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When the ‘best officials in the world’ look the other way

While duly noting that the NHL's standards for suspendable offenses and standards of officiating are two very different things...

So nine of the 26 suspensions handed by the NHL’s Department of Player Safety were for violations that were not contemporaneously called as penalties. I suppose you could argue this means the review system works, but when (just over) one-third of suspensions are on infractions missed by the referees (and by the linesmen), then there’s something amiss with NHL officiating.

Dustin Byfuglien’s cross-check to J.T. Miller’s neck was impossible to miss, yet Dan O’Rourke, no more than 10 feet away from the play at which he sure seemed to be looking directly, somehow missed it. Either that, which is pretty bad, or he didn’t think the Winnipeg defenseman merited a penalty, which is a whole lot worse.

And yet, there was O’Rourke working two nights later in St. Louis as scheduled. Maybe the egregious error will cost the referee a playoff assignment, maybe there will be consequences for this one, but, again, when one-third of suspendable acts are missed on the ice while the delinquent parties simply move on, the issue needs to be addressed by the NHL in a public setting.

The New York Post's Larry Brooks comes upon a truth those of us who watch hockey and love it are very frustrated with and about:

You have to start with the supposition NHL officials are the best in the world at what they do. But something is lost in the translation of how games have been called this season. Tolerance for interference and the clutch-and-grab has reverted to the pre-Shanahan Summit days that preceded the 2004-05 canceled season.

Clearly, this is by design. It is not as if all of the league’s referees have at once independently adopted new guidelines for identifying infractions. Mandates are coming from somewhere, though there’s no logical explanation for any of this. Less space, fewer power plays, less scoring and less entertainment.

Brooks continues, and the truth of the matter is that we've become paying customers of an NHL that's undergoing the Dead Puck Era 2.0, a period of clutching, grabbing, groping, tackling, wrestling, leg-humping, stick-grabbing-and-sitting-on and all sorts of strange, football-or-rugby-on-ice stuff that used to be penalized when appropriate. Not anymore.

Filed in: | KK Hockey | Permalink
  Tags: dan+o'rourke, department+of+player+safety, dustin+byfuglien, j.t.+miller

Comments

Hootinani's avatar

There is no question where it comes from or why it’s happening.  Bettman uses his officials to keep games close and keep the standings as close as possible so he can point at them and say “parity”.  The point system, the varying quality of officiating, everything about the league is designed for that purpose.

Posted by Hootinani on 04/05/15 at 08:49 AM ET

stonehands-78's avatar

after last night’s Wings game and I had put away my tin foil hat until later today,
I was rehashing the calls against Detroit and just couldn’t get over how many seemed ...

inconsistent (?)

from other non-called plays during the game.

... but it’s prolly just me, huh?

Posted by stonehands-78 from the beginning ... a WingsFan, on 04/05/15 at 09:51 AM ET

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Paul Kukla founded Kukla’s Korner in 2005 and the site has since become the must-read site on the ‘net for all the latest happenings around the NHL.

From breaking news to in-depth stories around the league, KK Hockey is updated with fresh stories all day long and will bring you the latest news as quickly as possible.

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