-2. Good things those mondo oversized nets produced such an outrageous fan pleasing high score. (Which leads me to this thought: You know how baseball fans post giant Ks in the stadium everytime their pitcher gets a strikeout? Somebody needs to start a web-site the posts an image of a giant mustache or comb-over for every bizarro Strachan column that goes wrong...

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