This season, I noticed one big change in the press boxes.
There’s almost always a supervisor of officials there, and they take notes like I’ve never seen during my 10-plus years at the Herald.
So, I decided to inquire about it a little bit and ended up getting this story out of it. A lot of the stuff that I wrote about is out of the public eye, and I thought it might be an interesting read for those to see what’s going on behind the scenes.
As NCHC commish Josh Fenton told me in that story, officials are never going to be perfect, and they will always be criticized. Nobody ever particularly likes officials.
But, clearly, the NCHC and its members take seriously the goal of trying to develop its officials.
In the past, no matter what league’s games I attended, you maybe saw a supervisor of officials for five or six games during a season. That’s not saying that guys like Greg Shepherd weren’t going out. He was somewhere every single night. But he can only do so much himself.
What the NCHC decided to do was to monitor nearly every game. It’s an added expense, but one the league is willing to take on to try to improve officials and give them more feedback.
I’ve also never seen supervisors of officials take the detailed notes that Mike Schmitt and Don Adam do. They go through pages every single night, writing down everything — good and bad. They separate out each official and evaluate them individually.
There also is postgame feedback (in rare circumstances, in-game feedback if the supervisor feels it is necessary to go down between periods). And it’s not just supervisors saying, “Hey, you missed that call.” Instead, it’s more focused on stuff like, “Hey, you missed that call. This is why. This is what you can do so the mistake doesn’t happen again.”
Has it worked? So far, I think the results have been very positive.
In comparison with the Hockey East crew that we saw earlier this year, the NCHC officials have been much better. I can’t remember officiating being talked about as little as this year, which is a good thing for the officials.
I also think the amount of time they’ve spent talking to the bench has been cut significantly. They do still come over and talk to the benches sometimes, but not nearly as much. And when they do, it has generally been much faster (that’s a credit to the coaches, too).
No, you’re never going to like everything that officials do (is there a league in the world where people actually like officials?). Yes, they will make mistakes. And yes, there will be future controversies. Who knows, maybe there will be one this weekend.
But the increased oversight and feedback seems to be a good addition for the NCHC and a great development model for the officials.