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#1 von linchao , 17.09.2018 07:59

Of the 17 referees on the NFL’s payroll during the 2017 season Cortez Kennedy Jersey , four of them have now left. Does that leave the NFL with a referee problem?

It’s a fair question to ask as the 2018 season approaches. While the departures of Ed Hochuli and Jeff Triplette had been known for months, the bang-bang retirements of Terry McAulay and Gene Steratore in recent days, reportedly to work at NBC and CBS respectively, is jarring. And the moves raise legitimately questions as to whether something has gone haywire with the NFL’s officiating department, whether more referees will leave, and whether the replacements will be good enough.

Six years ago, the Commissioner stridently boasted that replacement officials would perform as well as the locked-out black-and-white-stripers who wanted more green than the NFL would give them. Reality proved the Commissioner quite wrong, culminating in the embarrassment that was the Fail Mary.

Three days after the Seahawks beat the Packers thanks to a blatant case of offensive pass interference on the game’s last play, the “A” team was back Justin Tucker Jersey , led by the swagger of Steratore, who’s Thursday night strut for a Browns-Ravens game let everyone know that, indeed, there’s a palpable difference between the best officials in football and those who aren’t.

With Steratore now gone (along with McAulay, Hoculi, and Triplette), the NFL will be facing a real test. And the stakes are higher than ever, since there will be actual, legal stakes on the games.

And it could have been worse. Kevin Seifert of ESPN.com reported that Clete Blakeman also auditioned for the NBC gig that went to McAulay. If ESPN hadn’t hired Triplette (who already had retired Montee Ball Jersey , and who many fans won’t miss), maybe Blakeman would have gotten one of the three recently-filled network gigs.

And maybe now the report that the NFL nudged ESPN to hire Triplette makes more sense. Maybe it wasn’t about helping Tripllette; maybe it was about helping the NFL not lose yet another referee as a new season approaches.

And maybe the NFL now needs to worry about possibly losing more referees after the coming season concludes.

The youth of the Colorado Avalanche has been a big part of a playoff push but is encountering some speedbumps recently.

A week ago, the Avalanche were in a strong position to make the postseason a year after earning just 48 points, but a sudden stop to the offense has contributed to losing three of four and dropping a point out of the second wild card in the Western Conference with five games left heading into Friday’s home game against the Chicago Blackhawks.

Colorado (41-28-8) has scored four regulation goals in the last four games and snuck a win against Vegas in a shootout last Saturday.

“Everybody goes through spurts where you don’t score as much as you’d like to,” Avalanche right winger Blake Comeau said after Wednesday’s 2-1 loss to the Philadelphia Flyers. “When that happens, you have to buckle down defensively.”

The goal drought has come at an unfortunate time.

Top goaltender Semyon Varlamov, who has played in 21 straight games, missed Wednesday’s game with an illness. His backup, Jonathan Bernier Harry Carson Jersey , is dealing with an infection in his left hand from a cut so Andrew Hammond was recalled from the AHL to start against the Flyers.

He gave up two goals in the first period but settled down to make 31 saves in his Avalanche debut.

The good news for Colorado is Varlamov and Bernier may both be available against Chicago. Varlamov worked on the ice Thursday and Bernier said he is ready to go, although coach Jared Bednar said he won’t decide on a starter until the morning of the game.

The Avalanche will need both in a tough finish to the season. Three of the last five games are against teams it is now chasing for the two wild card spots — Anaheim, Los Angeles and St. Louis. The bad news is the only non-playoff team the Avalanche face is Chicago.

The Blackhawks are coping with an unexpected demise from the No. 1 seed in the 2017 Western Conference playoffs to out of the postseason picture that is leaving fans nostalgic for the good days of three Stanley Cup titles from 2010-15.

So, it is not surprising there was plenty of recognition of defenseman Brent Seabrook playing in his 1,000th career game during Thursday night’s 6-2 win over Winnipeg.

It is a milestone game at the end of a disappointing year that will not include the postseason for the first time in 10 years. Chicago is firmly entrenched in last place in the Central Division, a spot previously occupied by Friday’s opponent, the Colorado Avalanche.

Chicago is infusing young players into the lineup and defenseman Blake Hillman could make his NHL debut soon after signing a two-year deal this week.

In recent years having the Blackhawks on the schedule was a negative, but with major injuries — center Jonathan Toews is out, as is goaltender Corey Crawford — and a look at young players Willie Brown Jersey , Colorado can earn two vital points Friday night.

The Blackhawks (32-36-10) are looking for some hope that this season is an aberration. But with the core of the team aging, chances are this might be the near future Chicago fans can expect.

“I think next year’s team is going to look very similar to this year’s team, not identical,” general manager Stan Bowman said in February. “We’re going to have some changes.”

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