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Thread: Whistlemania! -- Are we fixing something that isn't broken?

  1. #1
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    Whistlemania! -- Are we fixing something that isn't broken?

    Much has been written and discussed on this and other forums about the enforcement crackdown (aka Standard of Play) that has seemed, at times, to make 5-on-5 hockey something of a rarity. But everything that’s been said so far is long on opinion and short on facts, so I thought it might be useful to try and convert the discussion into something quantifiable. To this end, I went back and did quick calculations of the average number of penalties (not penalty minutes) called each week and broke it down by conference. Here’s what I came up with:

    Conference Comparisons: Average Number of Penalties Called per Game
    (Number of games comprising each average indicated in parentheses)

    Week | Atlantic | ECAC | HEA | B1G | NCHC | WCHA
    Week 1 | 16.1 (8) | 23.5 (4) | 24.0 (12) | 13.4 (4) | 15.2 (7) | 17.3 (13)
    Week 2 | 17.4 (5) | 19.0 (5) | *17.3 (16) | 10.3 (4) | 12.3 (8) | 15.0 (10)
    Week 3 | 19.1 (16) | 18.3 (13) | 17.7 (17) | 13.1 (5) | 11.9 (9) | 13.8 (16)
    Week 4 | 11.7 (4) | 13.0 (2) | 14.5 (2) | 12.0 (1) | 11.4 (7) | 12.0 (8)
    Week 5 | 10.37 (6) | 17.1 (6) | 18.8 (16) | 10.7 (6) | 12.7 (8) | 12.1 (7)
    Avg: | 14.9 (39) | 18.2 (30) | 18.5 (63) | 11.9 (20) | 12.7 (39) | 14.0 (54)
    *Does not include an additional 20 penalties assessed at the end of the 10/7
    Notre Dame-Arizona State Game

    Clearly, there is a marked disparity in the way the Standard of Play is being implemented in two of the eastern conferences compared with the three western conferences. I’m not smart enough to know the reason(s) why.

    If what is happening is an attempt to generate more offense, I’d rather see some legislation to reduce the ridiculous size of some of the goalie equipment before emphasizing offense at the expense of legitimate defense. I’ll be the last person on this board to defend “clutch-and-grab” tactics that unfairly penalize highly skilled players. But I really haven’t seen much of this over the last few years and, where it did happen, it tended to be penalized. So I’m left to wonder if we’re going too far with this initiative and maybe fixing something that really isn’t so broken.

    I have no problem with the game officials, who have no choice but to call games the way the various conferences want them called. But I do think their bosses may need to take a step back and make appropriate mid-course corrections, at least in terms of consistency between conferences.

    PS: Sorry I couldn't get the columns to line up better.
    Last edited by Split-N; 10-24-2016 at 11:57 AM.
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    Re: Whistlemania! -- Are we fixing something that isn't broken?

    I mean, I'm all for player safety. But did coaches get enough guidance from the rules people to teach their kids what to do or not to do?

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    Re: Whistlemania! -- Are we fixing something that isn't broken?

    Quote Originally Posted by Yuppie Scum View Post
    I mean, I'm all for player safety. But did coaches get enough guidance from the rules people to teach their kids what to do or not to do?
    Seems like most of the calls being made aren't related to player safety at all. It's more about "slowing the game down," though anyone with a brain could tell you that teams playing 45 minutes of a 60-minute game not at full strength will do more to damage the game than clutch-and-grab defense ever could.

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    Re: Whistlemania! -- Are we fixing something that isn't broken?

    Quote Originally Posted by kdiff77 View Post
    Seems like most of the calls being made aren't related to player safety at all. It's more about "slowing the game down," though anyone with a brain could tell you that teams playing 45 minutes of a 60-minute game not at full strength will do more to damage the game than clutch-and-grab defense ever could.
    The way most seasons start, you see a lot of calls made by officials to keep the clutch-and-grab play from happening too much. Then players start to shape up, and the need for those calls diminish over the course of the season and the flow of the games really start to set in for the teams.
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    Re: Whistlemania! -- Are we fixing something that isn't broken?

    Code:
    	gp	pen	pen/gp	pim	pim/gp
    2016-17	280	2061	7.36	4666	16.66
    2015-16	274	1366	4.99	3111	11.35
    Penalties are up almost 50% over this time last season.

    The 2015-16 Arizona State squad was the most heavily penalized team, averaging 6.86 per game through seven games. This year that average would put them at #35 out of 54 teams. Only two teams had surpassed 100 penalty minutes by this time a year ago. This season Arizona State has already exceeded 200 with another 14 teams over 100.

    50 of 54 teams have seen their penalties per game increase since last season, with nine teams having more than doubled. Penn State has gone up a whopping 143%.

  6. #6
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    Re: Whistlemania! -- Are we fixing something that isn't broken?

    Isn't this just the usual adjustment period involved whenever they increase enforcement of particular infractions? I see a downward trend in the numbers over the first few weeks.


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    Re: Whistlemania! -- Are we fixing something that isn't broken?

    Quote Originally Posted by LtPowers View Post
    Isn't this just the usual adjustment period involved whenever they increase enforcement of particular infractions? I see a downward trend in the numbers over the first few weeks.


    Powers &8^]
    That's the million dollar question. Are penalties that referees are calling now still going to be penalties in January?

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    Re: Whistlemania! -- Are we fixing something that isn't broken?

    Last edited by turk181; 10-24-2016 at 10:23 PM.

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    Re: Whistlemania! -- Are we fixing something that isn't broken?

    I can handle player safety being the reason for more whistles or stick infractions. I witnessed Bunyon in Hockey East call a PC player for interference when the SLU player was carrying the puck and was checked at center ice.

    SLU had a ton of calls in that same game which the player had no clue what he was called for which saw them get a couple of misconducts.
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    Re: Whistlemania! -- Are we fixing something that isn't broken?

    Quote Originally Posted by Split-N View Post
    Much has been written and discussed on this and other forums about the enforcement crackdown (aka Standard of Play) that has seemed, at times, to make 5-on-5 hockey something of a rarity. But everything thatís been said so far is long on opinion and short on facts, so I thought it might be useful to try and convert the discussion into something quantifiable. To this end, I went back and did quick calculations of the average number of penalties (not penalty minutes) called each week and broke it down by conference. Hereís what I came up with:

    Conference Comparisons: Average Number of Penalties Called per Game
    (Number of games comprising each average indicated in parentheses)

    Week | Atlantic | ECAC | HEA | B1G | NCHC | WCHA
    Week 1 | 16.1 (8) | 23.5 (4) | 24.0 (12) | 13.4 (4) | 15.2 (7) | 17.3 (13)
    Week 2 | 17.4 (5) | 19.0 (5) | *17.3 (16) | 10.3 (4) | 12.3 (8) | 15.0 (10)
    Week 3 | 19.1 (16) | 18.3 (13) | 17.7 (17) | 13.1 (5) | 11.9 (9) | 13.8 (16)
    Week 4 | 11.7 (4) | 13.0 (2) | 14.5 (2) | 12.0 (1) | 11.4 (7) | 12.0 (8)
    Week 5 | 10.37 (6) | 17.1 (6) | 18.8 (16) | 10.7 (6) | 12.7 (8) | 12.1 (7)
    Avg: | 14.9 (39) | 18.2 (30) | 18.5 (63) | 11.9 (20) | 12.7 (39) | 14.0 (54)
    *Does not include an additional 20 penalties assessed at the end of the 10/7
    Notre Dame-Arizona State Game

    Clearly, there is a marked disparity in the way the Standard of Play is being implemented in two of the eastern conferences compared with the three western conferences. Iím not smart enough to know the reason(s) why.

    If what is happening is an attempt to generate more offense, Iíd rather see some legislation to reduce the ridiculous size of some of the goalie equipment before emphasizing offense at the expense of legitimate defense. Iíll be the last person on this board to defend ďclutch-and-grabĒ tactics that unfairly penalize highly skilled players. But I really havenít seen much of this over the last few years and, where it did happen, it tended to be penalized. So Iím left to wonder if weíre going too far with this initiative and maybe fixing something that really isnít so broken.

    I have no problem with the game officials, who have no choice but to call games the way the various conferences want them called. But I do think their bosses may need to take a step back and make appropriate mid-course corrections, at least in terms of consistency between conferences.

    PS: Sorry I couldn't get the columns to line up better.
    Western bias, obviously.
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  11. #11
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    Re: Whistlemania! -- Are we fixing something that isn't broken?

    Or you could just not commit so many penalties. The calls I've seen are completely legitimate and by the book. They might be called something I wouldn't expect, but the actions are still minor penalties, so it doesn't really matter the reason. There's nothing wrong with a fair game so it doesn't get out of hand.
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    Re: Whistlemania! -- Are we fixing something that isn't broken?

    For starters, you have to acknowledge the clear bias of this thread. I mean there's lip service paid to trying to quantify and to see what the numbers tell us but the thread title alone shows us how you really feel. You could have just as easily titled this "About time - but are they even doing enough now?" But you didn't.

    So to take it right down to the basics, there's a rulebook. That rulebook is full of infractions. If the refs called a penalty every time the letter of the law of those infractions was violated, the box would never be empty. Period.

    So right there that turns this discussion from are the refs making stuff up to a discussion of the refs are always going to be lenient, are they just being a little less lenient this year.

    Some examples:

    The chip and chase interference violation. It's interference, this whole 2 strides stuff is completely made up and a weakening of the actual rule yet people are complaining about it like it's an extension of the rule.

    "Boarding - A player shall not body check, cross-check, elbow, charge or trip an opponent from the front or side in such a manner that causes the opponent to be thrown violently into the boards." Happens 10 times a game, at least, never called.

    "Charging - A player shall not skate more than two strides and jump into or charge an opponent. Charging is the action of a player, who as a result of distance traveled, checks an opponent violently in any manner from the front or side." Happens 20 times a game, at least, never called.

    "A legal body check is one in which a player checks an opponent who is in possession of the puck, by using the hip or body from the front or diagonally from the front or straight from the side." Nowhere does it say you can bring your hands up to the face or chest of the opponent. Doing that is Roughing, Interference, or Contact to the Head. Happens an almost uncountable number of times per game and is literally never called. The skill of shoulder and hip checks has been all but lost from the game because refs let players get away with the much easier and less skilled hands to the chest/head.

    I think you get the idea, I'm all for the refs actually doing their jobs. THAT'S called letting them play, not the other way around.

    I guess it all boils down to who the "them" is in "let them play". Do you want to let the unskilled grinders "play" or do you want to let the skilled players play? Not a hard question in my mind.
    Last edited by E.J. Smith; 10-25-2016 at 08:55 AM.

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    Re: Whistlemania! -- Are we fixing something that isn't broken?

    On the other hand, I've personally seen stick lifts (perfectly legal) penalized as interference; players in possession and control of the puck penalized for interference (impossible); momentarily pinning a puck carrier against the boards penalized as interference; body checks delivered with the shoulder into the sternum (stick below the waistline) penalized as roughing. There are other examples.

    What remains striking is the penalty totals in the east compared with penalty totals in the west. If you take a look at the numbers, Hockey East games are averaging about seven more penalties than are called in B1G games. In last weekend's games alone, Sacred Heart at Boston University recorded 25 penalties while Quinnipiac at BU recorded 26. Clarkson at Providence racked up 22 and the next night, St. Lawrence vs PC had 28! None of these games were "Gong Shows" and all four have reputations as skill teams.

    So I have to wonder what was in the memo the eastern conferences got that wasn't in the memo the western conference got?
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    Re: Whistlemania! -- Are we fixing something that isn't broken?

    What I've been seeing is that penalties are being called closer than in the past couple of years. They are still penalties, and as long as they are equally applied, I'm fine with it.

    I hate all of the obstruction, and lazy penalties that so many take- and I know that over the next month, my team will have a HUGE number called against them since they don't do well in our D zone. Instead of patching problems by hooking and holding, the penalties will FORCE them to fix it by skating and proper coverage. That's the kind of hockey I would much rather watch, anyway.

    Let them play, fairly. Not let them play- and bend the rules.

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    Re: Whistlemania! -- Are we fixing something that isn't broken?

    The problem to me is that the teams/players, especially in some games, do not know what is a foul any longer. I think it's real important that the officials are very clear as to what will be called and refrain from calling something because it might have been something.
    I'm sure the players can adjust but it has to be understood before they can.
    I've seen quite a number of players going to the box saying, what did I do?
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    Re: Whistlemania! -- Are we fixing something that isn't broken?

    Quote Originally Posted by Split-N View Post
    On the other hand, I've personally seen stick lifts (perfectly legal) penalized as interference; players in possession and control of the puck penalized for interference (impossible); momentarily pinning a puck carrier against the boards penalized as interference; body checks delivered with the shoulder into the sternum (stick below the waistline) penalized as roughing. There are other examples.
    I'm not questioning what you saw. And the flip side of my argument is that I generally despise refs due to their egos and incompetence, so believe me, it's hard for me to support them as I did above. I guess I split between agreeing with the strategic direction of actually enforcing the rules but I don't doubt the execution of that direction is a scchittshow due to the actual guys making the calls.

    On lifting the stick, I have seen a relatively new thing where, for instance, a guy making a center lane drive pins the d-mans stick to his shins as he goes by, giving the puck carrier more space. I think that's a bit of a gray area but can see it being called interference.


    Completely different topic that I can't believe I left out of my first post as it's my number one pet peeve right now - just because someone calls it "working the hips" doesn't mean it's still not cross checking. That's become the new clutch and grab, drives me nuts.
    Last edited by E.J. Smith; 10-25-2016 at 09:38 AM.

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    Re: Whistlemania! -- Are we fixing something that isn't broken?

    There now looks to be a third team out on the ice.

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    Re: Whistlemania! -- Are we fixing something that isn't broken?

    Quote Originally Posted by Split-N View Post

    What remains striking is the penalty totals in the east compared with penalty totals in the west. If you take a look at the numbers, Hockey East games are averaging about seven more penalties than are called in B1G games.

    So I have to wonder what was in the memo the eastern conferences got that wasn't in the memo the western conference got?
    I don't see much eastern hockey, so I'll refrain from comment on that part of it, but certainly from what I've seen in the west in the last couple of years, there has been less of an issue with clutch and grab in the Big and NCHC than in the WCHA. In fact, the problems in the Big have been too much skating - It's been pond hockey at times over the last couple of years. So maybe there have been fewer penalties in those conferences because there really wasn't a lot more that needed called.

    Now the WCHA, on the other hand...

  19. #19
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    Re: Whistlemania! -- Are we fixing something that isn't broken?

    Hockey wasn't meant to be played at 5-on-4, or 4-on-4, or (heaven forbid) 5-on-3. This phenomenon of 20+ penalties in numerous games is an over-correction by the officials that must be scaled back when conference play begins in earnest.

    I'm especially nervous as a Brown fan - last year, we were the least penalized team in the country, but we had a bottom-five penalty kill. If they start putting us on penalty kills more often for marginal infractions, we'll get smoked every game (instead of only losing by one or two ).

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    Re: Whistlemania! -- Are we fixing something that isn't broken?

    Gonna be in for a rude awakening when you get to the NHL and barely any penalties are called.
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