The St. Louis Blues have been fortunate as far as their officiating has gone in the 2018-19 playoffs. A former member of the franchise has some interesting ideas on how to help the stripes from the other series and beyond.
St. Louis Blues fans are no strangers to bad officiating. For the past decade, and perhaps more, it always felt like the Blues were facing two opponents.
Going up against the likes of Chicago or Nashville, it felt like the Blues were constantly in the penalty box. It also felt like many of those penalties were not deserved.
It is hard to know the truth sometimes though. Are they bad calls because they are bad or are they bad calls because we see things through a Blues prism? Sometimes it is both and sometimes one or the other.
One of the main problems with the NHL, and hockey in general, is the subjectivity of so many calls. There is subjectivity within any sport, but hockey seems to have it the worst.
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What is a crosscheck or a hook is not the same from game to game or even period to period. The NHL might be the worst sport in the world for swallowing the whistle at the end of games.
Fans want consistency. As Chris Kerber has said so many times, NHL officiating is consistently inconsistent.
Former player and announcer, Kelly Chase, has some interesting ideas that might fix that. There will never be a foolproof way to fix officiating, but tweaks are not always a bad thing.
A few days ago, Chase discussed the officiating on his Twitter. At first, he focused on retention and salary.
I’ll admit, I have not researched this sort of thing. I only know the arguments Chase presented and the counter points his followers gave.
What I will say is that if the NHL officials are underpaid, then logic dictates you are not going to get all the potential referees you might otherwise. However, it is hard to pity anyone making over $100,000 per year, regardless of stress.
Neverthless, Chase’s points are valid. He also decries forcing out more experienced referees for younger ones that have not paid their dues, but are just faster skaters as he puts it.
That is something Chase used to harp about during radio broadcasts a lot. Again, I do not have inside information on that, but it does seem like there was a sudden change in the officiating crews and guys were retiring all at once. Perhaps they were forced out.
None of that is all that good. Yes, sometimes you need the old crew to step aside. However, if there is no dip in performance, there is no need to force anyone out.
The one good thing about some of the old refs was you knew what you were getting. Maybe you liked how they called a game or maybe you hated it, but you had a strong idea what you were getting. Some of today’s officials blow with the wind as far as their calls go.
In a round about way, that brings up the egregious penalty that gifted the San Jose Sharks a comeback win in Game 7 of their opening round against Vegas. For those that did not see it, I will include it below.
We can all debate about the hit until we are blue in the face. I do not think it was even a penalty, at least not how the game is called most of the time. Also, it was the secondary bump by Paul Stastny that forced an injury situation, not the crosscheck in the first place.
However, because someone was bleeding, the referees had a knee jerk reaction and called a major penalty even though nobody was calling a penalty during the play. All of that came after the fact of Joe Pavelski getting hurt.
You cannot be reactionary as an official. If you did not see it, you cannot call it. I officiate a different sport and that is the rule I go by.
Another idea Chase had about that, which he discussed in a radio interview, was possibly adding an official. He was not saying more bodies on an already crowded rink either.
The idea would be to put an official in the stands or around the rink, but somewhere at center ice. They would stay stationary, obviously, which would give them a unique perspective on the game.
I think it is a fantastic idea. You would have to work some sort of communication system that would not break up or malfunction in the arena, but it could be good.
I’ve often noticed how big a difference it is watching from the stands and being on the field or rink. You have such a different viewpoint when you are on the level of the players that things literally look different.
Sometimes just moving a little bit can alter your vision. Staying still is sometimes the best way to see a play.
Maybe another official could have talked those referees out of handing out a major penalty on something that was a borderline two-minute penalty. Maybe it could have been the difference with the Blues against Nashville when their players were constantly diving like it was a European soccer match.
Who knows for sure. The one thing most hockey fans can agree on is that something needs to change. Perhaps more than any other sport, officiating always seems to be a huge topic of discussion in the NHL.
You cannot have that as your narrative. Maybe it is time to think outside the box as Chaser has done.