Saturday, October 6, 2012

Eating the call (Sunday brunch: October 7, 2012)

Getting a wordplay wrong in my annotation last week was like missing a call on the ice.  It happens from time to time, and the best thing to do when it happens is to own up to it right away.  Dealing with and learning from the mistakes you make was one of the subjects of a special presentation at our USA Hockey referee seminar last week.

The story is kind of long so scroll down if you want to read more: here are this week's puzzles.  As sometimes works out, this week is a threefer by Hex (all-star constructors Emily Cox and Henry Rathvon).

"Connect the Dots," a variety cryptic by Hex, is this week's WSJ Saturday puzzle.  Early reviews say it's hard, and you'd better be prepared for typical Hex use of secondary definitions.

Hex have the dinner menu in their weekly block cryptic in the National Post (link to Falcon).

And their usual bi-weekly New York Times acrostic (link to Deb Amlen's Wordplay blog at the NYT)

(hockey story below the fold)

While you were eating brunch last Sunday morning, I was down at the Wells Fargo Center at our referee seminar.  This year, the district reconfigured their advanced seminars into bigger regional programs instead of smaller local programs.  That way, the programming could be more specialized, and the instructors had a chance to revise things based on how the first group reacted to their presentation.  It also was a great chance to catch up with some old partners I hadn't seen in a while.

The seminar featured a special guest, Ian Walsh, Philly native and NHL referee.  I worked a few bantam games with Ian as he was on his way up, though I'm sure he wouldn't remember me from all the other guys he's worked with over the years.  Ian showed us a great motivational video the league produced for him and his colleagues, along with one of the training videos they send out during the season, reminding officials about points of emphasis like “lawn chairs”: players who fold up at the slightest contact to try and draw a penalty. 
But the most important lesson Ian had for us came from two situations he showed us where he and his partner missed calls on hits that resulted in injured players and suspensions.  One was the hit by Raffi Torres that knocked out Marian Hossa.  Ian, his partner Stephen Walkom (one of the most senior officals in the league), and his linesmen all saw Torres hit Walkom in the open ice, but none of them saw Torres’s arm hit Hossa’s head, so there was no penalty.  You don’t guess at that level.
As soon as he saw the replay, Ian knew not only that he missed a major offense, but also that that meant he had no chance of advancing to the second round of the playoffs (officials are graded on their performance, and only the best move on each round).  He knew his season was going to be over, and said he couldn’t sleep at all that night.  But he had to work his last two games.  How do you get over something like that?
The answer is a good attitude, and to have the right expectations, Ian told us.  Perfection is what we aim for in whatever our line of work (or recreation) is, but it’s unrealistic for us to attain perfection in the long run.  So excellence is the standard we should measure ourselves by, not perfection. 
Ian also reminded us that when we do blow a call, it’s a lot better to acknowledge it right away.  Going on like nothing happened while ignoring the coach’s or players’ objections not only marks you as distant and unwilling to listen, it also makes you look like you aren’t aware of how you’re performing. 
I blow enough calls that I get plenty of practice in that kind of communication.  Fortunately, the one Sunday night wasn’t too bad.  The grey team had a penalty late in the first period, but as I got a rest and a drink of water during the break, I forgot about the man in the box.  Soon after the opening face-off of the second, grey got control and dumped the puck down the ice.  I instinctively yelled for “icing,” but there’s no icing while you’re short-handed. 
Thankfully, my partner was aware of the situation, and immediately waved it off, so play continued.  It took me a moment to figure out what had happened.  The player who had dumped the puck came over, and before he could say a word, I told him: “I was wrong, you were right.”  That was that, and the rest of the game was easy. 

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