A Rant on Officiating in the NHL

While its not uncommon these days to hear hockey fans complaining about how many penalties are being called in games this year, it seems that no one comments any longer on a problem that the NHL has had for many years. I’m talking about officials who put the whistle in their pocket near the end of the game, particularly if the game is close, or tied. It gets worse during playoff runs, and particularly during the playoffs themselves.

“But we don’t want the official to call a penalty that might decide the outcome of the game,” cry some. This is, of course, a load of crap.

A tripping penalty that is called in the first two minutes of the game should also be called in the last two minutes of a game. Doing anything else makes the NHL look like a bush league.

After all, if the penalty is called, and the team on the powerplay scores, and winds up winning the game because they were on the powerplay, that is not the official’s fault. The official didn’t affect the outcome of the game by calling the penalty, the player taking the penalty did by committing the infraction at a critical point in time.

Should a baseball umpire not call strike three on a batter, because it might mean that the World Series is over? That’s affecting the outcome of the game isn’t it?

Football actually has it right. The number of times that pass interference is called at a critical time in the game, allowing a team to move down the field and putting them then in a position to win, is not the fault of the official, but of the player stupid enough to interfere at that point in time.

It’s quite simple. A penalty is a penalty, and it’s not the official that affects the outcome of the game by calling it.

2 Comments so far

  1. Kyle (unregistered) on December 10th, 2005 @ 2:59 pm

    I couldn’t agree with you more.

  2. Jeffery Simpson (unregistered) on December 10th, 2005 @ 5:47 pm

    I agree to a certain degree. I do think that officiating can affect the outcome of a game. Take the F.A. Cup in English football a few years ago.

    My Arsenal was beating Liverpool when a Thierry Henry shot was blocked by a Liverpool defender’s arm. Since it was in the box Arsenal should have gotten a pelanty shot but instead the offical missed it and Liverpool managed to come back and win by one goal.

    That missed call affected the outcome of the game.

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