In two games, today, in the NHL, the refereeing system broke down.
In one game between the Tampa Bay Lightning and the Winnipeg Jets, Anton Stralman threw a questionable hit to the head on Jets semi-star Bryan Little.
After the hit, Paul Maurice was furious at the fact that a two minute minor penalty was the only call assessed on Stralman. So furious that a staring match ensued at the end of the period. This culminated in Maurice stepping out onto the bench to land a swear-laden tirade at the refs, a tirade that cost Maurice the third period. He was dismissed from the game by the referee, who later smirked at the utilization of his well, unique, powers.
Incident number two – the St. Louis Blues take on the Los Angeles Kings. For this kind of game between two rough and tumble teams, with a rivalry no less, you would expect that the referees would swallow the whistles and let the men compete. Instead Francis Charron calls a series of phantom calls in the first period, and then misses egregious penalties and subsequently calls phantom calls to make up for it.
You couldn’t help but feel that the referee was, if not determining the winner, certainly determining the course of the game.
As for the game between the Jets and the Lightning, the absence of Maurice seemed not to deter their 4-goal comeback to tie the game. Certainly this shows that the refs’ influence on the game, when negative, is not just about handicapping one team or another. The actions of the referee simply change the complexion of the game entirely.
Referees should be in the game to call the most egregious penalties and ensure the safety of the players, not necessarily in that order. They should not change a game. Tonight, the referees in the games at St. Louis and Tampa Bay respectively confused the players with respect to what would be penalized and what would not, and failed to protect players in the course of the game by enforcing the NHL’s policy against collisions to the head.
If you want to follow the referees night over night, please check this link below which gives a detailed summary of what games the referees are playing in and how they rank in terms of penalties called.