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Scorecard May 5, 1997
Edited by Richard O'Brien and Hank Hersch
May 05, 1997
Video-Reviewing the NHL...Replacement Pitcher Finds a Place...A Fresh Perspective on Fuzzy...Lacrosse Scoring Limit...The NBA's Distaff Refs...Mullen's Final Skate
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May 05, 1997

Scorecard May 5, 1997

Video-Reviewing the NHL...Replacement Pitcher Finds a Place...A Fresh Perspective on Fuzzy...Lacrosse Scoring Limit...The NBA's Distaff Refs...Mullen's Final Skate

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The recent announcement that two women are likely to referee in the NBA next season has received mixed reactions. "I'm all for it," says Denver Nuggets guard Kenny Smith. "Women have better judgment than men." The Miami Heat's Tim Hardaway differs: "I think that's horrible, honestly. This is our game, and let it stay our game." Here's the skinny on the female pioneers.

37 (5'7½", 142 pounds)

32 (5'9", 160 pounds)

highest athletic achievement

Field hockey star at Pitt from 1978 to '82

Led Cal Poly-Pomona to Division II basketball titles in 1985 and '86

most memorable reffing assignment

1993 Women's NCAA championship game

1996 Women's NCAA championship game

most daunting challenge

"There's going to be a lot of attention. [But] I'm here to ref and not carry a flag for women or prove anything."

"Getting used to the players. They're so much bigger that it's hard just to see around them."

favorite scene from Forget Paris

When Debra Winger had a bird stuck to her head

When ref Billy Crystal had a breakdown and began haphazardly ejecting players.

Replay Review

When is a goal not yet a goal? When it's under video review. In the first 45 games of the NHL playoffs, 38 potential goals were reviewed on video, and with each replay, talk about camera angles and rules technicalities further eclipsed discussion of on-ice action.

In 27 of the cases, game officials went to the videotape to determine if an offensive player was in the crease at the time the puck entered the goal. Before the 1995-96 season the NHL adopted a "zero tolerance" stance on offensive players in the crease, regardless of whether they interfered with the goalie. Before this year's playoffs, the league told its on-ice officials to have a "heightened awareness" of their option to resort to video to make in-the-crease calls.

Protecting the goalie's domain is important, but crease infractions should be called by the refs on the ice, as penalties are. Videotape review is not necessarily conclusive; an offensive player is absolved of intruding into the crease if he was pushed by a defender, yet video judges are empowered only to say whether a player was in the crease, not how he got there. With players so often close enough to the crease to warrant review, the NHL faces the same burden of nondefinitive replays and tiresome delays that plagued the NFL when it employed instant replay from 1986 to '91.

Conversely, using replay to confirm that a puck fully crossed the goal line is as well-suited an application of video review as could be found in sports. Pucks ricochet out of the net at high speeds, and referees often get blocked out. The cameras positioned over every goal provide excellent, unobstructed views of the goal line and net. In overtime of Game 3 of the Florida Panthers-New York Rangers first-round series (page 48), Rangers forward Esa Tikkanen slapped a shot on goal and raised his arms in triumph. The puck appeared to have bounced off the crossbar, however, and play continued for nine seconds before referee Dan Marouelli stopped the game to call upstairs, where a judge was reviewing the tape.

For several minutes both teams and the SRO crowd at Madison Square Garden were riveted to Marouelli until he announced that Tikkanen had scored. Though it dampened the climax of an exciting game, the use of replay in that case was wise and ensured the right call.

Video review is terrific for goal line controversies. But the NHL should keep cameras, along with aggressive forwards, out of the crease.

Literary Critics

At an autograph session last week at Manhattan's Official All Star Cafe to promote his autobiography, Just Give Me the Damn Ball!, New York Jets wide receiver Keyshawn Johnson insisted that the book's harsh criticism of several Jets, among them quarterback Neil O'Donnell, wouldn't cause problems with his teammates. "We're all professionals," he said. "Everyone on the team should have a positive attitude about it all."

Maybe so. But at the same spot earlier in the week, according to a restaurant employee, some two dozen of Johnson's fellow Jets, who had dropped in for dinner, made a statement of their own. During their meal, an announcement was made that in a few days Johnson would be appearing to promote his book.

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