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Associated Press
Pittsburgh center Sidney Crosby is helped by referee Ian Walsh after being hit in the face with a puck during the first period of a March game.

Twice (the referees) as nice?

Am I the only one who isn't totally in love with the two-referee system?

While I know it's the wave of the future -- the ECHL even used it in the playoffs -- and it seems to be a better method on paper, I'm not so sure I'm ecstatic about it.

Why? I'm glad you asked.

It's a simple matter of the two referees not always calling the same game. I see it at all levels.

Take Game 3 of the NHL's Western Conference semifinals between the Detroit Red Wings and Chicago Blackhawks as an example.

First period, a Blackhawks player is down on the ice behind the play, but the Red Wings are getting a scoring chance at the other end, and one referee blows the play dead before it happens. Later in the game, the inverse happens. A Detroit player is down at one end, but the Blackhawks are afforded the opportunity to score -- and do -- as the other referee lets it go.

Actually, that's not even the best example. It's often clear that one referee is letting a certain amount of slashing or holding go, while the other is not.

As a referee -- albeit at a much, much lower level -- I have experienced the frustration myself. I call two-referee games all the time (by two, we are referees and linesmen) and I'll often let something go, only to see my partner call it, or vice-versa.

Of course, it's not supposed to be this way. A penalty is supposed to be a penalty, regardless of the eyes, and you're supposed to be a cohesive unit. But it's human nature and I'm not always sure that the extra set of eyes for penalties behind the play is better than the lack of consistency.

Oh, and one more thing.

NHL, you have got to put the officials' names back on their uniforms. I long for the days when you knew who was calling the games and knew who/what you were getting going into the games. (Ask any Red Wings fan about Kerry Fraser in the 1980s.)

There's less accountability to the fans, and I suspect the players, without the names.

Justin A. Cohn, pro sports coordinator for The Journal Gazette, has been covering the Fort Wayne Komets since 1997. His reporting includes game stories from home and away, features about the players and personalities associated with the Komets, plus coverage of issues affecting hockey at all levels. A native of Bloomfield Hills, Mich., Cohn graduated from Emory University in Atlanta. He can be reached at 260-461-8429 or by email at jcohn@jg.net.

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