NHL officials lose plot as missed penalties pile up – .

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NHL officials lose plot as missed penalties pile up – .


Referee Chris Lee is perfectly positioned, watching the game unfold as Nick Suzuki rises from the ice beside the Vegas goal. Brayden McNabb stands there, waiting for a penalty for no other reason than he feels free to do whatever he wants to the Canadiens’ smallest player.

McNabb hits Suzuki with a half-hearted cross-check, as Lee spins in the frame. The 20-year-old NHL referee speaks directly to the players, likely informing them that the puck is long gone. Reminding them not to climb.

Suzuki pushes back Vegas’ biggest defender, showing he’s not afraid. It’s just a push – no penalty here.

Lee is now five feet away, motionless, staring. Nothing hinders his vision of the exchange.

Then McNabb degenerates. He hits Suzuki in the face with a gloved hand. Lee has the perfect angle and 10 seconds of game history.

Folks, this is a penalty for all of my 30+ years covering the National Hockey League.

We’re not talking about the missed high-stick on Corey Perry, a blatant missed call but that happens in an instant. A game where maybe a referee had a visual impairment at the last second, or thought the puck had done damage.

It is a conscious decision on a game that takes place as slowly as any game of hockey could take place. A scenario that’s cemented in an official’s head: I warned the players (we’re guessing), they traded legal blows, and one guy goes too far.

In the mind of a referee, it’s a manual: “I warned you not to climb, you did it anyway, and you left me with no choice but to call a brutal minor. ”

No one in hockey blames a referee for making that decision. We all blame McNabb for his lack of discipline.

But today, in the NHL semi-final series, Lee is not making that call.

Neither he nor his zebra compatriot Dan O’Rourke called for a penalty on a Joel Edmundson counter-failure who drove William Carrier’s face into the goal strip in the first period. This borders on a major penalty all year round, but in the most important games of the year, either the referee approves the play or he chokes on the call.

Then Tomas Nosek blatantly hits Shea Weber from behind a period later. A stone’s throw from the boards, a dangerous, potentially damaging exit. Lee is perfectly positioned, just standing there, declaring it’s legal.

That is absolutely the definition of hitting from behind and has been since the game was deemed worthy of a major penalty in 1991. Thirty years ago.

There’s not a millimeter of wiggle room here, but because Lee freezes on Nosek, he couldn’t call one of the vicious overlaps Weber crashes into Nosek’s back as they pull themselves together. head for the ice. Or the punch to the back of Nosek’s head.

In the end, Lee coincidentally calls miners. He managed to call penalties without affecting play in any way, perhaps his goal from the start, although he by no means kept a standard or protected the next player with another shot. from behind.

Dear friends, we have lost the intrigue on the refereeing of the National Hockey League.

When the best umpires in the league do as they did this spring, there is a problem.

When Connor McDavid can play eight playoff games over two seasons, without taking a single penalty – despite being sixth in the regular season in that period of penalties taken – there is a problem.

While only three of the league’s top 25 salaried players still play in the semi-finals – and two of them are goaltenders – we have a problem.

We asked players on Monday what they thought of the standard, and still, they didn’t mean much. Some fear retaliation from officials, others just don’t like the appearance of focusing on things that are beyond their control.

“It’s different from the regular season in the playoffs. The referees let go a little more, ”offered Jonathan Marchessault of Vegas. “I thought Will Carrier got run over in the first half around here, and he’s not a little guy. ”

But he quickly returned to the clichés of hockey. The kind of ‘fighting’ mindset that took the playoff game away from the most skilled players and handed it over to the six-foot-four defenders who wield sticks like police batons when playing. riot.

“It’s the adversity that teams face in the playoffs. Good teams will find a way out, ”Marchessault said of refereeing, when things go badly. “You just have to fight through it. Find a way. ”

The referees of the National Hockey League are not corrupt. They are not biased against your team.

Are they having horrible times this spring? Yes they are, but we would go much further than that.

What I can’t fathom is how a game that has been a penalty for my 30+ years covering this league is no longer a penalty. How can we understand that this is a batting game when gashes in the hands are called, but hits from behind and punches to the head go from a regular season to illegal? to a legal elimination?

“What is the standard? I have no idea, ”Kevin Bieksa said on Sunday’s Sportsnet.

On the other network, Pierre McGuire pointedly said exactly the same thing.

I have covered the league since the mid-80s.

Don’t ask me again what a penalty is.

Like Chris Lee and Dan O’Rourke, I have no idea.

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