When the National Hockey League expands in the next two years or so, the players that stock the new teams will come from the systems of existing organizations. But where will new officials be found?
"The moment hockey expands, we will be ready," said Bryan Lewis, the NHL director of officiating. "For each two new teams we need one referee and two linesmen. This has to be an ongoing process or we would really get caught."
The league lost veteran referees Bob Myers and Bob Hall to retirement this season and were short another, Don Koharski, who was assigned minor-league duty for missing curfew during the playoffs last season. That is why unfamiliar names such as Paul Devorski, Dave Jackson and Ron Martell may show up in black-and-white stripes some nights. They are products of the NHL's search.
Unlike hockey teams, which rely on an organized system of scouting pulled together by the comprehensive Central Scouting Bureau, the system of scouting officials is less defined. Lewis believes it is just as thorough.
"There isn't a day goes by that we don't hear from some coach at some level of hockey telling us about someone who works a pretty good game," Lewis said. "Our supervisory staff acts as scouts. We have in our file about 300 names and we check them all out. There will be times when I'm assigned to watch an NHL game in Pittsburgh, and then I'll go to Johnstown, Pa., and be in Montreal to watch a midget game the next night."
Officiating hopefuls often hold down full- or part-time jobs or are students, so the NHL often helps with travel expenses so they may gain experience. "We want to advance careers as quickly as possible," Lewis said. "With expansion, the job opportunities will be fantastic. There are never enough good, talented officials, but we do the best we can."
Petty larceny or grand theft?
Depending on the outcome of the Devils' trade of defenseman Tom Kurvers to the Maple Leafs for their first-round draft pick in 1991, General Manager Lou Lamoriello is guilty as charged with robbing the Maple Leafs.
The price of a first-round pick is prize enough, but the top prospect of 1991 is a 16-year-old center out of Toronto, Eric Lindros, who is 6-4 and 210 pounds. Lindros had scouts raving last year that he would be the next big impact player in the NHL. Lindros is playing for the Windsor Spitfires of the Ontario Hockey League.
Kurvers, who reported to the Maple Leafs in Pittsburgh to speak with coach Doug Carpenter, left the team Tuesday and is said to be contemplating retirement. Lamoriello said the deal became complete under NHL bylaws because Kurvers reported.
If the deal holds and if the Maple Leafs continue to flounder in the cellar, the Devils could have landed themselves a franchise player for a talented, although spare part.
The Devils actually ended up trading center Mel Bridgman for the No. 1 pick. On March 9, 1987, the Devils traded Bridgman to Detroit for a third-round pick. On June 13, 1987, the Devils traded the Detroit pick to Buffalo for Kurvers, and this week wheeled him to Toronto for the No. 1. Bridgman for Lindros? A steal.
PRICED TO $ELL GOALIE, slightly used, Vezina Trophy winner, two time All-Star. Best offer over $5 million. Call Peter Pocklington.
Edmonton's trade of Wayne Gretzky last year promoted rumors that the financial empire of Pocklington, the Oilers' owner, was in trouble. Pocklington tried unsuccessfully two seasons ago to sell public stock in the Oilers, and the collapse of his meat-packing business last month may prompt him to auction off another of his star players, Grant Fuhr. If Pocklington holds a garage sale, expect Red Wings owner Mike Ilitch to be an early-bird shopper.
Fuhr is recuperating from an appendectomy and is not expected to play until next month.
The upcoming Super Series tour of Soviet hockey teams was in danger of playing in every NHL rink but one: Maple Leaf Gardens. Toronto owner Harold Ballard's anti-Soviet stance prompted a look for an alternative site, Hamilton's Copps Coliseum, for the Dec. 31 game against Dynamo Moscow.
Devils defenseman Craig Wolanin is on a self-improvement kick, learning a new word every day. Three this week were , and . Wolanin's latest were and two words that might be used in a sentence to describe the start of Wolanin's season. The former No.1 draft pick has appeared in only one of the Devils' six games.
"That's precisely why I picked those two words," Wolanin said. "I'm not to the point where I'm complaining, because our defense has been playing very well. I don't think there's any sense in me taking a bitter attitude. I just want to play."