June 07, 2010

Playoff Refereeing

I have been asked a few times this playoff if I can remember any post-season with such poor officiating. The answer is yes - it's like this every post season.

I should correct that. Poor isn't the right word. Controversial and inconsistent and certainly maddening are probably better adjectives. I don't think there has ever been a playoff series or maybe even a single game where one of the teams or certainly one of the team's fans did not feel they were being dealt the greatest injustice this side of O.J. Simpson's not guilty verdict.

Heck, even the very first official hockey game, using the very first written set of rules for the referee to adhere to, was filled with controversy. Here's what the Kingston Whig-Standard had to say about that very first game in Montreal way back in 1875:
"A disgraceful sight took place at Montreal at the Victoria Skating after a game of hockey. Shins and heads were battered, benches smashed, and the lady spectators fled in confusion."

Sounds to me like the ref had a tough game that night. And it has carried through to every hockey game since.

I accept that refereeing will be imperfect, and I don't even really have a problem with that. Whenever someone cries out about the officiating travesties, I always point out that the hockey gods usually ensure that the bounces even out before all is said and done. Just ask O.J.

1 comment:

TS said...

If a player, coach, GM or fan's team wins there are rarely (if ever) any complaints about officiating. Sometimes there's even a grudging, "He/they did a good job." or "He/they let the players decide the game.". Once in a blue moon you hear the ultimate accolade: "He/they called a great game -- you didn't notice them at all!".

From the losing side, however,...

It's just human nature to want to take credit for and/or bask in the good feeling of a win, and to look away from oneself/one's team for reasons for a loss. Great added enjoyment comes from the magic phrase "in spite of the obvious ref bias" as in:

"That was a huge win. They/we overcame incredible adversity to come out on top in spite...".

I love the comments I hear:

"Ya that may not have been a penalty but that guy got away with murder before so what goes around comes around!" (Penalty on the bad guys)

"What!!??!! He calls that! They get away with that blatant (insert "missed" call on bad guys) and call that? Man, the refs are awful this year -- never seen worse!" (Penalty on good guys)

"Oh sure, watch this: he's going to say he blew the whistle in his mind. He just blew the call is what he did. Man, the fix is in. The NHL is desperate for (the bad guy team) to win." (Failure to call a good guy goal in when anybody could see it was)

"I don't believe it! He had that puck covered! They shoved him into the net long after the whistle should have gone. No way that's a good goal. What a ripoff!" (Calling a bad guy goal in when anybody could see it wasn't)

I've played, watched and refereed hockey for a lot of years; and although I haven't heard or read anyone else making this observation this playoff season, it's true for me at least:

I've never seen as many instances of an on-ice official getting in the way of the puck, the players, and/or the play (or all three) as I have this year.

Anyone else notice that at all?