Saturday, March 8, 2014

Dumping a coach (Sunday brunch: March 9, 2014)

Well, I got three quarters through the season before I had to assess any game misconducts this year.  No more: I had to dump a coach last weekend.  Or more precisely, the coach did stuff that he should have known was going to get him a game misconduct, and I penalized him appropriately.

There’s a popular opinion that referees are out to get coaches, but aside from a few ego cases, most of us are trying to keep the coaches and players in the game.  Part of it is for the good of the players and the game, but there’s also a selfish reason: it’s a pain in the tail to dump a coach.  Most immediately, it risks turning the rest of the team and the spectators against you and your partner, and then after the game it’s just a boatload of paperwork and hassle. (continued below the puzzles)

I don’t think I made note of this month’s Harper’s puzzle.  It’s called Gremlins, and after a couple of relatively easy puzzles from Maltby, we get a tough one again.  Each and every clue has an alteration, and each and every answer has an alteration.

By comparison, the acrosses in the Kevin Wald Academy Awards puzzle are all normal, which made it considerably less difficult than his puzzles usually are.

Straight cryptics?  We have a trio: Hex in the National Post, Fraser Simpson in the Globe and Mail, and LizR’s Brit cryptic, in order of difficulty.  Some nice clues in the Simpson and LizR puzzles so if you don’t usually attempt them, consider a try this week.  Even if you don’t get all the way through (I often can’t), they’re enjoyable.

The New York Times variety puzzle (behind the paywall) is an acrostic by Hex.  Hex also have their weekly straight cryptic in the National Post while Fraser Simpson constructs for the Globe and Mail.

We also have an acrostic (by Mike Shenk) in the Wall Street Journal (Java and printable versions).  It was easy, perhaps because there was so much repetition.  I got several letters of a key word in one place, and some different letters in another, and nailed that word, which quickly led to the neighboring words and the rest of the puzzle.  A lesson there for constructors.

Elsewhere in the puzzle world, Puzzazz released an update to their app this week, and it’s a big one. You can now solve any .puz or ipuz in the app, if the author provides the download link.

(back to hockey below the fold)

Whenever there’s a game misconduct or other such penalty, the referee must file a game report with USA Hockey for possible supplementary action by the district.  Game misconducts normally call for an automatic suspension of one game or more, but there may be an appeal, or a reason to lengthen the suspension, and the authorities need to know just what went on to make their decision.  Not to mention that sometimes the referee may get in trouble if a rule was applied incorrectly.

Being a writer and a crossword solver helps with writing the reports; being a cryptic solver helps even more.  Why?  Because there are certain written and unwritten rules about composing them, and the closer you follow the rules, the better the finished product will be.

With hockey, our instructions are to be terse and factual: we must not say something akin to “#89 is an animal and ought to be out for the rest of the year,” much as we would be glad to say it if asked.  But if you write carefully, I’m sure you can steer the disciplinary official to the outcome you think would be right.

In yesterday’s case, I think that would be a minimal suspension.  I dumped the coach for not only persisting in arguing a call after I’d already given his team a bench minor, but escalating it to profanities.  Believe me I hear a lot of four-letter words in men’s league, some of them directed at me, so I’m no shrinking violet in that respect (I do have my automatics though).  I’d given one of his players 2 and 10 for boarding, and he objected to the penalty.  I gave him several warnings to stop, but he only escalated, so I had to dump him.

So it was a garden variety GM and I figured the ejection was punishment enough.  So while I didn’t say in so many words that no additional suspension was warranted, I know I can steer the authorities to the outcome I think is right.  To do that, I made sure to mention that the player I penalized went right to the penalty bench, and the coach’s assistant kept his team in control of themselves the rest of the way.

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