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The Expert on Putrescence

June 1, 2017, 3:29 PM ET [30 Comments]
Paul Stewart
Blogger •Former NHL Referee • RSSArchiveCONTACT
Some nights when I watch the NHL broadcasts, I actually get up during intermission to refresh my popcorn and make myself a Cape Codder with Stoli. First there was Stoli and then came all the other vodkas. I learned that when I worked in Russia.

With some of the things I know I am going to hear at intermission from the charming and oh-so astute studio "analyst", I know I will need a strong drink.

When I watch games now, I do so as analytically clean and clear as I can, absorbing the action with all the parties concerned, the players, coaches, officials, fans and every once in a while, the broadcasters. I know that some of the opinions are so cryptic and the usual hash, having that Cape Codder feels like a necessity.

Even though I find Mike Milbury to be at times correct in his assessments and just as often way off base, I find that his style of delivery makes me think back to his days as the GM of The Islanders, kicking my door and making his bombastic comments meant to damage me, influence my next call or perhaps shift the responsibility for his team onto me.

I think back to a game vs Montreal when I called two penalty shots in the game against his Islanders team. I think that Mike was so in a hurry to get down to me that he actually jumped from the press box or wherever he sat watching his teams.

Here's Mike now, between periods, kicking the door on my room. When I opened the door, yelling," You always have to be the SHOW."

My terse response was first to the linesmen, "Don't worry about this guy...I'll take care of him."

"Mike," I said, "Since we played at every level against each other and you never seemed to get within an arms length of me as you were always busy picking up the gloves of the guys on your team that were actually fighting me, what can I do for you now?"

I seem to recall that there were a few insults tossed my way from this GM, with me responding, "Mike, be careful, this isn't Pittsburgh. I'm not Dennis Morel and there's no priest here now....if you want to continue to try to insult me, come on in, I'll ask the Lineys to wait outside and we can figure out how we remedy your problems."

Once again, like Dan Aykroyd on Saturday Night Live responding to Jane Curtin after they went through their Point-Counterpoint...."Jane, you ignorant slut."

Mike, your ignorance is showing. Take my advice, at your age, you should be careful with grandstanding for the fans....jumping on and off the bandstand can get you hurt.

The easiest targets in the Playoffs are the officials. While I don't necessarily disagree with some of the thoughts that some calls last night were ones the referees might like to have back, he went overboard in calling the officials putrid.

Putrid?" Listen Mike, my collegues and i watched you coach. We saw some of your teams in NY. I wouldn't insult your guys and describe them as "putrid."

Rather, I would try to find a way to explain that with some of the picks and trades you had with that big hockey operations carte blanche that Mr. Wang gave you, you were not able to solve the dilemma of putting together a winning team in the NHL.

As a college graduate, I assume you know some American history. Harry Truman said, "The buck stops here." Those misspent bucks and ill-considered trades were at your desk and no one else's. How do you lose a Chara and a Jones in, teo pretty good D men that didn't want to play for you, or so I was told. I won't even into your decisions related to goaltenders. Now that was some putrid management.

In broadcasting, anyone can stand up there and jump on the refs. Instead, why wouldn't you try to explain what the standard was and what was consistent and what was inconsistent?

I was replaced before I started at ESPN at the insistence of Colin Campbell way back in 2003. You can ask Adam Acone, former NHL VP of Broadcasting. Thre have been a whole host of "Experts" who get into the Officiating side of the game and play up to 50% of every audience by telling people that their team was being jobbed.

No one is ever offering a analytical dissection of the call or even seeking some logical reason why a call was or was not made.

Sam Flood, the NBC Hockey boss, one night, when I objected to The Pierre explaining a rule incorrectly, sent my text message to Pierre McGuire so as to create some type of tiff. I did see The Pierre after that time and l, no, I did not offer an apology. I offered my assistance to him in matters pertaining to officiating and rules, because butchering the broadcast with misinformation about a rule does much more harm than good.

As with McGuire, Mike's opinion on the reffing would be much more impactful if he offered some of his own experience and wisdom without the over the top comments meant to insult and not inform.

The buck stopped here when I reffed. If I was offering my thoughts on the officiating, I might have said that a hooking infraction caused a loss of the puck, and that the officials have that drummed into their heads. Stick to stick to hands equals loss of puck and you hsd better call a penalty. Note: this is the directive that comes down from Hockey Ops in the NHL to these refs and linesmen.

The cross check was called because it was seen by the ref, who was too deep and too far away to convince me that he had a good view. I would say that he was looking through the goalie at about 65 feet away, which is too far for my liking......"Positioning sells calls." Get closer, get a good look and then remember, every call is pivotal, so dole them out like they are your hard earned money. Be frugal or give the penalty but do it by taking the temperature of the game, feeling what you can allow or need to call without embarrassing yourself or your brother officials.

That's how I would talk to the refs if I was coaching them and how I would talk to the audience if I was wearing that terrible tie you seem to always wear.

The Officials are not eager to be bad. They get the importance....They got to The Finals because they have acceptability and because they have demonstrated proficiency all year long.

Mik, the only thing that is PUTRID is your inability to analyze carefully, explain clearly and leave people a little smarter than when they tuned in. But what do I know? In order to work for Flood, Campbell or any of the other NHL/NBC Hockey geniuses who steer the flow of content, you have to pucker up and apply plenty of Chapstick.

So I leave you now, June 1, 2017 with the sign off of one of the greatest television reporters who ever grace our TV sets: "And that's the way it is...."
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