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What the Tim Peel incident says about the role of ‘game management’ –



EDMONTON — In the wake of the Tim Peel clip that shook the hockey world Wednesday, we ask the rhetorical question: From the standpoint of a National Hockey League referee, what exactly is game management?

Was Peel simply “managing the game” when he spoke of wanting to penalize Nashville “early in the” period, as he chatted with fellow referee Kelly Sutherland while standing too close to an ice effects microphone?

Or was he really trying to justify a poor call to his colleague, the way a player casts a look of blame at a perfectly good stick after he misses an open net? “It was a lousy call, but this is why I made it…”

“The guy had a brain cramp,” former NHL referee Paul Stewart said of Peel, with whom he once worked. “Maybe he looked at the penalty, or he thought about it, and he said, ‘That wasn’t so good.’ So maybe he was trying to give himself a little ‘atta boy’ to buck up his spirit.”

Maybe Peel was simply executing one of the commonly held definitions of “game management” by handing a minor to Nashville early in the second period, because Detroit had the only minor in the first period. That didn’t fly with former NHL Director of Officiating Bryan Lewis, who spoke to “The Writers Block” Wednesday.

“There was no need to overwork that game,” Lewis said.

Translation: It was a calm, low-event game that did not need over managing by the zebras.

So why was Peel managing this game? Perhaps he was executing the old “make-up call” after missing something earlier.

“There are screens and replays,” offered Oilers winger Tyler Ennis. “Maybe they’ll catch something that they missed.”

Perhaps, but if so Peel should have kept his mouth shut about it.

Peel’s comments cost him his final month on the job after nearly 1,500 games, and the chance to retire with dignity in a referee’s traditional final game later this season. A league that has fostered game management, condoned game management — and quite possibly taught game management to its officials — for decades, disciplined Peel Wednesday for verbalizing his own attempt at game management.

Could we ever exorcize hockey of “game management?” Or are we stuck with it?

Is it too easy to simply say, “call the rule book?”

Or this old favourite: “Set a standard and stick with it.”

Let’s start with the standard: What does a referee do when his partner makes a soft call? Does he then make soft calls the rest of the night, because “the standard” is set?

“When you have a call that may be perceived as a soft call,” said Edmonton head coach Dave Tippett, “then a coach says, ‘OK, that’s the standard that’s set for tonight.’ So you’re looking for a bunch more soft calls.”

If a player misses a scoring chance early, he tries to improve as the game goes on. Should the referees not do the same? Do we expect them to get every call 100 per cent correct?

“Game management is a term that someone came up with that I never subscribed to,” said Stewart, who worked over 1,000 NHL games. “My attitude was to go out there, be in position, observe what you see and make the appropriate call.”

Even Stewart admits, however, to a level of game management. He would talk to a player who was close to earning a penalty, in hopes that player would correct his game.

“You have plays that aren’t a two-minute penalty, but might be a one-minute penalty. They’re on the edge. That’s when you communicate with a player,” Stewart said.

If the player does the same thing the next shift, often Stewart would make the call. Two “one-minute penalties” would thus become a two-minute penalty, a form of game management.

Take it into your kitchen: Your child does something inappropriate, and you say clearly, “Please don’t so that. In our house, that is not something that is condoned.”

No punishment. Just simple direction.

Five minutes later the child does the same thing, with no regard for the parent’s previous communication. In most households, some kind of penalty would be applied upon the second infraction that was not applied the first time.

What doesn’t happen however, is that the parent doesn’t go looking for a sibling to “even up” the discipline.

There is beat management among us sports writers, where we work harder on some relationships than others, so we can provide the reader with the best possible product.

There is office management, where our bosses makes certain decisions that may differ depending on the people they affect.

We’ve all had good, fair bosses who make the proper calls, and bad ones who don’t. The same way Wes McCauley works one game, while a far less experienced official works another.

Yet somehow we look at all the NHL officials and expect them to perform equally — like robots from the same factory — because they are both NHL referees.

But we don’t ask Wayne Simmonds to play the same as Connor McDavid, even though they are both NHL players.

Whatever the solution, hockey has become a sport that lives with game management the way a giraffe lives with those birds that stand on his head and clean his fur.

They’re old friends, even if they bug each other sometimes.

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Boston Bruins Add Offense With Solid Taylor Hall Trade – Boston Hockey Now



The Boston Bruins clearly understood they had serious deficiencies on their NHL roster this season and credit them for going and doing something about it.

The B’s finished off their Sunday night fireworks ahead of the NHL trade deadline by sending a second round pick and Anders Bjork to the Buffalo Sabres in exchange for top-6 winger Taylor Hall and bottom-6 forward Curtis Lazar. TSN’s Darren Dreger, Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman and ESPN’s John Buccigross were the first to report about the completed deal between the Bruins and Buffalo Sabres in the hours following the B’s getting stomped by the Washington Capitals, 8-1, at TD Garden.

The Buffalo Sabres retained half of the $8 million salary that Hall signed for prior to the start of the 2021 hockey season.

The 29-year-old Hall is having a terrible season in Buffalo with just two goals and 19 points in 37 games along with a minus-21 rating after he chose to sign a one-year deal with the Sabres during the offseason. But he brings legitimate offensive talent as a former No. 1 overall pick and Hart Trophy winner to a Boston Bruins team that’s ranked in the bottom third of the NHL offensively all season.

The Bruins were one of the suitors for Hall prior to him choosing the Sabres months ago, and now they get him for a deep discount while keeping their own first round picks after making their deadline deals.

Holding onto their own first round pick was a priority for Boston Bruins GM Don Sweeney after spending first rounders at the deadline in two of the last three deadlines in trades for damaged goods Rick Nash and Ondrej Kase.

The 26-year-old Lazar has five goals and 11 points in 33 games as a bottom-6 forward for the Sabres this season and is signed for $800,000 for next season. It seemed clear that something was going on with the 24-year-old Anders Bjork over the last couple of weeks as he was a healthy scratch for five straight games, including Sunday night against Washington, and heads to Buffalo hoping to further develop a game built on speed and skill level that hasn’t translated into offense as of yet.

Hall should fit right into the top-6 with the Bruins as a skilled winger for playmaking center David Krejci, but it remains to be seen how he’s going to fit as another left winger on a team with Nick Ritchie and Jake DeBrusk.

Either Ritchie or DeBrusk is going to have to play the off wing with a Krejci/Hall combo, but that’s a problem that Boston Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy will gladly figure out after being forced to piece together lineups all season due to injuries and offensive inconsistency. With the acquisition of Hall, Lazar and left-handed defenseman Mike Reilly on Sunday night, it would appear the Boston Bruins are largely done with deals ahead of Monday’s NHL trade deadline.

Interestingly enough, the Boston Bruins are set to play the Buffalo Sabres on Tuesday night at TD Garden.

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Drouin must return to mentality that’s led to success this season –



It was something Dominique Ducharme said after his Montreal Canadiens played an abysmal game against the Ottawa Senators last week, something that only truly resonated after they lost 3-2 to the Toronto Maple Leafs on Wednesday — a game that emboldened the struggle Jonathan Drouin’s currently enduring.

“Ninety per cent of the mistakes we made were mental, and the rest of it was above our shoulders.” the coach said after the 6-3 loss to Ottawa last Saturday, somewhat channelling New York Yankees legend Yogi Berra with this bit of wit and wisdom.

It was hard not to think of those words watching Drouin play the way he did on Wednesday. For much of this season, the talented left winger has played a primary role in Montreal’s success. He’s led them with 19 assists, been tenacious on the forecheck, physically engaged all over the ice, cerebral as always in his execution and, as he’s said on several occasions, relatively unconcerned by whether or not his name has been featured on the scoresheet.

But it seemed clear, after watching Drouin dump a breakaway into Jack Campbell’s chest with one of 32 shots the Maple Leafs goaltender turned aside to set a franchise record with his 10th consecutive win, he had diverted from that. And that affected the way he played the rest of the game.

It was Drouin’s fifth in a row without a point, his 18th without a goal, and he’d have to be a robot not to be suffering the mental wear of not seeing the puck go in more than twice since the season started, the torment of seeing only three per cent of his shots hit the back of the net through 36 games after 10 per cent of them resulted in goals through the first 348 games of his career.

“It is weighing on me where, when I have a chance and miss the goal, I might be trying to score too much,” Drouin said. “It’s something I obviously think about — every player would — and I’ve just gotta put it past me and just keep shooting pucks.”

Ideally, the 26-year-old wouldn’t be thinking about any of this. These are thoughts that weigh a player down and right now the Canadiens are in tough without Brendan Gallagher for the rest of the season and Drouin needs to be light and free to help account for that loss. And in order for him to do that, he needs to focus on what he does best.

Because the reality is that even though Drouin can score more, scoring isn’t what he needs to do in order to be at his best and really help this team.

“When his feet are moving and he’s making plays, Drou’s a pass-first guy,” explained Jake Allen, who made 29 saves in Carey Price’s absence. “When his feet are moving, his head’s always in it. When his feet are moving, he’s controlling the play, controlling the puck. He’s a guy who really can control the play for a whole line. You want the puck on that guy’s stick and let the other guys do the dirty work and he’ll find them.”

But when Drouin’s feet aren’t moving, there just isn’t enough of that other stuff happening.

When Drouin’s feet weren’t moving, he lost a battle for the puck in the offensive zone and allowed the NHL’s leading goal scorer to start the rush that resulted in the winning play of Wednesday’s game.

Auston Matthews to Mitch Marner, back to Matthews, off Allen and slammed into Montreal’s net by Zach Hyman with 9:39 remaining in the third period, with Drouin watching from just inside his own blue line.

“You give a 3-on-2 to the Matthews line and it’s the kind of play they’re going to make you pay on,” said Ducharme.

Was Drouin still thinking about that shot he didn’t bury in the second period?

It’s understandable if he was, but those are the kind of thoughts he needs to shake right now.

“He wants to do well, and I’m sure it’s getting a little bit in his head,” said Ducharme. “I think the best remedy for him is to be scoring that goal or making that big play, and I think he’s going to be energized by that and less thinking, more acting.

“It is a fine line. Those kind of thoughts is not something that you want to happen. But when you receive that puck and you see the opening and stuff, (the slump) comes back to (your mind). That’s why the mental part of the game is something that’s very tricky. It’s not his will to be thinking that way. Every player who’s going through a time like that will have that thought and scoring that goal will take him to a different level. At those kind of times you need to make it even simpler and being even more inside going at the net and finding a garbage (goal) right there and you put it in and sometimes you go on a little run. It might be that kind of goal that he needs to get that monkey off his back.”

It’s the kind of goal Corey Perry scored twice to give the Canadiens a chance in this game.

But Drouin isn’t Perry, who rightly pointed out after the game he’s made a career of scoring goals that way. And even if Drouin can borrow from what Perry does next time he has a chance like the one Brett Kulak set him up with for that breakaway, there are other ways he can positively impact the game.

You can appreciate that Drouin said he’s putting pressure on himself to score more and help make up for the goals the team will be missing with Gallagher sidelined, but that might not get him to where he needs to be mentally to contribute as much as he already has this season.

What would, though, is a sharp turn towards the mentality he described just days ago. The one that’s enabled him to be a much more consistent player this season than he has in seasons past.

“When I was younger, I’d stay on one game or stay on one play for too long and wouldn’t be able to let it go for a bit or a couple of days,” Drouin said. “But I think for me now it’s can I look at myself in the mirror after a game and did I give my good effort? Was I a part of this game? Was I doing something right in a lot of areas?

“That’s what I do now. I think points are there, goals are there, assists are there, but it’s just about playing that real game and playing to help your team win.”

Drouin’s done a lot of that this season and has a chance to get right back to it when the Winnipeg Jets visit the Bell Centre Thursday.

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Scioscia to lead U.S. baseball bid for spot at Tokyo Olympics



(Reuters) – Mike Scioscia, who won World Series both as a player and manager, was named manager of the U.S. men’s national baseball team on Tuesday, as they seek a spot at the Tokyo Olympics.

After 19 seasons as manager of the Anaheim Angels, guiding them to their only World Series win in 2002, Scioscia will make his international coaching debut in June when the United States hosts the Baseball Americas Qualifier in Florida.

For the tournament the U.S. will be grouped with the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, and Nicaragua in Pool A while Canada, Colombia, Cuba, and Venezuela will make up Pool B.

The top two teams from each pool will advance to the Super Round, where the country with the best overall record will earn a spot in the Tokyo Olympic tournament.

Second and third-place finishers will advance to a final qualifier, joining Australia, China, Taiwan, and the Netherlands.

“Mike’s tenure with the Angels’ franchise was nothing short of spectacular, creating and celebrating a culture of success with six division titles, an American League pennant, and its first-ever World Series title,” said USA Baseball Executive Director/CEO Paul Seiler in a statement. “More impactfully, his leadership, integrity, and character are unparalleled in our game, making him the perfect fit for the USA Baseball family.”

The Olympic tournament will take place from July 28-Aug. 7 in Fukushima City and Yokohama.

Hosts Japan, Israel, South Korea, and Mexico have already secured a berth in the six-team field.


(Reporting by Steve Keating in Toronto. Editing by Toby Davis)

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