Sunday, June 1, 2014

Ref strike (Sunday brunch: June 2, 2014)

Puzzles first this week, then the hockey story.

Two acrostic weekend: the New York Times has a Hex acrostic behind the paywall: blogged (with spoilers) by Deb Amlen.  The weekend Wall Street Journal puzzle is an acrostic by Mike Shenk.  Mike made it a satisfying one by putting enough easy answers at the beginning that most solvers would have enough letters from the first time through the clues to be able to complete some words from the quote and have hints for the next time through.

Falcon is back from vacation to blog the National Post puzzle by Hex and post the ones that were published the weeks he was off in Europe.  This weekend’s puzzle was very easy.  As usual, there’s a harder cryptic in the Globe and Mail.

LizR is back too, with one of her Brit cryptics, and a diet of worms (see the comments for explanation).

Last week I hinted there were some league commissioners who weren’t so good about suspending players who got third-man-in penalties or engaged in otherwise egregious misconduct.    They’re how leagues get reputations as “goon leagues.”

Most men’s league players have a family to go home to after the game and a job to go to the next morning.  Brawling is not the reason they play hockey.  But like there are some hooligans among soccer fans, there are hockey players (who probably watch too much TV hockey) who make fighting (or at least scuffling) a big part of their game.

Most leagues, when they’re faced with players like this (or worse yet, a team of players who egg each other on), think of the guys who are going to work the next morning, and invite the brawlers to go find another place to play.  There are exceptions though, and usually for the same reason.  Men’s league is a pretty important source of revenue for most rinks.  Kicking a player or team out of the league costs them money, so they’ll avoid taking that step.  And some players have figured that out, so they’ll threaten to quit and take their money with them if a player is kicked out or suspended too long.

I had to deal with one of those teams in the Penn league a few years ago.  My partner and I gave one of their players a triple game misconduct (spearing, then fighting and pulling off the opponent’s helmet, all in the same incident) and we saw him back on the ice the next week.  He had a few more run-ins with the law that season, but fortunately, he didn’t come back the next season.

The officials in the Washington area (where I worked the 93-94 season) have a strong and well-run association.  They handle all the scheduling and payment of officials for most of the hockey in the region.  One time, a league gave in to a captain who threatened to take his team out of the league if the suspension of one of his players wasn’t overturned.  After finding the player back in action, the association stopped assigning refs to that league and instructed its members to stay away from that rink until the suspension was enforced.  The league tried to go on with refs who weren’t association members and a few who ignored the boycott, but that didn’t work for long, and the forces of order and gentlemanly hockey prevailed.

I wish I had that kind of backing in my day job.

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