Phil Esposito used to keep a journal on every NHL referee and linesman he encountered. The Bruins Hall of Fame center, who made his living scoring goals via bullying opponents in front of the net, wanted to know which official called cross-checking or holding in front of the net more than others.
More importantly, though, he kept detailed notes on how they dropped the puck during faceoffs.
“Every linesman is different,” Esposito told BostonSportsJournal.com during the second intermission of the Bruins Game 3 loss to the Lightning. “I used to keep a book on it. Johnny D’Amico would just smack it down. Matt Pavelich would just snap his wrist.”
Esposito maintained his notes to gain any advantage he could in the faceoff circle. These days, it’s nearly impossible for even the best centers to get ahead, particularly because of the inconsistent and troubling way officials are enforcing even the slightest of faceoff violations.
“Please, why don’t they just drop the (expletive) puck,” said Esposito, who does color commentary for the Lightning. “I don’t understand it. I don’t know what they’re doing. As an ex-centerman, I would be saying, ‘Would you please drop the puck?’ I don’t understand it. I don’t get why guys are getting thrown out. It would piss me off to no (expletive) end.”