Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Brutal Call

Frame of the onside play that led to the overtime winner
photo courtesy the Surrey Eagles

During Saturday night's game in Surrey, I made the over-the-top comment that a questionable onside play was a "brutal call" by the linesman. The way I saw it from the press box was Brady Shaw had both feet over the blue line ahead of the puck and that the linesman gave the onside signal before the puck even crossed the blue line.

Brady went down the ice and was able to pull the puck to his backhand and shelf the overtime winner for the Surrey Eagles. The goal was a sensational goal that gave the Eagles a clean sweep of their three game weekend set winning all three by a single goal and two of the three in overtime. My call did not let my listeners know any of this at the time, instead they were left with the impression that the Spruce Kings had been dealt a disservice.

Immediately following the game I started hearing rumblings that the play was onside. I checked with Brandon Batchelor who admitted that he thought the play was offside and when we first reviewed the video looked to be offside again. Upon further review and eventual frame by frame inspection, it became clear that the play was actually onside and that the play was called correctly by the linesman who was on top of the play.

I took a year off from broadcasting for a number of reasons and when I made the decision to come back this year, I wanted to be able to deliver a professional product. The poor display of broadcasting etiquette on November 3rd, was anything but professional and left me regretting my call of the game. I'll be honest and tell you that I contemplated leaving the microphone in the best interests of the game at the BCHL level.

The BCHL has made huge strides in recent years and this year there have been even more strides taken in the implementation of the rules and the commitment of the officials to make the right calls. Prior to my brutal call I never realized that long time NHL official, Brad Lazarowich was working with Derek Adams, Trevor Alto and the BCHL to coach and teach officials in the BCHL.

On Sunday I contacted Matt Erhart of the Surrey Eagles to apologize for my brutal call that was made in the Eagles pressbox with an assistant coach for the team standing less than three feet away from me. I let Matt know that the call wasn't directed at the Surrey Eagles or to Brady Shaw and that it was made in the heat of the moment. Matt accepted my apology and I asked him to pass it on to the assistant coach.

On Monday I contacted Trevor Alto at the BCHL and let him know that I was apologetic for my call and that I would like to pass along those apologies to Derek Adams and the entire officiating crew especially Ryan Gibbons - the linesman that made the right call. Trevor also accepted my apology and it was then that he told me about Brad Lazarowich's involvement with the BCHL.

Brad Lazarowich

On Tuesday I drafted an email and sent it to the BCHL outlining my apology to the BCHL officiating crew. To my surprise not fifteen minutes later, I received a call from Brad. He took the time to tell me how much he appreciated the letter of apology and that he understood how it can happen when dealing with a game in real time. Brad took the time to talk to me about how the League is changing the approach officials take to the game and to their calls.

A few times this season I have been made aware of calls that have been made during a game and later overturned and or clarified for the teams involved. In essence my lingering question of who polices the policemen has been answered. After every game the officials go over the game looking for calls made or missed. They look at every major penalty and every misconduct call and follow that up with a report that is filed with the League.

In addition to all of this, Brad Lazarowich will even go over games and personally contact officials to talk to them about good calls and yes bad calls made. All of this is to make all of the officials confident and accountable for their decisions made in real time. As well as the ongoing reviews, Brad has brought officiating workshop sessions to various locations around the Province.

In our conversation, Brad is trying to set up a workshop in Prince George and has asked me if I would like to be invited to it ... absolutely! I know that the officials today are great officials that take pride in the work that they do. With people like Brad Lazarowich, Derek Adams and Trevor Alto working at making the officials even better, there can be no question that the BCHL is the premier junior hockey league in Canada!

To everybody, I am sorry for making that "brutal call" on Saturday night and very much wish I had an opportunity for a do-over.

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