By: Erin Walsh
The officiating in the NHL this season has been sub-par. The calls have been very inconsistent and hockey fans everywhere are outraged. Are the referees just simply missing calls, or are they not calling things on purpose to try and even up the games? Let’s take a look at some examples where calls have been outrageous.
Chicago Blackhawks vs Colorado Avalanche:
On Sunday, March 19th, 2017, the Chicago Blackhawks took down the Colorado Avalanche 6-3. Midway through the third period the Avs were sitting nicely with a 3-1 lead over the Blackhawks. That’s when Jonathan Toews deflected a shot for his 19th goal of the season. The Avalanche then challenged the play saying that Chicago was offside when they entered the zone. Let’s take a look at the freeze frame:
As we can see from the freeze frame it clearly looks like Chicago Blackhawks forward Jonathan Toews is offside. After further review the referees determined that the play was “inconclusive” and the goal would stand. How is this play inconclusive? You can CLEARLY see that Toews is offside on this play. This brings up the concern of refs in the NHL being inconsistent. Normally this play would be deemed offside and the game would go on, but in this case it was a good goal. The Blackhawks scored 3 goals in 34 seconds to take the lead away from the Avalanche. That offside call was so critical to the game and in my opinion the refs got it wrong. We all know the NHL loves the Chicago Blackhawks, so naturally they’ll do anything so that Chicago wins the game. This brings up the fact that some favoritism could be in play.
Boston Bruins vs Toronto Maple Leafs:
On Monday, March 20th, 2017, the Toronto Maple Leafs took down the Boston Bruins 4-2. A little over midway in the first period, Maple Leafs forward Nikita Soshnikov drilled Boston Bruins forward Patrice Bergeron head first into the boards. Let’s take a look at the play:
This hit on Patrice Bergeron resulted in matching two minute penalties because Bergeron retaliated when the refs didn’t call the hit by Soshnikov. This was a dirty hit from behind and there was no call on the play. This game was a very important game for both teams and the Bruins ended up getting screwed on that call as well as on the call on Dominic Moore with 2:54 remaining in the game. If that hit by Soshnikov was on Pittsburgh’s Sidney Crosby you know that it would’ve been called. So, what is wrong with the refs these days? Do they have it out for certain teams? Do they want certain teams to lose? There’s no straight evidence but many believe that NHL refs have it out for certain teams.
One piece of evidence we do have is that the Calgary Flames have been targeted by NHL referees the whole season because of Dennis Wideman’s hit on a ref last season. The Flames are currently leading the league in penalties. In the last five seasons, the Flames weren’t even in the top 10 penalty leaders. So, this leads us to believe NHL refs have it out for the Flames because of Wideman’s hit on a ref from last season. One example of how the Flames have been targeted is the fact Michael Frolik was tripped and it should have been a penalty on the opposing team, instead it was a diving penalty on Frolik. Let’s also take a look at the fact this was a penalty shot for Edmonton Oilers forward Connor McDavid on a terrible non-call on the Oilers and a terrible call on the Flames:
McDavid was barely touched and yet he got a penalty shot. The amount of penalties the Flames have taken this season just shows that the referees have it out for them.
In conclusion, the NHL referees need to be reprimanded for inconsistent calls and also for targeting teams that they do not like and showing favoritism to the ones they do like. (The targeting/favoritism is just an opinion on what I have seen/heard/read online. Which makes me believe that there is some of that going on in the NHL.)This makes the game extremely unfair and no fun to watch. There is no definite answer as to why they are so inconsistent, they could simply be missing calls, or they could just have it out for certain teams. Whatever the case may be, I think the NHL needs to reevaluate their officials in the offseason. The inconsistency this season is at an all time high and something needs to be done.
Photo: (Amazon) (SB Nation)