Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Another Incident with WCHA Officials

The WCHA is investigating an altercation that took place on Sunday night after the game between Minnesota and Minnesota State. Minnesota State assistant coach Eric Means got into an argument with official Jon Campion moments after the game on Sunday. University of Minnesota police seperated the two in a manner that apparently upset Minnesota State coach Troy Jutting, who had an animated argument with the police about their handling of the incident.

Shane Frederick of the Mankato Free Press has the few details that are known.

Means was apparently upset that Mankato only received a meager 2 powerplays on Sunday night to Minnesota's 7 powerplays. Or that Mankato only received 2 powerplays on Friday night to Minnesota's 6. Or that Minnesota apparently played 80 consecutive minutes of hockey without committing a single infraction between Friday and Sunday.

There is, of course, the argument that Minnesota is the faster, more skilled team and probably should have earned more powerplays. But the numbers don't seem to reflect that. The Mavericks outshout the Gophers 28-24 on Sunday, and if you take out the powerplay shots on goal, the Mavericks hold a 25-15 advantage. Friday night wasn't as stark, but the Mavericks did outshoot Minnesota 34-32, and 30-26 not counting powerplay shots. It seems to be a case of the officials calling the game based on reputation rather than reality.

That said, Means probably should be disciplined for his reaction. I've got no problem with him sticking up for his team, but there are still consequences for doing something like that. A one game suspension seems fair, and since MSU's next game is on the road, he probably wouldn't have been on the bench anyway.

Jon Campion should also be disciplined, but I'm not holding my breath. We're supposed to believe that the league's officials are completely impartial. Coaches aren't even allowed to mention officiating without suffering some sort of reprimand because to do so would imply that officials play some factor in the outcome of the game. It's the Great Lie that we'd all like to believe, but see proven false every weekend. And now we're supposed to believe that Jon Campion was completely impartial this past weekend when less than 10 minutes after the game, he was engaged in a heated argument with one of the coaches? It's one thing for Means to yell at him, but for Campion to respond to it, which it sounds like he did, that's completely unprofessional and unacceptable.

Goaltending guru Des Christopher made an interesting point on the radio a few weeks ago. He said he was at a tournament at Shattuck-St. Mary's and was talking hockey with a bunch of people from around the hockey world. They were comparing different leagues throughout hockey, and they decided that after the NHL and AHL, the WCHA was probably the third best league in North America, if not the world. Which leads to my question: is the WCHA the third best officiated league in the world? Is it even the third best officiated league in the NCAA? It's probably a question that the league needs to ask it itself and seriously examine.

Hopefully everyone can move on from this incident and put it behind them. It's most important for whichever official gets assigned to this weekend's series featuring Minnesota State to put this incident out of his head and not let it affect the way that he calls the game. Ask anyone at the WCHA league office and they will tell you that that is what their official will do. But if I were St. Cloud State, I'd be practicing my powerplay this week.

27 comments:

Anonymous said...

Your team is the most penalized in the WCHA. The guy who checked Bariball from behind and that pussy, Kisio(who ran Briggs in the last game), who jumped on Schack in this game and was the second Maverick player in this fight, should both have been tossed. They gooned it up again last weekend and got penalized for it. Then your coaches accosted the referee and a police officer. Instead of demanding accountability for this awful behavior you continue to whine. At least you're consistent.

Anonymous said...

why is it unprofessional for an official to respond after a game to what appears to be verbal abuse by a coach? I would say the coach was out of line. I was not there, but what good has ever come from verbally attacking an official before, during or after a game. If the official was out of line in performing his duties, there are ways to address the situation. Confronting him after the game is not the way to handle the situation. I say good for the official for having the balls to stick up for himself.

Donald said...

When the game is over the game is over. If Means or Jutting (who Chris left out of the story) wanted to express themselves to the referee then they should have done it on the ice. Means was foolish to do what he did. Jutting was doubly foolish for getting in on it. If Means sits then Jutting should as well.

The WCHA "official nightmare" could be improved by assigning officials to games at the beginning of the season. Waiting to see who's pissed off and who isn't and then assigning referee's based on those weekly political considerations is just stupid. Take the subjectivity out of the assignments and maybe "REF X" won't be bummed he got assigned "GAME A" because "REF Z" pissed off "TEAM C" last week.

And yeah ... Campion is an ass for arguing back instead of going back into his dressing room. What does he think he is a freaking baseball umpire putting on a show for the bored fans?

Anonymous said...

Mankato state is full of goons - always has been and always will be as long as Jutting is behind the bench. They have led the WCHA in penalties the last FIVE seasons. There is a reason the only time teams fight is when they are playing the Mavericks. NO CLASS.

Anonymous said...

Given the Mavericks propensity for taking penalties, maybe these guys need to look in the mirror before they go whining to the referee. Look at their recent history in the WCHA.

2006 - 2007 = Most penalized
2005 - 2006 = 2nd most penalized
2004 - 2005 = Most penalized
2003 - 2004 = Most penalized
2002 - 2003 = Most penalized

Anybody see a pattern here? Is it the refs picking on the poor Mavericks or is it the fault of the team and its lack of discipline? I think we have all seen the chippy play from MSU-M so the answer is pretty easy. Of course, it is easier to blame somebody else rather than look at your own self.

As for Campion, he has no reason to start a problem with the coaches. Means went down the hall to go yell at him. This wasn't an instance where the ref was looking for a verbal altercation. He was simply going to his locker room when he was verbally accosted. Blaming the ref in this case is a joke. Especially when Means was clearly emotionally out of control and the police had to step in.

Donald said...

There is a tendency (though it isn't huge) on the part of WCHA referee's to take both positive and negative reputation into account. In a perfect world that wouldn't happen. In our world it "shouldn't" happen. It used to be worse before the "even it up" policy came into being.

The whole "hometown linesman" thing needs to go too.

Chuck Wepner University strikes again!

Rick said...

A well-reasoned and reasonably fair set of questions responded to with ad-hominem abuse. It's like my first trip to Joe Louis. They're still not spelling my school's name right at the league office; it surprises me not that Mankato gets the same treatment. Heaven forfend that the big name, big money schools should lose to the little guys every once in a while.

Anonymous said...

Minnesota State averages around one power play less than their opponents per game.

The differential over the weekend was 13-4 in favor of, well, you know.

It doesn't add up. And while I didn't see Friday's game, I have a hard time justifying a 7-2 difference in that Sunday game, considering how the game was played. It just doesn't make sense.

Anonymous said...

After MNSU got away with the checking from behind without so much as 2 minutes, I don't think the whining is warranted. The Gophers may have gotten away with a couple on both nights, but even with the difference... the Mavericks also got away with their share. Every game I watch them play, they're running at people and instigating fights. Blake Wheeler gets run into the goalie in the last series by a Maverick player and then for hitting the goalie, they start a fight. Stupid.

RR said...

Lack of discipline by the Mavericks is the biggest reason for the disparity in penalties. The had a too many men on the ice called on Sunday night. I guess Campion and the linesmen really have to work hard to give the Gophers the edge. Mavs also deserved a CFB call and a third man in call on Kisio that were not called.

Do you really want the refs to micro-manage every game? Last season in an early season game against the Mavs it was like watching a no-check girls hockey game. So many penalties called that the game was ruined as a result. The penalty count didn't really reflect what was going on but instead was a case of referees inserting themselves much too much into the game.

Be careful what you wish for. What kind of game do college hockey fans want to watch? A great North American influenced game or a bastardized European version?

I know what I want and it has nothing to do with euro-wienies. Man up you guys. Please point me to the section in the rule book that says that there MUST be equal numbers of penalties called on each team.

Anonymous said...

rr--

In the WCHA, the officials always even up the penalties. That's why there aren't many teams with significant differences in the number of power plays for or against. Even the mighty Gophers only average one extra power play per game, even though I would have to think that they deserve more than that in the average game because of their high skill level.

A quick scan of the league stats shows that no team is getting more than one extra power play on average per game, and no team is getting more than one fewer power play per game, either. Most of the teams in the league are pretty close to even in the number of power plays for and against so far this year.

With that in mind, anytime you have a series with a differential like 13-4 in the power plays, and there aren't any major skirmishes or anything like that, you're going to raise suspicions. In this case, the league has to accept the criticism because they've brought it on themselves.

RR said...

Anon 9:48--You must not have seen either game. The outcomes of those games were not a result of what was or what wasn't called.

Your statement that WCHA refs "always" call penalties even up has a kernal of truth to it. I've seen it myself on numerous occasions. However the series in question can certainly be an anomaly to your quick scan of league stats.

I'm not saying the Gophers are choirboys. They play the game. To suggest that there is some universally held rule in hockey that penalties always be even is nonsense.

Penalties called over the weekend were a fairly good reflection of the way the games were played. The Mavs had plenty of chances to win on Sunday. They were unable to finish on numerous occasions. Off-sides on odd man rushes killed them. They had their destiny in their own hands and they failed.

Complaining about a missed call here or there really diverts attention from what was a hard fought battle by both teams. Campion could have and probably should have called more penalties on the Mavs. CFB and Third man in stand out in my mind.

Every game is a unique contest and to try and pre-ordain that every team be penalized equally in order to promote "Fairness" well you might as well go all the way and advocate for college hockey's version of the "Fairness Doctrine" or institute some sort of "Affirmitive Action" so that the schools that always feel picked on can get back at schools that are successful.

The Gophers had many reasons to stay out of the penalty box this past weekend. They accomplished that objective. It isn't as though by taking 8 penalties to Mankatos 17 should be that big of a deal. It equates to 1.5 more power plays per period for the entire weekend. Big deal. Sure doesn't warrant all of the crying about it by the way.

Kevin said...

rr- Having four extra power plays in a one goal game isn't a big deal? I'm not saying they weren't deserved, but I think the point of a penalty is that the receiving team gets penalized, ie something detrimental happens to them. And when one team gets penalized three times as much as the other, it's going to have an effect.

Anonymous said...

I for one am glad that someone finally has the guts to put into print what we ALL believe happens, in all leagues. Certain teams get the breaks, others don't. Admit it. A 13-4 man-up advantage is a big deal, even if they never score on the PP. They at least get 9 more opportunities to wear the other team out.

Anonymous said...

It's easy to find fault if you ignore the facts of the game or were never there. These were good calls against Minnesota State. The gophers got away with maybe one but on the other hand there were some calls such as Gordon's holding of the stick which many refs would have missed but Campion didnt let slide by. The point is, if you're looking for fault you will find it.

Also, in response to whoever made the comment about the average amount wcha teams are penalized being equal you need to understand this is an average. This is always going to include high and low numbers.

Anonymous said...

I'm happy to see more of the conspiracy nuts arrive. It's not a discussion of anything Gopher withhout the tinfoil-hat brigade. I admit there may have been missed calls, but that cuts both ways. If the Gophers had more penalties so would the Mavs. As several people have pointed out a CFB on Bariball and Kisio, the king of the goons, jumping into other peoples fights were just the beginning.

RR said...

One other issue hasn't been addressed in this discussion. Means and Coach Jutting were out of line in what they chose to do after the game. Their behavior really cheapened the effort of the Mavs. They played a heck of a game. They played well.

For the coaches to take issue with a couple of calls totally obscures the fine effort their team put out. Kalinski had a fantastic game, Zacharias was a stud in goal, Morin had a good game.

Coach Means and Coach Jutting should have focused their post game time on the positives accomplished during the game instead of taking issue with the officiating. I'm no fan of moral victories but going through life blaming others is a big problem in society today.

Coaches blew a good opportunity for a coachable moment with the Maverick hockey team.
Maybe next time.

redwing77 said...

A point missed in the mix when the opportunity arose to bash either the Mavericks or the Gophers is what Chris pointed out towards the end.

Is the WCHA truly the third best league after the NHL and AHL? Is it even the third best officiating in the NCAA?

Folks, when people have a problem like this on Campion, and Campion, like him or not, is certainly not the worst official the WCHA has to offer, doesn't that answer the question?

I was shocked to read that. The person who made that claim must be talking about talent level because, as a league, the WCHA isn't even close to the ECHL, much less the AHL. The officiating is so incompetant (and in the case of Don Adam, incompetant AND dangerous) that, really, there has become a two-pronged feeling towards officiating:

1. The only way to solve the solution adequately would require drastic action (overhauling the entire officiating crew from the top to the bottom, which may include firing many of the current officials)

2. Some coaches and, forbid I say it, players may decide that, since the officials won't call the game the way they should, they'll need to settle it themselves. In other words, vigilante-ism.

I don't condone type of attitude (which may be what we saw in Means' stupid confrontation) seen in #2, but I can't help but think that there is an ever growing perception that Greg Shepherd, and by extension, Bruce McLeod, isn't keeping the officials accountable for maintaining the proper standards of officiating and maintaining the overal atmosphere of safety necessary to prevent vigilante-ism in a "No Fight" environment. I don't like fights and I won't endorse them for the NCAA at any level. However, the thing is, if fights are not allowed, officiating must pick up the slack. They aren't doing it and apparently the teams are the only ones who get punished if they have poor performances. Refs seem to have a carte blanche in this regard.

Anonymous said...

Hey, I am surprised that Lofquist's name is not in here!!!!

Anonymous said...

MSUM over the last few years has both highest penalty minutes and goals against. What I have told from hockey scouts is that they annually have big but the slowest defensemen in the league every year, and the goals against and the penalty minutes are inevitable over the course of a long season. Not because they are "goons" but because they end up reaching and chasing in transition and in the defensive zone.

Anonymous said...

Friday and Sunday the disparity in penealty min could have been even greater.Many times the Mavs were holding sticks and nothing was called. Thaat is just one example. After it started to get out of hand is when more penelties were called. I would rather see the Ref's call EVERY infraction and nip the holding and gooning in the rear right away without regard to the scoreboard effect or "evening up".

Anonymous said...

Anon. 10:50

Slow Dmen explains some of the penalty disparity. It does not explain Kisio running Briggs or jumping into someone elses fight. The check from behind on Bariball which was DQ major not even called. The fight after Wheeler was tripped into Tormey where several Mavs ganged up on Wheeler. This evidence comes from two series imagine if I had watched most of their games. The Mavs play like goons so they get called goons.

RR said...

Keep playing the role of the "Victim".

"Fans" that constantly complain about officiating make me sick. In every game regardless of what calls are or are not made teams have numerous opportunities to make the plays needed to ensure a win.

A missed call here or there or a percieved bad call enable far too many "Fans" to maintain "We wus robbed". The offenders this day are Mankato fans but lets not forget the Sioux fans.

Fans that constantly complain about the refs just seem to prefer wearing the mantle of the victim. That way it is never their fault or the fault of the team they support. Instead they were cheated once again, the efforts of their opponents don't matter. The winning side cheated somehow or they had some unfair assistance.

Grow up. The "fans" that are always of the opinion that the referees hold a grudge against their team or the refs always favor certain teams need to realize that going through life as a victim is a dead end.

I'd rather hold my head high in defeat than constantly complain about how we got "screwd again". But that's just me.

Good luck this weekend. Good luck on the penalty kill. Also, try to stay onside when you are on the power play. Kinda kills your momentum when you go offsides on an odd man rush when on the power play. Or when you have six skaters on the ice. Oops. Damn ref, didn't know he could count.

Anonymous said...

RR-

While we are painting entire fanbases with a broad brush, let's not forget that UW fans are idiots and UMN fans are the most egotistical and arrogant fanbase in the WCHA. That way, when you paint MSUM and UND fans with a broad brush, you can be consistent.

OR, you can simply refrain from painting fanbases with sweeping generalizations and start saying that "some" fans from fanbase X aren't exactly ideal fans.

Just a thought.

RR said...

Anon-3:18

Thanks, I stand corrected. I am sorry I generalized the actions and comments of a few to entire fan bases. What I probably should have said was something along the lines of "some fans of" instead of what I did say.

I actually think it is unfair to generalize the behavior of a few to a larger group in order to articulate some sort of condemnation. I'll be more careful in the future.

After all, I did graduate from Mankato State. lol.

Nano, MADISON said...

To think of any official as biased towards a game is a completely ludacris idea. Officials that work games in the NCAA and particularily the WCHA, have earned the right to be there. Greg Sheppard was at that game doing evals and I'm pretty sure that Campion didn't miss any games do to incompetence or lack of knowledge. Also, no official wants to be the difference in any game. While the WCHA wants to see penalties even and encourages that with coincidental penalties going to 4 on 4 instead of 5 on 5, certain games demand that more penalties be called on one team than another.
Games that have tons more penalties called on one team rather than another can be attributed to a few things:
1. Better teams tend to get more penalties when they play a weaker team. While it may not be reflected in the score, teams that outskate and outplay their opponent often commit infractions that are a direct result of their effort. Add the penalty kill time and opposing power plays and you get little time for your team to score, thus resulting in a close game on the scoreboard.
2. The second situation is a direct result of scoring that happens during the game. As a team is losing by more and more the game gets chippy and the losing team usually ends up on the short end of the penalty calls.
Both of these situations deal directly with the discipline of one team or another. This being said the actions of the Mankato coaching staff are absolutely appauling. It is one thing to confront an official on the ice, but to take your issues off the ice is just dumb. People like this are the reason officials need security to get to the locker room and have to sneak out the back door. What most people don't realize is that when you yell at an official YOU are wrong and YOU are embarrassing yourself. This embarrassment is something that most coaches like to avoid, particularly coaches. Many times I have seen a coach yell across the ice at an official and the official is actually able to turn and smile, because they know the coach is embarrassing themself and they are wrong. Through all of this it is my opinion that Mankato definately outplayed Minnesota on Sunday and the coaches shoould have had something positive to move on from, but instead decided to blame someone because the scoreboard didn't reflect their efforts.

As for Campion's reaction to everything afterwards, he handled himself as well as any official probably would. Even though the most polite thing to do would have been to offer the coaching staff the armbands for the next game, but defending his position is just the same. Afterall if all you can do is criticize someone else's performance when your's needs the work you are probably dumb and niave enough to deserve it.

As I have grown up I have had the luxury of having someone stand beside me and help me learn as I have developed my career. Because of my father's love for the game he volunteered his time on the weekends to take me to the rink so I could officiate games. Being around hockey so long my father finds it upon himself that while at the games I officiate to still inform the parents that what they are yelling about is wrong. Furthermore when they get talking about the officials and he claims me, these people find the embarassment that they need to better enjoy the games. Even after the game my dad finds it necessary to expand his knowledge of the game, so if he doesn't know why I made a call he asks. He doesn't yell across the ice as many coaches and parents seem to think is right. Unfortunately, there are few people in the hockey community that have realized that this calm consultation is the key to enjoying the game. Through my esperience it has become clear to me that many people need some help with their knowledge of hockey. Maybe the coaching staff and the officials need to have more communication in order for officials to explain what and why. But this should not be the case in a WCHA game. These coaches are getting paid to do a job and understand the game of hockey. I have seen Squirt moms on the bench conduct themselves better than that. As for the officials the expectation is the same. While it is not possible to please everyone in the end both parties involved are getting paid because it is their profession. That being said this issue should have been dealt with in a professional matter, after both had time to think about thegame and prepare themsleves.

Anonymous said...

I hope the Goldie's that posted here are done defending Campion after this weekend. The Gophers were definately not the most talented team on the ice and neither team "gooned" it up and Campion still gave the Gophers tons of power plays (and all their goals).

Before this gets tagged as "gopher-bashing", let me point out the worst call of the weekend was one of the few against the Gophers: Porter steps on the puck and falls down untouched. Campion calls the penalty! What a joke!

Let's ignore Jutting for a minute. Now that Woog is out from league threat, it is obvious he does not respect the refereeing. Blais has all but said Parise left early because of the bad refereeing. Same with Mike Commidore. I am sure there are MANY others, those are the only two I can recall off the top of my head.

If the league didn't have its gage order, what would Lucia, Hakstol, et al say about it? I am pretty sure the answer is obvious and that should be embarassing for the WHCA!