Replacement NHL officials hit the ice and earned their money. They also earned some praise.
"I thought they did a good job," Edmonton's Shayne Corson said after Monday night's 5-5 tie at Toronto. "They were put in a tough situation."The Oilers-Maple Leafs game was one of three officiated by replacement officials following the walkout of the regular officials earlier in the day.
The substitutes got fairly high marks, too.
"In the heat of the moment you always get yapping (at the referee)," Montreal forward Kirk Muller said following the Canadiens' 4-2 victory at Ottawa. "But all-in-all I thought he did a good job."
In Calgary, they played without incident in the Flames' 7-2 victory over Winnipeg - except for the fights, of course.
Luc Lachapelle of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League was the referee at Toronto. The 15,000-plus fans at Maple Leaf Gardens were indifferent when the 39-year-old Montreal prison guard took the ice for his pregame skate.
"I was very nervous and very anxious," Lapachelle said. "It was tough to concentrate. But it's not the same as soon as the game starts. It was faster and I had an adjustment to make."
Toronto coach Pat Burns thought Lapachelle "did a good job. The outcome of the game was not affected by the refereeing."
That was also the case at the Civic Centre in Ottawa. There was a mix of cheers and boos as the officials skated onto the ice to start the game, but they quickly blended into the action.
At Calgary, the players got a little feisty at one point but the game was for the most part without incident under replacement referee George McCorry. In the second period, linesmen Roger Castle and Bob Porter were escorting two players to the penalty box when two fights broke out: Winnipeg's Tie Domi versus Calgary's Sandy McCarthy, and Winnipeg's Stephane Quintal against Calgary's Paul Kruse.
The officials quickly restored order.
This is the first full strike by officials in NHL history. Contract talks broke off Sunday. About 70 replacement officials from minor, pro and junior leagues have been hired to handle the work usually done by the 58 members of the NHL Officials Association.
The issue in the strike is money. The two sides differ by about $1.5 million a year - about $59,000 per club. Don Meehan, the agent for the officials, hoped to close the gap in talks later this week. He said he expected to meet with NHL commissioner Gary Bettman again, although "no agenda has been set."
The regular referees and linesmen have been without a contract since Aug. 31. They want a 60 percent raise in the first year of the contract, while the league is offering 29 percent. First-year referees earn $50,000 and first-year linesmen $33,000.
The new referees are being paid $800 a game, the linesmen $500.
Oilers 5, Maple Leafs 5
Shayne Corson scored three goals for Edmonton and Wendel Clark had two for Toronto.
Canadiens 4, Senators 2
Eric Desjardins scored on a power play midway through the third period, helping the Canadiens end a three-game losing streak.
Flames 7, Jets 2
The Flames scored five straight goals in the second period, two of them shorthanded by Gary Roberts and Paul Ranheim.
The win was the Flames' fifth straight and enabled them to maintain No. 1 status in the league's overall standings with 30 points, two more than Toronto.