The Malik Report
by George Malik on 02/22/14 at 08:21 AM ET
As Paul noted, ahead of tomorrow's Gold medal game between Sweden and Canada (7 AM EST, NBC/CBC), the Swedish newspapers chose to stir up a little controversy.
Aftonbladet's Mats Wennerholm finding that former NHL'er and Modo Ornskoldsvik assistant GM Peter Forsberg was more than willing to facetiously describe the referees' assignments for tomorrow's game a "*#$%@& joke."
Sweden's other sports tabloid, Expressen, responded with Carl Juborg asking Don Cherry whether having a Canadian referee would hurt Sweden, and Juborg received a predictable reponse--Cherry stated that he'd bet money on a Canadian referee calling Team Canada (who Cherry believes will prevail, of course) for the game's first penalty to prove their "impartiality."
The Toronto Star's Dave Feschuk took note of the hubbub, listing the referees (Brad Meier, an American, Kelly Sutherland, a Canadian) and linesmen (Greg Devorski and Derek Amell) and asking Sweden's coach and captain whether they're worried about the referees' assignments.
Let's just say that Par Marts and Red Wings defenseman Niklas Kronwall aren't exactly upset:
Swedish coach Par Marts said he is not concerned with the North American officiating, which is assigned by the International Ice Hockey Federation and approved by both teams.
“I don’t care,” said Swedish coach. “I hope they do their job. That’s all I can focus on. I can’t change it. No problem with that.”
Swedish captain Niklas Kronwall, a defenceman for the Detroit Red Wings, said he doesn’t think the nationality of the referees will give Canada an advantage.
“(People) make a bigger deal out of it than it has to be,” Kronwall told reporters. “We’re all used to NHL referees at this level. I think it’s the right decision.”
Feschuk continues and summarizes the Swedish articles' comments in English, and the CBC's Elliotte Friedman also noted the following:
Quickie update: for the record, Swedish defenseman Johnny Oduya told Expressen's Mattias Ek that he feels Forsberg's making an unnecesary to-do about nothing:
"They're the best referees. I think they're professional enough to know what they're doing," says Oduya to SportExpressen.se. "Especially when it's a situation when they might have more eyes upon them. I don't think it'll be a problem. We have those referees over [in the NHL] all the time. They acquit themselves quite well."
Swedish stars Erik Karlsson and Niklas Kronwall say it's positive to have NHL referees.
"The majority of the referees over there are from Canada. They call it farily in Montreal or Toronto, it doesn't matter where they're from," says Karlsson.
"We're used to American and Canadian referees. We know their standards, so I think it's easier for us to have those referees," said Kronwall.
Johnny Oduya will know if there are frustrated reactions from the Swedish Ice Hockey Federation regarding Forsberg's angry gambit.
"I guess you can focus on that kind of thing if you're not playing. If you're around sure you can whine about it. But I think it's a bit strange, too," says Johnny Oduya."It's not what's going to decide [the game] tomorrow."
Update: This is interesting...
The IIHF’s would like to clarify the game official selection process for the 2014 Olympic Winter Games men’s ice hockey tournament.
14 referees and 14 linesmen received the assignment for the Olympic men’s ice hockey tournament in Sochi 2014. Half of them are from the NHL, the other half consist of top IIHF officials.
During the tournament the officials have been evaluated by officiating managers including Konstantin Komissarov (IIHF) and Terry Gregson, former Head of Officiating for the National Hockey League, and six others (four IIHF, three NHL). The process by which the officiating crews are selected for the playoff round is determined by their performance in the preliminary round. For the medal games, the officials chosen were judged to deserve these assignments based on their performance in the playoff round.
“The main factor of the selection of these officials has most of all to do with their experience officiating in high-level competitions,” said Komissarov. “These include Stanley Cup playoffs, World Championship competitions, and Olympic competitions."
“Their nationalities aren’t considered as factors nor should they be, we want the best officials working the medal games,” he added. “We are fully confident that with their experience and professionalism these officials will do their job well and preserve the integrity of the game.”
The decision was confirmed at the IIHF Directorate Meeting on 21 February, with team officials from all four teams present and in complete agreement with the selection.
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