Controversy continues to be a challenge for video review


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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 16/05/2019 (1357 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Say What?! is an email conversation between sports editor Steve Lyons and retired sports columnist Paul Wiecek. Look for us regularly but intermittently on the Free Press website.


Steve Lyons: Heya, how’s it going? I hear you have now migrated to the cottage for the summer — waiting for it to arrive no doubt.

I think we once had a chat in this space about video replay. I said it then and I will say it again — I have never been a fan and never will be.

Many of course are calling for more video replay rules this morning after the controversial OT goal by Erik Karlsson on Wednesday night gave the Sharks a 5-4 win over the Blues. All replays show Timo Meier cuffed the puck to teammate Gustav Nyquist, who passed it to Karlsson for the winner. All four on-ice officials missed the hand pass — I say c’est la vie.

I’m so sick of coach’s challenges; calls to the command centre; etc etc in all the major sports these days. The worst being busy-body viewers calling in because a golfer inadvertently places their ball a smidge differently after marking it on the green.

I dunno, maybe we should get rid of all officials and just monitor the game from some command centre with cameras catching everything from all angles.

I guess we wouldn’t have the Hand of God goal by Diego Maradona in the 1986 World Cup or the infamous Brett Hull OT goal in Game 6 of the 1999 Stanley Cup Final that gave the Stars the title over the Sabres.

The argument is always that the annoyances of video replay are worth if it means getting the call right. Seems to me there’s been more controversy over the nuances of video replay than there ever was over the lack of it.

I always liked the motto — it all evens out in the end.

Paul Wiecek: My problem isn’t so much with the concept of video review — which is here to stay no matter what we think — so much as the unnecessary time it takes to make a lot of these video reviews.

How many times have you seen a definitive replay in the first 30 seconds after a controversial call and then you still had to sit around for another five minutes waiting until the officials finally made a call? That’s the most maddening part — and the most easily fixable.

In my world, the video review guys would have 60 seconds from the time of a challenge to make a ruling; if it takes any longer than that, then the video isn’t definitive and the call on the ice or field would stand.

Simple. And it would add hours to our lives.

The other easy fix — and it sounds a little like what you suggest — is to make the video guys a full partner in the officiating. Instead of just calling upon them in times of controversy, I’d wire the video review people in with the other referees and they’d all officiate the game together.

Having an eye in the sky that was an active partner in officiating would eliminate a lot of the challenges in the first place because the video guys would be able to tell the officials in real time what they’d seen.

Steve Lyons: Would we even need officials on the field or ice then? But, that does sound like a better solution than what we currently endure.

The Sharks sure have been the beneficiaries of some odd calls this spring.

I don’t much care who wins or loses in these things, but I was starting to think a Bruins-Blues final would be cool. Reminds me of my first real and lasting Cup memory — Bobby Orr’s iconic goal 40 seconds into OT of Game 4 that beat the Blues and gave Boston the title.

For whatever reason, I was a huge Bruins fan as a kid and teenager. My first favorite player was a guy named Ken Hodge, who played on a line with Phil Esposito and Wayne Cashman. It’s weird how you glom on to a team as a kid. Later on in life I got to meet Gerry Cheevers in a restaurant outside Boston — that old mask of his with the stitches all over it was so cool.

I don’t recall who you cheered for as a kid. I know you had Jets season tickets for a long time.


Gerry Cheevers' goalie mask, with the "stitches" he added whenever a puck hit his mask. (Patrick Doyle / Canadian Press files)


Paul Wiecek: That Cheevers mask was, is and always will be the greatest goaltender mask of all time.

I was a Habs fan as a kid. I played goalie, badly, for the Luxton Falcons for a few years and Ken Dryden on Saturday nights was my hero.

And then I became a Jets fan because my sister’s old boyfriend had season tickets in the WHA days that were at ice level right next to the visitors bench. There was no glass between the players bench and the fans in those days and between periods I could lean over and swipe a puck or some tape.

I also learned to swear like a champion at those games, a skill I retain to this day.

Eventually, once the NHL showed up in town, the visitors bench got moved over to the same side of the ice as the Jets bench and those season tickets were then directly at ice level next to the visitors penalty box, which also made for some fun nights and lively interactions.

The most I ever paid for one of those ice level seats was $37.50, which seemed about right back then. I did the math: Blake Wheeler will earn that every second of every regular season game next season.

That’s an obscenity.

Steve Lyons: Needless to say, I hated the Habs and in particular Dryden for his playoff debut in 1971 when he helped the Canadiens upset in the Bruins in the opening round. Boston was 57-14-7 that season and had 10 20-goal scorers. Hodge had 43 that year by the way.

Almost forgot to mention the Derby when we were chatting about video replay. What did you make of Maximum Security being DQ’d? I see the owners have filed a federal lawsuit, seeking to overturn the stewards decision.

This may sound contradictory, but I do agree with video replay in horse racing. There are no on-track officials and there is a long-standing tradition of the race being monitored by the stewards. Watching the race live, you could see the horses having to check in the far turn and it appeared the rider clearly left his path and came across on the other horses. I know the conditions were less than ideal, but that looked like a clear infraction to me and no matter the stakes should have been DQ’d.

Country House was only a length behind at the wire and having to check like that could easily make that kind of difference.

Dumbest post-race comment on the DQ comes from the U.S. president who says ‘It was a rough & tumble race on a wet and sloppy track, actually, a beautiful thing to watch. Only in these days of political correctness could such an overturn occur. The best horse did NOT win the Kentucky Derby – not even close!’

Say What?!



Paul Wiecek: Only Trump, the most polarizing of presidents, would attempt to turn the Derby into yet another wedge issue in the culture wars.

This has been a brutal year for horse racing. Two dozen horses died on the track during the Santa Anita meet, fueling calls yet again for the sport to be banned. And then the one time the sport usually still shines and still generates some general interest — the Kentucky Derby — turned into yet another tire fire.

And yet for all the criticism the Churchill Downs stewards took for disqualifying Maximum Security, I’d argue they made exactly the kind of decision stewards everywhere need to be making if the sport — and its horses — are going to survive.

Luis Saez, the rider on Maximum Security, clearly lost control of his mount in the turn and clearly created a hazard for all the other riders around him. It was an unsafe ride of exactly the type that has been killing horses at racetracks for decades — and of exactly the type the racing industry needs to crack down on.

Taking down Maximum Security was a good first step. And giving Saez a 15-day suspension for unsafe riding, which the Kentucky stewards did this week, was a good second step.

Jockey Luis Saez was given a 15-day suspension for unsafe riding. (Morry Gash / Associated Press files)

But one final point: a lot of critics who think racing should be banned because it’s unsafe for horses are also calling these days for racing to ban the whip. That’d be the worst thing racing could do. Your average jockey weighs about 115 pounds; your average thoroughbred weighs close to 1,000 pounds. The whip is often the only thing a jockey has to keep his horse under control and in his lane.

You take away the whip and it will make racing less safe for horses, not more.

Steve Lyons: Bring yourself to the city sometime this summer and we’ll do a night at the Downs. I have a picture of us in the winners circle from the last time we were there.

So, the CFL and players came to a deal on a new CBA. There was some talk of a strike at one point, which I never believed would happen. But, from all accounts it looks like the two sides came to a decent accord. Most notable to me is the significant bump in the minimum salary — from $54,000 to $65,000. Both small amounts in comparison to most sports salaries these days, but closer to a decent wage for the low men on the totem pole.

Paul Wiecek: Yeah, that increase to the league minimum is going to come at the expense of veteran players, however. With the salary cap rising just $50,000 per year, all that’s really changed is that the highest earners are going to earn a little less in order for the lowest earners to earn a little more.

To be honest, the CFL players should be grateful they got anything out of these negotiations. The cold hard facts are that the CFL is the second highest paying professional football league in the world and anyone who could play in the highest paying league — the NFL — already is. There’s nowhere else these CFL players could play that would pay them more than they already earn in Canada. As far as I’m concerned, they’re lucky the league even negotiates with them instead of simply dictating the terms to them.

Where else would they play? The World League? The USFL? The XFL? The AAF? People have been trying to create a second tier of pro football for decades and the only one that has stuck is the CFL.

But even at that, the CFL is a shoestring operation. The franchises in both Toronto and Vancouver are money-losers and it sounds like the Wettenhall’s can’t even give away the Montreal Alouettes at this point. That’s the three largest markets in the league, all drowning in a sea of red ink.

The players should consider themselves fortunate they got even a tiny raise out of this deal.

Steve Lyons: I think I’m ok with Bo-Levi Mitchell or Mike Reilly making $10,000 less each year so some guy banging heads on every special teams play can make a little more.

It didn’t look like the players were trying to gouge the CFL and I’m pretty sure they’re aware of the league’s finances. Hence, the deal was made with very little fuss.

All anyone cares about in these parts now is whether or not this year’s edition of the Bombers has a chance at breaking the almost three-decades long Grey Cup drought.

Paul Wiecek: The players — and their leadership — sure were talking tough. But yeah, in the end the CFLPA showed itself to be what it’s always been — the most toothless trade union in North America.

I’m on the record in these parts that the Bombers will never win a Grey Cup as long as Mike O’Shea — a man who cannot admit his mistakes, much less learn from them — is the head coach. I see no reason to change that assessment now.

O’Shea has had five full seasons as the Bombers head coach — and he has one playoff victory to show for it. Name me another sports organization — anywhere in any sport — that would reward a head coach with that kind of track record a sixth season.


PHIL HOSSACK / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS Winnipeg Blue Bombers head coach Mike O'Shea on the CBA negotiations: "It's not anything I worried about."


Steve Lyons: Well, he did get it in this fifth season — so, he’s got that going for him.

You and I have differed on the more recent plight of the Bombers. I’m not yet sold that O’Shea is a great coach, but I’m also not convinced he’s a bad coach. My criticism has been, and continues to be, directed toward the team’s general manager.

Kyle Walters has tried to buy a winner over and over in free agency — the team rarely seems to develop its own quality import talent — and that grand plan has made the team competitive over during his tenure, but I have serious doubts it will ever produce a Cup champion.

So answer me this — if Wade Miller ever does decide to make a change, does one go or do both go?


Steve's criticism is directed toward Kyle Walters. (Sasha Sefter / Free Press files)


Paul Wiecek: I’m not saying Kyle Walters hasn’t made mistakes, but you will never convince me he hasn’t given O’Shea enough talent to win it all.

Was it Walters’ fault O’Shea opted for a doomed 61-yard field goal in the dying seconds of the 2016 West semifinal? Was it Walters’ fault O’Shea decided to fake a punt — in his own end, with his team leading — in the second half of the 2017 West semifinal, leading to the game-winning touchdown for Edmonton?

And was it Walters fault that the most talented Bombers team we’ve seen in ages lost five of their last 10 regular season games last season, including four in a row, to limp into the playoffs in third place, forcing them to spend the playoffs on the road and travel to the meat grinder that is Calgary for a doomed West Final?

All of that is on O’Shea, not Walters.

Walters job when he took over from Joe Mack in 2013 was to rebuild the team and he’s done that. He’s upgraded the Canadian content to the point it’s the envy of the entire league. He made the deals that brought the likes of game-changers like Justin Medlock and Andrew Harris to town. He finally found the Bombers a bonafide starting quarterback in Matt Nichols, which also came via a steal of a trade by Walters. And he’s given O’Shea all kinds of talent on offense, defence and special teams to work with.

This team’s continued failure to end a 29-year Grey Cup drought begin and end with the guy in the shorts.

Steve Lyons: It’s the shorts isn’t it? haha

Gotta wrap this up right away. Real work to do.

I’m headed to the mountains for a couple of weeks at the beginning of June. Stretch the Bimmer’s legs. Let’s do this again when I’m back — hockey season will be over by then right?

The kid in me wants to say the Bruins; the skeptic in me is still not sold on the Blues; and the hockey fan in me kind of hopes the Sharks win — they’ve been a solid franchise for many years now and a Cup celebration seems almost deserved in the Bay Area.

Enjoy the fishing out there.

Paul Wiecek: Evander Kane wearing a track suit and a Stanley Cup ring.

When will the suffering of the Winnipeg sports fan finally end?


The thought of Evander Kane owning a Stanley Cup ring would not go over well with some Jets fans. (Jeff Chiu / Associated Press files)

Paul Wiecek

Paul Wiecek
Reporter (retired)

Paul Wiecek was born and raised in Winnipeg’s North End and delivered the Free Press -- 53 papers, Machray Avenue, between Main and Salter Streets -- long before he was first hired as a Free Press reporter in 1989.

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