JOHN STEIGERWALD: NHL should add official in press box
May 12, 2013 3:00 AM

Time for an eye in the sky?

One of these days an NHL team is going to lose a game or a series because of a retaliatory penalty.

Player A two-hands Player B behind the knees.

Player B takes offense and cross-checks Player A in the throat.

The referee misses the two-hander but sees the cross-check. Player B gets a double minor and Player A gets nothing.

Instead of a 4-on-4 situation, Player A’s team is rewarded — that’s right, rewarded for a two-hander behind the knees — with a power play. Player A’s team scores the game-winning or series-winning goal.

How stupid is this?

There were 20,000 witnesses who saw the original two-hander. Somehow both referees missed it.

Player B writhing around on the ice and then being helped to the bench by the trainer doesn’t influence him because he can’t call a penalty he didn’t see.

Would it be that difficult or that outrageous to have an official in the press box who could be equipped to buzz the referee to tell him why there had been a player writhing on the ice?

Video review has been a part of pro sports for a long time now. Results are changed all the time.

There’s still a place for a human witness who can, as they like to tell us, “Get it right.”

How about taking it a step further and having the eye in the sky be the final arbiter? Major league baseball could have used one of those in the ninth inning of a game Wednesday night in Cleveland.

The Indians were leading 4-3 when third base umpire Angel Hernandez gave no home run signal on a ball hit by Adam Rosales of the Athletics even though the replay showed it had cleared the left field wall. He ruled that the ball hit the top of the outfield wall, and 100 percent clear refutation by the replay wasn’t enough to change his mind.

Rosales had to stay at second base and the Indians held on to win the game.

All major leagues should have someone in the press box who can overrule the officials on the field when they are in danger of screwing up a game or, in Hernandez’s case, insistent on embarrassing themselves.

Get it right.

• If you like hockey, you should pause every now and then to appreciate how lucky you are to have Sidney Crosby to watch up to 100 times a year. Especially after having Mario Lemieux to watch for almost 20 years.

If you are over 30, you have had two once-in-a-lifetime players to root for in your lifetime. It’s kind of like Chicago basketball fans getting LeBron James to follow Michael Jordan.

Only better.

When he’s been healthy the last three seasons, which isn’t nearly often enough, Crosby has been separating himself from the rest of the players in the NHL as much as Lemieux did in his prime. I’ve said for years that Lemieux is the best player I’ve ever seen in a team sport, but, although the numbers are different because the game has changed so much, I see very little if any difference in the degree of Crosby’s separation.

• Crosby, Alexander Ovechkin and John Tavares are the finalists for the Hart Trophy for NHL most valuable player. Crosby is the best player in the league, but he missed a third of the season because he was injured.

Ovechkin missed the same amount of time because he didn’t show up for the first 20 games.

A case could be made for Tavares because of the success of the Islanders, but not enough to keep the award from Crosby.

• Two months ago, if you asked Penguins fans if they would trade Evgeni Malkin for Ovechkin, you wouldn’t have gotten one yes.

Now?

You might get a few yes votes but, as frustrating as Malkin can be at times, he’s still a better all-around player and more consistent.

• When I see highlights of LeBron James’ alley-oop dunks, I’m usually much more impressed with the pass.

• It’s too bad the Ducks and Kings, two good, exciting hockey teams, have to be wasted on Los Angeles. There are infomercials getting better TV ratings in that market.

• The Miami Marlins, playing the second season in their dishonestly funded ballpark, are last in National League attendance. Good.

• The Miami Dolphins’ request for $250 million to refurbish their stadium was turned down. This is also good.

• I think whiteouts or whatever-your-favorite color-outs at major professional games are kind of girly. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

• If major league baseball reacted to injuries the way the NFL has/does, the line drive would be outlawed next year.

John Steigerwald’s blog can be found at www.justwatchthegame.com, and he is the author of “Just Watch the Game.” His column appears each Sunday.

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