If you have tuned in to the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs, you may have noticed a disturbing trend in these playoffs. This disturbing trend involves the on-ice officiating (or lack thereof). The questionable officiating has been a hot topic around the league, and players, coaches, and fans are becoming very frustrated with the inconsistencies.
The latest questionable incident with the on-ice officials came in the Western Conference Finals Game 3 matchup featuring the St. Louis Blues and San Jose Sharks. The game was decided by a questionable overtime goal that involved a hand pass that was not called. Check out the highlights:
This was clearly a hand pass that was not called by any of the on-ice officials. In addition to the non-call, this is a non-reviewable play under the current rules of the league.
MORE QUESTIONABLE POSTSEASON OFFICIATING
Playoff hockey tends to be more vicious and the on-ice officials let the players play a little bit more dangerously.
Here are some more highlights of some questionable calls (and non-calls) in the 2019 Stanley Cup playoffs:
First Round, Game 7: Vegas Golden Knights versus San Jose Sharks
Golden Knights forward Cody Eakin received a five-minute major for a cross-check to Sharks forward Joe Pavelski. The on-ice officials claimed that Eakin’s stick made contact with Pavelski’s head. Did Eakin make contact with Pavelski’s head? The stick appears to hit Pavelski in the chest. This call likely changed the final outcome of this series.
First Round, Game 4: Washington Capitals versus Carolina Hurricanes
Hurricanes forward Warren Foegele received a two-minute minor for boarding Capitals forward T.J. Oshie. This dangerous play caused a clavicle injury for Oshie, which he later had surgery on. Was this play only worth a two-minute minor?
Second Round, Game 3: Boston Bruins versus Columbus Blue Jackets
Bruins forward Brad Marchand gave Blue Jackets defenseman Scott Harrington a stiff punch to the back of his head. There was no call on the play and Marchand did not receive any supplemental discipline. Perhaps a two-minute minor for roughing should have been called.
Second Round, Game 6: Boston Bruins versus Columbus Blue Jackets
Bruins defenseman Charlie McAvoy received a two-minute minor for an illegal check to the head to Blue Jackets forward Josh Anderson. McAvoy later received a one-game suspension for this hit, but this hit was questionably called a two-minute minor. Was this check to the head worth only two minutes?
Second Round, Game 4: St. Louis Blues versus Dallas Stars
Blues forward David Perron gave Stars goaltender Ben Bishop a strong slash to his back inside the trapezoid. No penalty was called on the play. Perhaps a slashing penalty should have been called here.
THE NHL MUST TAKE ACTION AND MAKE CHANGES
The inconsistencies are beginning to add up for the NHL, and it is certainly not a good look for the league.
At the end of the day, player safety is always an issue, and the NHL is not doing the best job on the ice to protect the players. The on-ice officials must do a better job of calling plays that are blatantly penalties, and rough stuff that occurs away from the puck.
In regards to overtime goals, the NHL must change the overtime format. Perhaps the NHL should mandate that any overtime goal is automatically reviewed. The NFL has this in place with every touchdown scored, so it should be no issue for the NHL to put something similar into place.
While on-ice officials are human and make mistakes, the mistakes being made are simply out of confusion. The on-ice officials seem conflicted on what to call on the ice when it comes to something major. The NHL must clear up the confusion among its on-ice officials. The officials must be properly trained on what to do in certain situations. If the referees cannot comprehend what the NHL wants in regards to appropriate officiating, then new officials must be trained and brought into the mix. Perhaps some former players can come in and perform on-ice officiating duties for the league.
By: George Foussekis