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NHL Officiating Concerns

First of all, let me say that prior to this season I have been on the side of the NHL officiating and referees. That is a tough job and I sure would not want it. It has to be difficult to be skating while keeping your eye on such a fast-paced sport. Plus, you’re in harms way. Kudos to the refs, was my previous opinion.

Now…this season I have seen (as I’m sure other hockey fans have) such stupidity I find it appropriate to buy that blind referee costume for Halloween. Well, I’ll have to wait for next year now. 😦 Anyways, there seems to be no rhyme nor reason to the ref calls.(I’m trying to make light of a situation that is turning the NHL into a laughing stock, in my opinion).

Something needs to be done about the NHL refereeing inconsistencies. How can one play, which involves a purposeful “dirty shot” from behind WITH A REF WATCHING THE PLAY WHILE STANDING THREE FEET AWAY receive a two-minute minor penalty while another play is called “hooking” (which was nothing of the sorts) receives the same penalty minutes? How can two players be in a fight and the non-instigator receive an instigating penalty while the other player receives nothing? It makes no sense. There was a time when fans would be complaining about the officiating at NHL games with the feedback of “oh, it happens”. Well, it has to stop.

Some cases in point:
This just happened last night, so it’s fresh in my mind. A Montreal Canadien player (Laraque) placed his foot directly in front of Nicklas Kronwall’s (Detroit Red Wings) left leg and trips him. The trip just happened to be on the leg that had undergone knee surgeries. Coincidental? I don’t think so. Called a “leg on leg, open-ice collision”, this play was uncalled for. What did Laraque receive? A two-minute tripping penalty. He already had a delayed penalty against him for high sticking a Red Wing (Helm). We don’t know how long Kronwall will be out as of today (early am Sunday 11/22).

There have been goals scored which have blatantly been revealed via replay tape. The goals didn’t count because the ref didn’t see it first hand. So, the ice-side ref doesn’t see the play. How can the goals not be seen by the Toronto “officiating headquarters” team, but be seen by the fan watching the replay on television? Something is definitely wrong there. Or, a goal is scored and the whistle is blew before the play is completed. The goal didn’t count. When that happens…and I have seen it on more than one occasion…what is the restitution? It just doesn’t cut it for a refereeing official to say “we made a mistake and apologize”. Get real. Once or twice is acceptable, but it is becoming increasingly common.

Here is the statement from Mike Murphy, the NHL’s Senior Vice President for Hockey Operations. He was quoted as saying: “It’s not when you hear the whistle blow, it’s when he (the ref) intends to blow the whistle. There is a little bit of a gray area there between when he intends and when the whistle sounds.” YOU THINK?! GREY AREA?! How are we supposed to know the “intention” of a ref? If that’s not the stupidest thing I have heard. (Well, other than the balloon boy story).
Here’s a link for those interested: http://redwings.nhl.com/club/news.htm?id=506758

There have been plays when one line ref will have his hand up with whistle in mouth while the opposing line ref (opposite parallel side of rink) will let it slip by. So, the call is not made. Inconsistent? Yes.

With such rampant stupidity and inconsistency within the NHL refereeing ranks lately, it has me wondering if it really isn’t ruled by the green back (dollar)? Is the NHL losing its impartiality?

1)I say for every miscall, take it out of the ref’s pay. Monetarily penalize the refs. Maybe that’ll get some consistency going.
2)Revamp the NHL officiating rules and regulations. Take out the “gray areas”. Gray areas only lead to confusion and miscallings.

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