Now NHL players are even getting physical with the refs
The NHL has long taken a benevolent view of players pummeling other players. But lately players have seemed less inclined to restrict their acts of violence to one another. In one recent 10-day span three players were suspended for 10 days each for physically abusing officials.
Jan. 16. Desperate to get a piece of Toronto Maple Leaf Bob Halkidis, Chicago Blackhawk forward Stu Grimson shoves linesman Ray Scapinello.
Jan. 21. Frustrated over failing to score on two breakaways, Buffalo Sabre forward Alexander Mogilny takes after St. Louis Blues forward Rich Sutter. As linesman Dan Schachte gets between them, Mogilny slaps Schachte on the side of the head.
Jan. 26. Furious after a last-minute Washington Capital goal, Pittsburgh Penguin forward Jaromir Jagr knocks referee Ron Hoggarth to his knees.
NHL rule 67(a) prohibits the physical abuse of officials by players. That it has been violated so brazenly is a measure of the erosion of respect players have for officials. One referee, Andy van Hellemond, a 19-year NHL veteran, links the trend to a recent jump in player salaries. "Players will mention what a pittance we're paid and tell us that a pittance is all we're worth," says van Hellemond. "Of course, that's not how they say it."
Oddly, the fact that abusing refs is subject to punishment seems to have taken some players by surprise. After Jagr was banned, his teammate Mario Lemieux recalled that earlier this season Viacheslav Fetisov of the New Jersey Devils drew a five-game suspension for hitting Lemieux with his stick. Comparing the sentences, Lemieux said indignantly, "Our guy gets 10 games for bumping a referee?" To which van Hellemond replies, "That's not a judgment call—it's right there in black and white. If you're making $2 million a year, you should know the rule book." Rule 67(a) in particular.
Rigging the Sails
America's Cup boats are off and racing near San Diego
While you've been watching the Super Bowl and gearing up for the Winter Olympics, the race for the America's Cup—the oldest trophy in sports—quietly started on the waters off San Diego. For the next three months two American syndicates will vie for the right to defend the cup won by Stars & Stripes in 1987, while eight foreign entries will compete to determine a challenger for the best-of-seven finale starting May 9.