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Officiating has players unhappy

By DAMIAN CRISTODERO, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published June 9, 2002

RALEIGH, N.C. -- Referees have earned significant face time during the first two games.

There were 33 penalties, 29 power plays and 42 minutes, 27 seconds of power-play time. That is about 35 percent of all playing time.

That, in and of itself, is not bad, but it does keep teams from getting into a consistent flow. Players are riled by what they say are inconsistent calls and calls late in games.

"I went back on some tape, and there are calls you wouldn't expect," Carolina defenseman Sean Hill said before Game 3. "It would be nice to see some consistency this time of year."

"The guys should settle the game," center Jeff O'Neill said. "I mean, calling a marginal slashing penalty in the neutral zone. I could remember when I was a child where it almost had to be an ambulance-type situation for there to be a penalty called."

Red Wings coach Scotty Bowman said referees Paul Devorski, Don Koharski, Bill McCreary and Stephen Walkom (as a group, thought to be the league's best) are probably "whipped up" emotionally to work the Cup. And with the league cracking down on penalties, "There is big accountability."

Power-play time is pretty even: Wings 22:44, Hurricanes 19:43.

BOWMAN'S FUTURE: Bowman said he has decided if he will retire after the series but did not elaborate.

SEEN IT ALL: Hurricanes equipment manager Skip Cunningham got his job in 1972 when the team joined the World Hockey Association as the Hartford Whalers. That's 2,385 regular-season games.

Cunningham, who grew up in Boston and declined to give his age, said he has missed only nine games, all during the 1989-90 season because of hernia surgery.

He said he is enjoying Carolina's playoff ride as much as the players.

"Without a doubt," he said. "You can just feel the electricity of the arena and the players and everybody. It takes it to a different extreme. You have to cherish the moment."

MODIN HONORED: Lightning left wing Fredrik Modin was named the top pro hockey player in Florida for 2001 at the Florida Sports Awards banquet in Jacksonville. He beat out Panthers goalie Roberto Luongo and forward Pavel Bure.

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