There are rules that apply in every sport which define what actions or behaivors are acceptable and which will not be tolerated. The point of these rules are not to hold back play, but to keep play flowing smoothly and, more importantly, fairly to all parties involved. Rules do change, but any changes are intended to improve certain aspects of the game. The rule books of any given sport, professional or amatuer, are, in effect, the constitutions of the sport and the referees and umpires are not meant to be the interpreter of the rules but enforcers of them. Those who converse to think up the rules are the Supreme Court of the officiating, for they are the ones who decide exactly what actions will or will not be tolerated during competetive play.
When an umpire has a close play at the plate to call, what the umpire is aspiring to do is to be an objective observer whom is expected to make judgements and express those judgements for the players to adhere to. When he calls the runner safe at the plate, he is acknowledging that all of the rules that apply were followed when the runner escaped the tag of the defending catcher and touched the plate to score. The referees during football games are acting in the same way; they are, in effect, the police who protect the integrity of the game and serve the participating players and their fans by doing so. What happens when those gaurdians of the integrity of their games default on their obligations?
Hockey is a very fast paced game where one is not only asked to perform using practically every mucle in your body to skate and play while balancing on a mere 1/8th of an inch metal blade but to think at an even faster pace then the skating, as well. When the play is moving as fast as the eye can follow, the eye of the official must be even faster to be able to judge events going at break neck speed. An ice hockey official has probably the hardest job of all officiating in professional sports. They themselves must be atheletic just to keep up with the play. Not to mention the linesmen who have to put themselves in constant harms way when they wrestle to break up a fierce fight. What happens when the men in the monochromatic uniforms willfully decide not to officiate as they were employed to do? Is it really right or is it wrong to just "Let the play?"
Those who are hockey traditionalists want a fast paced and rough game. Allowing or tolerating an ocassional fight in the game is one thing, but allowing obstruction, slashing, roughing, etc., at will is a total different kind of tradition. Those traditionalists squirm in discontent whenever they think a frivolous call causes an arm, striped in black and white with a hunters orange arm brand announcing their authority to all that they can do so. But, is there even such a thing as a frivilous call? In fact, by doing so the ref is acting out of the very purpose of his mission. To make decisions about rule infractions and to enforce the correct rules. If there is any rule against any action, acknowledging and calling the already in placed rule cannot be frivolous. The only thing that may be considered frivolous is the rule itself, which was not written by the on-ice referree, it is just supposed to be enforced by him. It's the rule that should be changed, not the action of the judges of the rule. Besides, what is really meant by those who cheer "Let them play!"
It can only mean one thing in this context. It can only mean "Let the cheat!" Of course, they would never come right out and say it that way (because it would cause them to have to identify and deal with the problem), but under a rational, analytical mind, that is the only thing it can mean. In any other situation, would this code of right and wrong be acceptable? Those who use it usually are on the side of the thugs, i.e., those who resort to physical violence in action, because if they were following the rules what is the need to let them play, they already are, just within the rules. It is only the thugs and rule breakers who benefit from not calling anything. Those who wish to play with honor and by the rules are forced to choose between losing and playing like those who want the rules ignored just to win. Would anyone be allowed to make that cry in any other sport, let alone any other behavior in society? Do we cry it when someone commits a holding or face masking infraction in football? Would that cheer be heard after a hard elbow to the nose in the paint during a basketball contest? Does the bank patrant cry it when the bank robber is holding up a bank? Before you fall off your chair thinking it doesn't apply because it's a meanless game, our games are a simple kind mirror to reflect our sub-conscsious conclusions of what is right or wrong. In other words, it is all ready in the minds of those who hold it, the actions during the games are what brings the conclusion out into reality.
Just like our constitutionally-limited republic, where we have to go to our Congressmen to have a frivolous law changed and not tell the police to just "Let the play." Let's tell the Commissioners of the NHL to change the rules and to have all of those rules enforced every time they are broken, not yell to the refs to let our team get away with anything they can to win. It's the down-side of winning by "whatever it takes." We all should want our teams to win by playing by the rules, not win by referees ignoring the rules intentioanlly to let any team cheat. The glittering prize of winning the Stanley Cup has to stop shattering the honorable notion of integrity within the sport of professional and amatuer hockey.