NHL Refereeing Needs a Real Hard Look!

Back by unpopular demand … that piece I blogged a few weeks ago about my concerns about refereeing in the NHL playoffs.  Seems a lot of others are now noticing what I did: Canadian teams get away with almost nothing ..while the refs just don’t seem to see so many of those possible infractions by the U.S. teams!! 

CBC drew attention Thursday to many of the “uncalls” between Montreal and Pittsburgh … and others have also wondered aloud about whether the rules are being equally applied.  Are the refs biased AGAINST Canadian teams?

So after tonight’s Canucks/Chicago game,  … I’m re-posting my piece from April 20…. as I head off on my vacation.   Read it and weep.   

Are NHL Refs Tougher on Canadian Teams?

April 20th, 2010 · 11 Comments

Is it my imagination or are the NHL refs favoring the U.S. teams when they play Canadian teams?

This radical thought crossed my mind last year during the playoffs: it just seemed to me that whenever I watched a Canadian team in the NHL playoffs come up against ANY U.S. contender … the refs were tougher on the Canadian teams when calling penalties. At least it seemed that way.

That feeling has returned to me this year … and I’m not talking about it happening just when I’m watching the team I personally favour… the Canucks. ANY game I watch pitting a team from north of the border against an American competitor in the playoffs, it seems to me the refs FAIL TO SEE  a lot more violations on the part of the U.S. teams.

Now, I have done no scientific frame by frame examination of the games … almost impossible for anyone to actually do; I haven’t even counted up the total number of penalties handed out in all the games to all the teams, because even that doesn’t tell all … the timing of penalties and to whom they are handed out can make a critical difference, to be sure, even if the numbers are fairly equal.

Why am I so suspicous … maybe even paranoid this way?

Because the referees are human beings; they are no doubt well aware that the NHL has been making many concerted special efforts to have hockey succeed in the U.S.  (just ask the people of Quebec City, Hamilton and Winnipeg if they think they are treated equally as potential markets).

And I get the feeling  it would a ratings/advertising  disaster for the NHL and the U.S. networks that carry the games  in the U.S. to have only Canadian teams in the semi-finals or the finals.

Knowledge is power … and I just wonder whether even NHL officials nd referees of the highest professional and personal integrity might be subconsciously aware of  the importance of  having the U.S. teams go as far as possible and are therefore harder on their Canadian-based adversaries?

Watch for yourself.  Am I totally off on this one? Or do you also notice that while Canadian teams get called (quite legitmately!) for most infraction, the U.S. teams get away with more that the refs apparently just don’t see?

And if enough of us notice ..maybe an interepid reporter will ask … not the coaches, who would never say anything about that … but Gary Bettman and other LEAGUE officials …  IS there a double standard????

Or is it just me?

Harv Oberfeld

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8 Responses to NHL Refereeing Needs a Real Hard Look!

  1. Lynn says:

    It is Gary Buttman (sp?). It has to be. I suspect he wants the yank market to flourish.If fans are pissed off with the zebra slant than vote with your feet. Or our Canadian teams can rise above it, win our cup and keep it. Start our own league. I am sick and tired of our profit making teams propping up money losing teams because G.B. doesn’t know what he is doing with the aid of American team owners.

    (Response: The truth is …the NHL is a BUSINESS …pro hockey is not a game … and I supsect the NHL sees its future and its $$$ in having playoffs televised in the US between US teams …not Canadian teams. h.o)

  2. Lynn says:

    Indeed, Harvey, but keep in mind there are many u.s. markets that are losing a lot of money, and have been for quite some time. Hockey plays third and forth fiddle to other sports that are much dearer to a yankee’s heart. Canadian teams are fairing much better in terms of making money. So, when will Big Gary and the rest of the board of Govenors get that? If Canadian ticket holders stop purchasing? Maybe we are the dummies? Paying too much for a ticket just to watch the Zebras and their biased policing?

  3. Eric G says:

    First they want the best teams to get to the final. Then, they also want the american teams to get there too. So it is pretty clear that the NHL will try everything to accomplish both. Money is involved. American markets are priceless.And Bettman has somekind of a mission of transforming hockey into an american tradition. Even my wife who is from Argentina and doesn`t care about which team wins or not, noticed the double standard. Pathetic!!!

  4. blaffergassted says:

    I once agreed with you, but …

    Go Habs Go
    Go Habs Go
    Go Habs Go

  5. Margaret says:

    Eric G is totally right. Even someone who doesn’t know about hockey picked up on the biased refering. Could the refes be betting on the games?

    (Response: Absolutely unlikely. I just think they know the league sees its big bucks future (which they share) is in the US and US television … so the last thing NHL bigshots would want to see is a Stanley Cup final between Montreal and Vancouver, for example. I have no scientific date…but I have noticed EVERY YEAR how much the US teams seem to get away with penalty-wise, while it sure looks to me like the Canadian teams more often than not get called on penalties much more harshly. h.o)

  6. Dick Baum says:

    I was watching the game between Boston and Tampa Bay on Sunday May 21st. A Boston player checked a Tampa player into the boards near the net. The refrees hand went up and I thought the Boston player was getting a penalty. Instead the refree called the Tampa player for diving. Everyone in the rink and on TV new it was the wrong call. The Tampa player never returned to the game. That particular refree couldn’t find his ass in the dark with both hands.

    (Response: I saw that and was appalled. The “diving” player was clearly seriously injured …a bad call for sure. When I did my original blog on lousy refereeing last year, it seemd to me that the whole aim was to make sure there were not two Canadian trams in the finals …a disaster for NHL US ratings, revenues. But frankly, I find the quality of refereeing this year has generally declined … many, many more bad calls, missed calls and inconsistent calls against all teams. And there’s a new factor: have you notiuced how the linesmen are also stepping up their “throw-outs” at faceoffs? It’s as if they too want to be noticed and have an impact on the game …rather than just drop the puck. h.o)

    Gary “Buttman” wake up. There is a problem with violence in the league. Get off your ass and clean it up. If you can’t or wont do that, then you are part of the problem and should be fired. Never before has there been so many injuries and concussions in the NHL. At one time players didn’t even wear helmets and it was rare to hear of some one with a concussion.

  7. Heinz Markwart says:

    After watching game 6 of Canucks vs. Bruins I am appalled at the Referees. I used to work for Lloyd Gilmour, retired senior NHL referee and this was a man of principals and integrity. This seems to be lost by the Referees of today.

  8. AEK says:

    I think it is painfully obvious that the referees are not calling penalties evenly. Personally, I think it is because:
    1)they want influence the outcome of games.
    2)they want the games to be close.

    Whatever the agenda behind the first reason is, I am not sure it’s as simple as Canadian teams versus American teams. For example, as a person who will cheer for anyone but the Canucks or Canadiens I see those teams getting away with murder most nights.

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