Tuesday, April 1, 2014

NHL Officiating Inconsistency. Who is at fault?

Credit: ESPN
Who is to blame for the inconsistency with NHL officiating? Is it the referees? Is it the players? Is it the coaches? Or is it the League?

Inconsistency with NHL officiating seems to be a big problem this year, but don’t kid yourselves Habs fans it’s not only happening in Montreal and in games involving the Montreal Canadiens.

In Montreal this season, we have seen several goals that have been disallowed, and we have seen questionable calls on PK Subban and Brendan Gallagher (partly their fault due to the reputation they have). We have seen some players do the exact same things we call “hockey plays” that Subban and Gallagher do, and get away with them. These types of situations happen in every single rink in the league, every single night.

The game is faster than ever, the players are bigger and stronger, the coaches have great strategies and “The League has instructions that they give the Officials".

There are currently 42 referees and 35 linesmen on active duty in the NHL. 28 out of the 42 referees have anywhere from 10 to 26 years of NHL experience. I don’t expect any of these guys to officiate a game the same way. It’s impossible. Every person reacts to different situations in different ways. What one referee sees as a high stick is a hook to another, what one sees as a hook is nothing at all to another official. Fans will always complain regardless. It’s human nature.

What has become clear is that we’re all wrong. The officiating is extremely consistent. They call what they see. That’s the bottom line. That’s where the war room in Toronto comes in. And ladies and gentlemen that’s where the problem is!

As fans our major issue is when the referees go to Toronto and the decisions are almost never the same on plays that are identical. A rule is a rule. The intent of a player should not be considered. He either did it or he did not. He either hit the goalie or he did not. He either kicked the puck or he did not. Nobody can read someone else’s thoughts. This nonsense has to stop.

The problem is not the inconsistency of the officials; it’s the inconsistency of the NHL.
The NHL has the war room in Toronto where you have “NON-OFFICIALS” taking officiating decisions. To me that’s absolutely absurd. You don’t ask a player to referee or a referee to play. That does not make any sense. The war room should have at least one official assisting with the final decision. The referee knows the rule book inside out, the referee has been applying the RULES his whole life.

The NHL has to stop using the word “INTENT”. My favorite one is the “INTENT TO WHISTLE”. Oh come on. It’s either the whistle was blown or it wasn’t. It’s either player A pushed player B from behind, not the intent. Punish the action, everybody will learn from it.



Written by Eitan Calmy


I've been involved in the game for 25+ years, as a player, a referee (over 15 years), and now as a minor league coach (I coach my 7-year-old son) I can say that I know and understand the game. I'm definitely not an expert, but who is?


It's the league with their no tolerance rule. Bring back old time hockey.Knuckles Nilan says that he was told to fight through the check. Now it's holding or interference.When the sticks were made of wood they wouldn't break when they got tapped.Alot of the calls I've seen are borderline at best.

It is playoff time, and the truth is, the NHL and its officials favour teams such as the Bruins or LA. It may be human nature, as you suggest, but it is still wrong. Imagine a study that would look at how many calls were made versus actual infractions. A team like Montreal or Detroit will find the higher ratio, because they don't commit as many. Boston, or LA, do a lot more, and so many more don't get called. Try to insert some logic here if you can. This format favours certain teams. It baffles me that businesses such as these don't have more to say about it. I wonder what percentage the officials have in mind for someone like Marchand? I imagine that they are thinking, I will call him after X times, or, that's just Marchand, that's what he does?!? The meaning of a "playoff team" has become somewhat baffling to me.

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