Toronto Maple Leafs: The NHL Needs an Officiating Overhaul

The Toronto Maple Leafs and Winnipeg Jets played a game last night that is far more noteworthy for the performance of the referees than the players.

The Toronto Maple Leafs did not lose last night’s game because the refs were garbage – don’t get me wrong. I am not here to write an excuse column, I just want to talk about the fact that the NHL is considered a professional sports league but that it isn’t really a professional league in any way. ,

A professional league would fire Gary Bettman for presiding over the Chicago Blackhawks scandal. That’s just for starters.

A professional league would have professional referees and it would hold them to account. It wouldn’t send out whiny memos about not picking on the refs for doing a horrible job.

A professional league would have independent discipline and work to make the game safer, not appoint an ex-enforcer to hand out nonsensical suspensions and fines that do nothing to make the game safer.

But last night was a joke among jokes.

The NHL Has an Officiating Problem

Here is B-level star mugging the games most marketable superstar (because Connor has no personality) and second best player.

Somehow a person who is at the height of their chosen profession thought the right call on that play was matching minor penalties.

Then, right after, when the Leafs should be on the power-play, but aren’t:

How do you miss a call when the player gets hit while he has the puck and is getting a scoring chance? There’s four refs on the ice, and not one of them is watching the play develop? It’s unbelievable.

This should be five-and-a-game, and it wasn’t even assessed a minor penalty.

These are just two examples, but if you watch any random NHL games you can see things just as bad.

Missed calls are one thing, even-up calls are even worse.  The NHL is known for “game management” and recently had to fire one of it’s most respected veteran refs because they said so outloud.

From the Player Safety Department to the fact that people paid to watch the game don’t even know what is and isn’t a penalty anymore, the NHL needs a complete overhaul in how it calls the games.

Sending out a memo is just embarrassing. They deserve criticism and should do something to change the perception that their league is an absolute joke.

  1. Call the game by the book
  2. Do not call the games based on the score, period, season, or who took the last penalty.
  3. Create a game where skill is rewarded and bad players and teams can’t equalize the playing field by doing illegal things they know will go uncalled.
  4. Suspend players for an amount of games that sends a message about what will and will not be tolerated.

I respect the fact that hockey is a game that is hard to officiate, and I understand that perfection can never be achieved.  All I really want to see is the league recognize the problem and commit to doing better.