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Upon Further Review

10/02/11

NHL War Room

Look, the NHL gets a lot wrong. This ain’t news. It’s been in the papers.

The way suspensions have been handed out has been a joke for years (Though hopefully new sheriff-in-town Brendan Shanahan is on the way to fixing that).  The annual NHL Awards show is an exercise in cringeworthy “entertainment”.  And there was that whole shutting the league down for a year thing that happened.  Really, that happened.

But since I’m a glass half-full kind of guy today, let me give you one thing that the NHL does right. Not perfect mind you, but right.  That is the setup of its replay system.  Have multiple people in a centralized location, off-site, reviewing incidents as needed/required, sequestered from the emotions of the venue.  Do they get all the calls correct?  No, again I said it’s not perfect.  But it seems that for a league that often deservedly (and just as often un-deservedly) takes a lot of static from the press and the public, especially in the U.S., here’s one area that they are ahead of the pack.  And that is clearly the case when compared to what passes for a replay system in the national obsession known as the National Football League.

This is the best idea they had?

Yeah, I’m writing this in the aftermath of the Bills loss in Cincinnati.  And even though the Bills did plenty on their own to come from ahead to lose (with some help from the Bengals), the post-game focus has squarely been on “The Call”.  Just ask yourself this question:  In which system would you have more faith in getting the call right?  The one with described in the paragraph above, or one in which another on-field official at the venue must go over and look under the hood of a replay machine tucked up against the stands, after which he may have to go back to the field and very publicly reverse the call of someone who he needs to work with for the rest of that day and season.  Oh, did I also mention that the rules are the most convoluted in sports, enough to make you at least cross-eyed, if not just cause cerebral hemorrhaging if dwelt upon for to long?  I’m not saying that they don’t want to get the call right.  Just that the lack of distance from the proceedings can certainly have an effect on what one deems to be “indisputable video evidence”.

Have there been issues? Sure have.  And to the league’s credit, they dealt with it swiftly.  I guess in the wake of a particularly brutal Sunday for the NFL zebras, I just wanted to make a point that on this issue, the league everyone loves taking potshots at is ahead of that seemingly bulletproof industry – professional football.

All right, that said how about another Buffalo winning streak getting started?  Does this Friday at 1 o’clock work for everybody?

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