LOS ANGELES – After accumulating more penalty minutes and giving up more power plays than any team in the NHL, the Blackhawks are asking for help.

Blackhawks general manager Dale Tallon has requested a meeting next week with Steve Walkom, the NHL’s senior vice president and director of officiating, to try to determine why the Hawks are short-handed so often.

“We’re going to have myself, the coaches and players meet with Walkom, and we’re going to go over it and discuss it and get to the bottom of it,” Tallon said. “It has to be fixed. We can’t keep doing it.”

The Hawks are averaging a league-high 22.4 penalty minutes a game and have been short-handed 172 times.

Tallon said all teams can have Walkom explain the new standards referees are using, which has been credited with opening up the game and promoting scoring. But the tighter calls have resulted in many more power plays.

Nowhere is the debate more exhaustive than in Canada. While the Hawks were there, the topic of whether the game is suffering because the calls are either too strict or not strict enough dominated discussions of the sport.

After missing a year because of labor strife and with most fans enjoying more offensive-minded play, the league must wonder whether is it good business for players such as Detroit’s Steve Yzerman to criticize the standards and say, “It’s not hockey.”

“(Players) are just frustrated,” Tallon said. “They’re used to playing a certain way. I’m sure the league is tired of people calling in and asking why, why, why. But overall I think the games are good.”

In the first three outings of this five-game trip, which continues Saturday night against the Kings, the Hawks have been short-handed 24 times, including 20 in the first. Asked yet again by Canadian media about the officiating after Tuesday’s 3-1 loss to Vancouver, Hawks coach Trent Yawney took a diplomatic approach.

“It’s a learning experience for the referees as well,” Yawney said. “It’s easy from the side to be critical of what they’ve done, but we’re not in their shoes. Sometimes we have to take a step back.”

Yawney said meeting with Walkom would be useful for players to hear from the top what they can and can’t do.

“When you are able to ask questions, it makes the picture that much clearer, so there’s no gray area,” Yawney said. “It’s coming from the top, and I think that’s important going forward as a league.”

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.