That gulp you've been hearing of late is the sound of NHL refs swallowing their whistles at key moments of playoff games. To wit: During the New York Islanders' 4-1 win over the Montreal Canadiens last Saturday in Game 4 of the Wales Conference finals, Montreal hatchet man Lyle Odelein clubbed New York's Ray Ferraro in the head with a stick. The blow felled Ferraro and put him out of action, but ref Dan Marouelli didn't call anything.
Such oversights have been most common in overtime. During a bungled line change in OT of the Canadiens' 2-1 win in Game 3 last Thursday, seven Canadiens—two over the limit—circled the ice in front of referee Kerry Fraser. No call. A nanosecond later, an egregious trip by Montreal's Benoit Brunet of Islander Brad Dalgarno went unheeded by Fraser. Brunet promptly set up the game-winning goal by Guy Carbonneau.
This year's playoffs have produced an unprecedented 28 overtime periods adding up to 279 minutes, during which a grand total of six penalties resulting in power plays have been called. That's one power play every 46 minutes, compared with a regular-season average of one every six minutes.
Nobody wants to see playoff games decided by borderline penalties. But the refs' refusal to punish even brazen infractions can be explained only by a collective failure of nerve that gives players license to clutch and trip and gouge. Such behavior has tarnished the NHL's otherwise exciting postseason.
Still Charlie Hustle
Pete Rose is going to Cooperstown.
He will sign autographs for money at a memorabilia emporium in the picturesque village on the two days preceding Reggie Jackson's induction into the Baseball Hall of Fame on Aug. 1. Rose, of course, already would be in the shrine himself had he not been banned for life from the game for his gambling activities and unsavory associations.
Rose's publicist, Doug Welsh, told Tim Sullivan of The Cincinnati Enquirer that Rose asked Jackson if he objected to Rose's appearance and that Jackson assured Rose he did not. Welsh also noted that Rose will be out of Cooperstown by the day of the induction. But what else was Jackson going to say? If he had said, "Pete, maybe you shouldn't be there," Jackson might have been accused of trying to curb Rose for his own self-aggrandizement. Somebody should tell Rose that he is showing all greed and no grace—and that such an unseemly public appearance will only hurt his chances of being welcomed back to the game.
The pregame notes that pro team publicists prepare for the press tend to be a bland mix of canned quotes and statistical minutiae, but Richard Griffin, who has been the Montreal Expos' p.r. man since 1973, dishes up far richer fare. Here is a sampling.