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Proteau's Blog: Walkom a fine line

• On one level, you've got to appreciate NHL director of officiating Stephen Walkom sticking up for his guys in black and white stripes, who've been roasted for wavering standards throughout the post-season by calculating coaches and players.

“I appreciate (the comments), but I'm oblivious to (them),” Walkom told the National Post. “That approach to influencing the game, it's archaic…The coaches stand up for their team and I stand up for my team.”

Trouble is, it's not only those with a vested interest in the outcome who believe the crackdown on obstruction has been dwindling throughout the regular and post-season. I understand officials' learning curve will take a couple more years, but let's not pretend this is a finished process, either.

• Further to today's Gary Bettman-themed Ask Adam column – a little tidbit on U.S. TV ratings (one of many things the NHL commissioner said “could be better”) from the Minneapolis Star-Tribune:

“Locally, (Minnesota's TV ratings were) a good news-bad news situation for the NHL. Game 1 had a 1.5 rating on Versus, placing this market fifth out of the 55 metered in the country, and Game 2 had a 1.6 rating, putting Minneapolis-St. Paul second to Buffalo (4.8). The bad news? Replays of the Twins-White Sox afternoon games on Monday and Wednesday nights on FSN North beat the Stanley Cup both times. On Monday, the Twins replay did a 1.8 rating; on Wednesday, the re-air did twice the rating of the hockey game.”

When replays of games from other sports outdraw yours, the question no longer is whether things “could be better”, but rather, whether they could be worse. And the answer to that is, ‘not much'.

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