Well, so much for the big crackdown or rule changes or whatever you want to call the NHLís futile attempt at better officiating. It seems all the referees need to attend hockey school all over again! Is it just me or should the officials be called for too many men on the ice? They canít seem to get it right, again!

What on earth happened over at head office? The game had opened up as a result of the calls being made. Now all of a sudden the referees have grown quiet. Or is the NHL just trying to save money on pucks and whistles?

We shouldnít really be surprised over this. Iíve been saying Iíll believe it when I see it since the announcement of the crackdown was first made. When the NHL actually went through with it, I said it wouldnít last. I canít say I was the only one, because I know everyone was waiting until the officials decided to put their whistles away and let the boys play.

I guess now itís back to the drawing board for Andy Van Hellemond and company. Clearly to me there is something going on at NHL Headquarters or Mick ďMr. MagooĒ McGeough is working overtime (no pun intended).

Case in point: A missed tripping call turns into a charging call in overtime. The ensuing power play results in the winning goal. Whereís the justice?

Ever notice the referees seem to kick teams when theyíre down? Iíve watched two games now where the score was astronomical, yet the referees continue to call penalties against the teams who are on the short end of the score. Of course, this results in an expanded score by the end of the power play.

On the flip side of this, a team can be up by a single goal and then all of a sudden thereís a questionable power play for the opposing team. Next thing you know the score is tied and weíre either headed for overtime or the team that scored now has momentum on their side. To me itís too much empowerment on the refereesí parts. Donít decide a game, officiate it!

The league called for ďZero ToleranceĒ for most obstruction interference plays and for unsportsmanlike conduct infractions like diving and talking back to the ref, yet players are calling the calls (or non-calls) a joke.

With two referees on the ice they canít even decide if a goal is good without calling upstairs. Earth to the refs: Open your eyes! Iíve seen a referee (no names mentioned) stand behind the net and still review a goal with video replay.

And whatever happened to holding the referees accountable by e-mailing a play they missed or by what was referred to as ďdrastic measures to be takenĒ?

OK, Iím done ranting and raving. I could go on and on but it wonít accomplish anything more than showing I have a hot head, which most of you knew already. We all knew this would happen so we canít say weíre surprised. I do, however, have two simple solutions should the league choose to entertain suggestions:

1. Get rid of the second referee, and donít let me hear any more hogwash about the need for the extra body. They couldnít get it together with one and they canít get it together with two. With 30 teams, all the extra payroll could be spent better elsewhere. For god sakes, there are two linesmen, let them blow the whistle once and awhile.

2. Move the video goal judge into the penalty box so the referee can review the play himself. I think this one is pretty much self-explanatory.

As for me, Iíve picked on our friend Mr. Bettman enough of late, so Iíll leave all of this in his and the leagueís capable hands. Hereís hoping they can get the officiating right in time for the playoffs, but Iíll tell you what, Iím not holding my breath!

Quite frankly, there are more pressing issues to address, something Iíll address next time around. In the meantime, keep those pucks out of the snow and watch out for those cars!

Happy New Year everyone!

More Puckin' Around...