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The NHL : Trottier Fined for Article Criticizing Officials

March 05, 1987|Julie Cart

Bryan Trottier's right to free speech has cost him $1,000.

Writing an article in Hockey News last week, the New York Islander center criticized the officiating in the National Hockey League, saying: "Some nights I think the refereeing in the NHL is worse than at any time since I joined the league in 1975."

League President John Ziegler fined Trottier the maximum allowed under NHL bylaws.

Trottier volunteered to write the article and said he hoped positive changes would result from it.

"It's not that the refs are incompetent," Trottier wrote. "Most have the ability to call a good game. It's just that for some reason they are unwilling to enforce rules strictly and consistently.

"Maybe they don't want penalties all the time. Maybe they don't want to affect the outcome of games. In the long run, they are affecting the quality of the sport and the mentality of the player."

Trottier said officials are not calling enough penalties for hooking and holding and that, paradoxically, is slowing the game.

"By not cracking down, the refs are helping slow the game down from where it was two years ago," he wrote.

Speaking of the article, Trottier said: "I wasn't trying to be a martyr. I had something on my mind, I said it and I'm going to pay the price. The only thing I was trying to say was, 'Watch the holding, hooking and the grabbing.' I tried to generalize it."

Trottier isn't alone in his appraisal of NHL officiating. Said teammate Mike Bossy:

"Something should be done. It's a shame our game isn't respected as much as a professional sport as it should be. I think the lack of enforcement of the rules is one reason why."

Buffalo Sabre Coach Ted Sator agreed with the players. "If there's not enforcement of the rules," Sator said, "what's the sense of having them? Flagrant hooking and holding penalties are not being called."

The six Edmonton Oilers who played in the two-game Rendez-Vous series against the Soviets were given four days off in Arizona before Wednesday night's game at Vancouver. Edmonton Coach Glen Sather gave Wayne Gretzky, Mark Messier, Esa Tikkanen, Jari Kurri, Glenn Anderson and Grant Fuhr the rest in the sunshine, hoping to revive his team's stars.

The Oilers are 1-5 since Rendez-Vous, including four straight losses--their longest losing streak in three seasons.

Gretzky was scoreless in three of the games, a rarity. "I guess Larry Bird has stretches where he doesn't play well," Gretzky said, referring to the basketball star.

Gretzky, a pretty fair baseball player, has been showing up at Chicago Cub practices.

The Oilers expect former Ranger defenseman Reijo Ruotsalainen to join the team within two to three weeks.

The Oilers acquired the rights to the Finn in a trade with the Rangers earlier in the season while Ruotsalainen was playing in Switzerland. His team's season ends this week.

Although he hasn't agreed to a contract with the Oilers, that should be no problem.

After months of grandstanding and gaining political mileage from its proposal to crack down on fighting in professional sports, the Boston City Council has backed down.

The chairman of the government operations committee said his panel will recommend that the 13-member council place the proposed ordinance on file, essentially scuttling the plan.

The council and Mayor Ray Flynn were responding to several on-ice fights involving the Bruins. The proposed ordinance allowed the police to arrest athletes for fighting during games.

NHL Notes

A recent poll of 21 of the 63 voters for the Calder Trophy, which goes to the NHL's top rookie, resulted in a 10-10 tie between the Kings' Luc Robitaille and Philadelphia goaltender Ron Hextall. . . . The Ontario Hockey Assn. has fined and suspended the management of the Hamilton Kilty B's for not trying in the final game of the season. A goalie reportedly threw a puck into his own net, and the team did not attempt to shoot during a 4 1/2-minute power play. "They made a travesty of a hockey game," a club director said. The Kiltys lost, 7-2, to the Thorold Black Hawks. . . . Calgary will have its roster bolstered by the return of defenseman Kari Eloranta by the middle of the month. Eloranta has been playing in Sweden. . . . Three of the top road teams in the NHL are Edmonton, Winnipeg and Calgary, all in the Smythe Division. That's testimony to the amount of traveling in the division and, says Calgary's Joel Otto, shows what tough scheduling can do for a team. "Being on the road as long as we are helps you become close. We eat as a team, go to the rink together. In New York, players drive themselves to most road games."

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