Every player, coach and referee who has ever appeared in the NHL has his own story to tell about his first game in the League. The tale of my first game reffing in the NHL is an unconventional one. That's par for the course with me.
In my post-active career as an officiating supervisor and trainer, I have absolutely seen officials whom I can instantly tell are letting fear control them rather than confronting that fear by letting the game take shape and calling it accordingly.
Hockey is a sport of trends as well as evolution. That includes the enforcement of the rulebook and the development of the rules themselves. But the enforcement of some rules is stressed more than others.
Ontario would probably have to expand from two teams to about five teams to accommodate the talent, and London, Ontario -- just 200km west of Toronto -- would be able to put one of the strongest teams on the ice.
Much to the disappointment of his grand plan - Alfie didn't win a cup by signing with the Red Wings in July 2013 for one year. He did record a respectable season, with 18 goals, and 49 points in only 68 games.
Earlier this week, I was sitting at a hockey game in Matyshi, a suburb of Moscow. I was there to watch three young officials work a junior league game. I had just settled in to watch the start of the third period when my phone rang.
Hockey is a human game. No one wants to fail, and it can be an internal mental struggle to avoid dwelling on a mistake. A missed call can cause an official to lose his poise. He is more focused on what already happened than what's going on now.
Steve Yzerman was one of the greats. He also evolved into a player who commanded a lot of respect among fellow players as a team leader. That does not mean, however, that most officials enjoyed dealing with him.
The NHL's officiating department has no inclination to reform the way it does things. They enjoy their virtual immunity from being held accountable, and aren't about to call attention to areas where they need to get with the times.
NHL commissioner Gary Bettman is a controversial figure in many circles. That includes not only among fans and segments of the media, but also among some on the playing and officiating sides of the game.
I remember one time I worked a game in Los Angeles where I kept going to the non-congested areas with the best angle of the slot and net. Inevitably, I bumped into Wayne Gretzky as he arrived at the same spot.
Hockey is an emotional game, especially in the playoffs. Nevertheless, there is a right way and a wrong way to handle the emotions. One thing a player can never do, however, is use physical force against an official.
Another Stanley Cup playoff night has passed, and there's another headshot and impending suspension to discuss. Once again, the NHL will pay lip service to taking a "tough" stand on the type of hits that are a blight on the game.
Before the current Stanley Cup playoffs started, I predicted that Rule 69 (Goaltender Interference) was going to be a trouble spot in the postseason. It didn't take a psychic to successfully make that prediction.
When people complain about the "subpar" officiating in the NHL, I always tell them to look first at the coaching and instructions the officials receive. The NHL Rule Book is a messy, poorly written document.