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A Few Thoughts on the Stars and Officiating

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Not to bring the room down after an exhilarating come from behind win over the Kings. But the issue of officiating and how the Dallas Stars have dealt with being on the short end of a lot of calls reared it's head once again on Wednesday night.

Glen Gulutzan's addressed the issue a few times in the last few weeks. And for good reason as the Stars are among the most penalized teams in the NHL while also getting awarded power play chances far less often than most of the teams in the NHL. 

To that end, Gulutzan has promised to change the culture to one where the Stars turn the other cheek when it comes to complaining about calls that don't go their way. As tonight's game showed, however, that change will be a hard process to complete. And it certainly won't happen overnight.

After Mike Ribeiro was whistled off for interference on Dustin Brown, he was visibly upset as he headed to the penalty box. Brown, as he is wont to do, seemed to embellish the call and also appeared to get away with a penalty himself earlier in the play when he rode Ribeiro into the bench.

The Stars were able to kill off the ensuing Kings' power play. But Gulutzan was none too pleased with Ribeiro's actions as he sat the Stars winger for two shifts in the middle frame.

Later in the 3rd, Steve Ott, who appeared to get clipped by a Los Angeles high stick earlier in the game, got careless with his own stick in front of the net and clipped a Kings' defenseman. The refs caught it, sent him to the box, but it didn't prevent Ott for rather audibly voicing his disagreement on his way to the box.

And then after the Stars were victimized by a quick whistle that bailed out Jonathan Quick, several Stars threw their arms and sticks into the air in an open display of frustration. Fortunately, a well timed time out calmed them down and they executed Willie Desjardin's set play to tie the game, send it into OT, and then win it on Steve Ott's goal.

Now I know why Gully is trying to do what he's trying to do. There's a saying about complaints falling on deaf ears. And I believe in all sports that the more you complain in general about officiating, the deafer the officials become.

To me, it's not so much about the fact the Stars are complaining. It's that from my POV, they appear to be dog cussing the refs on their way to the penalty box. It's human nature to get upset at a blown call that doesn't go your way.

And considering the amount of human influence on how the sport of hockey is officiated, calls will get blown because...well...humans make mistakes. Which begs the question of how do you make your complaint heard without ensuring it won't fall on deaf ears?

To that question, I'll just refer you to Jason Kidd, point guard for the locked out Mavericks and member of what would be the reigning NBA Champions if they get back to playing ball this year.

Bob Ortegal was around the DFW airwaves for a very long time serving quite capably as the color analyst on the Mavs' broadcasts until he was forced out last season. One comment of his that has always struck me is an observation he had about Kidd in his rookie year. What Ortegal noticed is that when a call didn't go the way Kidd thought it should, he gave the official his two cents on the call in a very civil manner, and then he let the call go.

That's what the Stars as a team have to shoot for in dealing with the refs. Keep your complaints on the ice to a minimum. But if you must complain, do so in a civil manner.