In most sports, players rely on officiating for many reasons. Ensuring that the rules are followed is only one of them. In most sports, the officials’ decisions have a direct impact on the outcome of the games or the sport itself. A key part of their roles, regardless of the sport which they are officiating, is keeping fairness so that the results aren’t tainted. We all know the huge debates occurring in boxing or figure skating, where “referees” are called judges as they have to use their judgement to decide of winners… and that’s where things can get messy.
When the NFL’s referees went on strike the last time, fans were screaming at the incompetence and inconsistency of the men in stripes. The NFL knew it and as a the number one league in North America, they took care of business. Unfortunately, the NHL’s referees are just as bad as those replacements officials but unlike the NFL, the league chooses to ignore the issue. Instead, they blame it on the fans for being biased. It’s must easier to put your head in the sand and pretend that there’s no problem than to try fixing it. It’s the lazy way. Who cares, really? Money is coming in, fans are watching anyway! Looking at the lack of results, it sure seems like it’s the approach the league is taking on the matter.
When it’s not phantom calls, it’s the inconsistency or injustice being displayed by the zebras that’s the main issue here. We touched on it after the first game of the season, when the Habs faced the Leafs in Toronto. And here we are again today, just a few games into the 2021 season.
It starts at the top
What’s even more mind boggling is why the General Managers, owners, Board of Governors can’t see the issue and force league Commissioner Gary Bettman to do something about it. Okay, the owners get their money regardless but the GMs have their heads on the log ready to get chopped off if their team doesn’t succeed!
Players, coaches and GM’s can’t say anything at the risk of getting serious fines for… stating the truth and exposing the league’s biggest weakness. There’s only one logical reason why those those officials are so protected: the league is turning a blind eye, wanting to sweep the dust under the rug and forget about it.
Oh I know, they have a “system” in place, with a supervisor watching each official’s performances to determine which ones will work in the playoffs. Either way, they’ll work the season regardless of their performances. If a player doesn’t perform, he gets benched or worse, gets sent to the minors and risks that his contract won’t be renewed. That never happens with officials. Why? There’s an easy reason, or excuse I should say. It’s a lack of quality supply for such a huge demand.
Two referees system
The over-expansion has diluted the talent in the league, and created more games needing to be officiated. And when, in their wisdom, the NHL brought in the two referees system, they screwed it up for everyone. Oh the intention was good, but they didn’t think it through. Two judgements on the ice, promoting incompetence with referees for whom the play is just way above their head.
The league, once again, looks the other way on what is THE single biggest issue for the on-ice product for players, coaches, GM’s and fans alike. It affects the spectacle and the integrity of the sport. Fans get frustrated and mad instead of doing what they used to be able to do: sit down and watch, enjoying a good game.
If Stompin’ Tom Connors was still with us, he would be living up to his nickname and would be stomping at the atrocity of the product the league is putting on the ice making decisions. He would be fuming at the fact that the referees seem to think that fans are paying to watch them run (or ruin) the game. Gone are the days when we could enjoy a Good Ol’ Hockey Game. Go Referees Go… home!