Well there's an explosive question!!!!
I will do my best to answer logistics questions and thought process, I will stay away from individual game officiating discussion. I will say at the onset, its a very difficult game to officiate, fast, rough, with sticks up near heads (as opposed to hockey where the sticks are supposed to be near the ice), crease violations where you have to watch the feet, the ball, the goal line, and oh, by the way, you have to make sure that no one else is in the crease as well. Not an easy game to officiate.
That would be a good transition into why there are two out there and not three, great question, and has garnered much debate in recent meetings with our Board of Governors.
Back in the 90s, the League had three officials, keep in mind, all the games back then were in the northeast, where there was an abundance of field officials, they could drive to most games, the rulebook was a pamphlet then, and their main job was to make sure the carnage didn't spill over into the crowd!!! Some of the challenge back then had three officials that didn't really know the box/indoor game and none of them had clearly defined roles, you saw a lot of officials looking at each other that thought the call that should be made should have been made by someone else.
The Competition Committee early in the 2000s completely reworked the rulebook, and the officiating system, a seasoned lacrosse veteran was brought in to over see the entire process/system for the League. What was done at that point, because we had expanded all over North America by then, was to try and develop officials in regions by putting them on the floor as a Technical Official with two strong referees one a Crew Chief and one an Assistant Referee. The Tech official was responsible only for very specific calls, Too Many Men (Illegal Substitutions), faceoffs, and a few other minor technical issues. This was designed to be an on field, on the job, training ground to develop more officials across the League. What was also implemented at the time was a very stringent evaluation process and accountability program.
That accountability program is in place today, officials are evaluated on a very strict basis. The challenge becomes once you go through these guys and reprimand and fire all of them because they are all terrible (sarcasm!!!), what are you left with? If you continue to remove the "bad" ones, where do you go for new ones? The cupboard, as they say, is bare. So who wants to work for an organization where you can't ever win, your boss is constantly scolding you and the fans are constantly ripping you, I couldn't do it, could you??????? Training and recruitment become the main focus, much of that happens and is ongoing but is by far a perfect process.
Following the 2009 season, the agreement with the Officials Association (Union) expired. It was a challenging time for the League as the impact of the recession had crippled the financial stability of many people including our consumers and our owners. We needed to make changes to remain solvent and stay alive, it was a Nuclear Winter for the NLL and surviving at that point was paramount and cuts had to be made to the budget. Referee costs had spiraled out of control, travel, expenses, immigration, flights, etc. were crippling. The decision was made at the time to cut costs, the Tech official had a limited role and while learning on the job had the propensity to change the outcome of a game because of their lack of experience with the indoor game, those officials became the logic focal point for cost savings. Training also became a casualty of this time. Not ideal, but a reality of the times nonetheless.
In the ensuing negotiations with the Officials Association (NLLOA), there was significant labor strife with their leadership, ultimately it was resolved but at the cost of several (almost half) the officials walking away from the game. The officials that walked away were mainly American officials that had been around for a long time, frankly, most of them weren't very good anyway. What happened then was it left a massive gap in the coverage of games, the NLL staff had to move quickly to fill those gaps, training was difficult and recruitment was a challenge. Now your entire staff was mostly Canadian so immigration costs skyrocketed to meet the demand, but the two man system was put in place.
As a reference, the two man system is a mainstay in Canadian lacrosse, the system was modeled on those box leagues. Coverage was considered adequate.
As time has progressed, the disciplinary process has yielded changes, officials have been removed permanently and new blood is being infused. As I said early on, its a tough job, its not for everyone, recruitment of good quality, well trained officials is a significant challenge.
There has been an overload of discussion about adding a third official back in to the game. It sounds like a great idea, I am supportive of the concept, the game is much faster than it has been in the past and two officials miss coverage. The challenge becomes, where do the "good" officials come from?? How fast can you train them to be good? How do they gain the experience necessary to be acceptable NLL officials? We play different rules than Canadian game, this is where the officials come from, so they experience all summer one set of rules and then come to us in the winter and we play a different game that is much faster.
Last season we made a step towards a three official system in the playoffs. Easier in the playoffs because there are fewer games and the top officials can do the games. The regular season still poses a challenge that is being explored.
You make great points, and for the most part we (the Board) agree. There is however, no scientific way to measure success on this. It sometimes becomes a false negative, adding a third official might create more calls, slowing the game down and turning it into a special teams fest, and I am sure most of us don't want that. Put an official out there and he feels its his job to call something to earn his money!!! The bottom line is finding and training quality officiating crews with the limited resources that the NLL has, is not easy, its not impossible, but not easy. I know the League office staff works extremely diligently to review game tape and focus on getting it right. It is still a human game officiated by humans. We all make mistakes players, coaches, GMs aren't perfect, (the more I read on hear the more I am aware of just how unperfect I am) we can't expect officials to be as well.
That being said, I hear ya, we are efforting the process, it is a topic of discussion and we spend a significant time on it. I wish I had a better answer but at least you understand some of the circumstances. Hope that helps.