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Tortorella calls Winter Classic reffing “disgusting”

Jan 2, 2012, 8:19 PM EDT


The NHL won’t be happy with a few of the post-Winter Classic comments made by the winning coach and general manager.

When asked about the officiating in the third period of the Rangers’ 3-2 victory over the Flyers at Citizens Bank Park, coach John Tortorella called it “disgusting.”

In the last five minutes, New York was penalized three times – for delay of game, holding the stick, and covering the puck in the crease, the latter of which led to a Philadelphia penalty shot with 20 seconds left.

Apparently Tortorella smelled something fishy about the Flyers being down a goal, playing outdoors in a packed baseball stadium, millions watching on TV, and – hey, wouldn’t you know it – the home team keeps getting all the calls.

“Maybe [the referees] wanted to get it to an overtime,” Tortorella quipped. “I’m not sure if they have meetings about that or what.”

Meanwhile, GM Glen Sather was equally apoplectic.

“You see three or four calls that are enough to blow your mind,” Sather told The Record.

Don’t be surprised if Tortorella gets fined for his comments. The NHL doesn’t need its officiating called into question following the showpiece game of the regular season.

  1. acieu - Jan 2, 2012 at 8:29 PM

    Dislike the Flyers and rooted for NY but the calls all seemed good to me. Secondly I would opine that after the Philadelphia fans whizzed in the parking lot during tailgating the Flyers then crapped the bed inside the stadium.

    • stakex - Jan 3, 2012 at 1:52 AM

      If you think the last 5 minutes of the game was refed “good”, you need to join the refs on their trip to get new glasses….

  2. kellyb9 - Jan 2, 2012 at 8:32 PM

    What is Tortorella smoking? It was some of the best reffing I’ve seen all season. For most of the game, you didn’t even know they were there. Funny how he completely neglects to mention them blowing the whistle with the puck on Briere’s stick and Lundquist completely out of position during the power play… selective memory I suppose. I’ll give the Rangers a well deserved two points, but give me a break with this us vs. the world crap. Great winter classic game.

    • hanktheking - Jan 3, 2012 at 1:21 PM

      The puck was lost from anyone’s sight for at least 5 seconds, are they just supposed to let everyone slash away at Henrik until it squirts out? The penalty shot call was iffy, I would have liked to see them review it a little more as there wasn’t any clear evidence of a hand on the puck, and the “holding the stick” call on Callahan was a complete joke. It just proves the Rangers are THAT MUCH BETTER than the Flyers.

  3. danphipps01 - Jan 2, 2012 at 8:33 PM

    “The NHL doesn’t need its officiating called into question following the showpiece game of the regular season.”

    After the delay of game and covering the puck penalties, I heartily disagree. That’s EXACTLY what the NHL needs. Those calls were magicked from thin air to make the game “more exciting” – meaning, blatantly handing the home team in the Winter Classic a chance to get back in the game. It was straight-up bad officiating and Torts’ assessment is dead-on. Yeah, he’s a dick about it, but that doesn’t make those calls any less terrible.

    • dggjr - Jan 7, 2012 at 11:39 AM

      I agree on both parts. As a hockey fan, but not for either team, I couldn’t believe the bad calls at the end of the game. At the same time, I am sure the Rangers have gotten their fair share of bad calls in their favor, so stop whining.

  4. sharksfan754 - Jan 2, 2012 at 8:39 PM

    I wish refs had post game press conferences for all sports so they’d have some accountability from the media at least

    • danphipps01 - Jan 2, 2012 at 8:45 PM

      Are you kidding me? Every single game, some idiot homer journalist would use it as an excuse to abuse them for doing their jobs. No call would go without vitriolic whining, even the blatantly fair ones. As bad as some calls are, refs already have to deal with crap for just doing their jobs. Expecting them to sit there and get chewed out by ignorant journalists for doing their jobs would be ridiculous.

      • sharksfan754 - Jan 2, 2012 at 8:59 PM

        I work for an NFL franchise and have been to nearly every press conference the last 5 years for the opposing team. The reporters are professionals and ask generally fair questions to the opposition. I’d expect them to ask things like “what did you see at the end of the game where you called the penalty shot for covering the puck in the crease? So you saw his hand over the puck?” I realize it won’t happen hence why I used the word “wish.” But you gotta admit the refs would have a lot more accountability if they knew they’d have to defend bad calls

  5. oquintero99 - Jan 2, 2012 at 8:47 PM

    Im no Rangers fan and saw the whole game. I do agree with Torts on this one, especially the covering the puck penalty

  6. cruuuzcontrol - Jan 2, 2012 at 8:51 PM

    The refs did everything but put the dang puck in the net for the Flyers. Fortunately, the rules don’t give them a way to do that.

    Seriously, though… I can’t say I endorse all the conspiracy theories. But this series of calls coming so fast at the end of the game… it smelled, smelled bad. Glad the Rangers had the intestinal fortitude to overcome it and hold on.

    In other news, I guess $50 million doesn’t buy what it used to, eh?

  7. pastabelly - Jan 2, 2012 at 9:02 PM

    The holding the stick penalty was stupid. If you’re being hooked or slashed, you should be allowed some leeway on that one.

    • pafenceman - Jan 3, 2012 at 5:52 PM

      how about looking at it the other way . if hes holding the stick , how did kimmo hook him , that arguement can go both way , as for the hand on the puck in the crease , if you seen the same replay that i did from behind the net , you seen him put his hand over the puck and push it forward ,

  8. cowboys282 - Jan 2, 2012 at 9:03 PM

    After years of watching Playoff hockey I always know that if there is a game 6 the team that is down 3-2 in the series will get all the calls in game 6. Thats why there is so many game 7’s in the NHL.

    But for a game like the Winter Classic it’s silly for the ref’s to make it look so obvious. Those same fan’s the NHL is trying to attract to the sport could easily be turned off if they feel the game is not being called legitimately.

  9. jkay1818 - Jan 2, 2012 at 9:06 PM

    I guess i commented too soon, before this article was posted. My prior comment was on the penalty shot article, that was the worst officiated game I have seen in a long long time. It was absolutely brutal. Someone actually said callahan took a dive. a dive? rather than just hit center ice and go for the empty net? The mcdonagh delay of game call was a travesty, considering van riemsdyk threw him into the net. The gaborik no call when he was hooked late was missed and when hagelin had a rebound similar to richards where his stick was held. I know calls get missed like that 9 times a game, but if you dont call that, those other calls shouldnt have been made.
    Aside from tortorella making those comments, the most painful part of that interview was when some reporter asked him what he thought about “the prominent flyer rookies” and he looked confused. what kind of question was that?

    • hystoracle - Jan 3, 2012 at 4:18 PM

      Callahan did take a dive.. Classic embellishment. He was getting hooked. IF he kept moving his feet instead of embellishing the call he could have put the puck in the empty net.. The officiating was bad at the end – clearly trying to get the game to OT. But Callahan’s penalty for diving was justified.

  10. firemarshal1 - Jan 2, 2012 at 10:01 PM

    Well, the NHL (The Canadians) hate the NY Rangers hockey team. I don’t get it, official ate fairly. The league would grow and attract new fans. Coach John Tort, your right and tell Bateman to do his job right, no homers allowed.

    • maalea - Jan 3, 2012 at 5:12 PM

      Well, the NHL (The Canadians) hate the NY Rangers hockey team. I don’t get it, official ate fairly.

      Since the NHL office hates the Rangers, I guess the officials fairly ate cheesesteaks.

  11. Jeff - Jan 2, 2012 at 10:07 PM

    I agree with Torts regarding the covering the puck penalty, but not the other two.

  12. mornelithe - Jan 2, 2012 at 10:11 PM

    Yeah, as far as what was shown on TV, there was really no evidence that his hand covered or touched the puck, the holding the stick penalty was idiotic, and the delay of game penalty was obviously a blown call by anyone with eyes, and those without them, clearly read it in braille via the replay. Bruins fan, and I have to tell you, it doesn’t matter what team is out there and who gets the bad call. Crappy officiating ruins any sporting event and stunts like this only make you question whether or not the league has their hands in the cookie jar.

    Disgraceful. And given their salaries, whatever fines they incur are worth it, speaking out against blatantly terrible officiating is pretty much a responsibility, in my opinion.

  13. mojosmagic - Jan 2, 2012 at 10:19 PM

    Completely classless especially since the Rangers won the game. Shut up, enjoy the day, and your win.

    • stakex - Jan 3, 2012 at 1:59 AM

      Its the point. The refs very very clearly had the goal of getting the game tied to force a dramatic overtime finish. It couldn’t be more obvious. Sure the Rangers still managed to win… but they shouldn’t have had to fight as hard for the win as they did. This is not some backwater bush league… its the NHL, supposedly the best hockey league in the world. Yet the league is going to let (or tell) its refs make games interesting with phantom penelty calls? Thats not the NHL I want to watch.

  14. mtm1321 - Jan 2, 2012 at 10:21 PM

    I totally agree with Tort, the last few minutes of the games officiating sucked. Almost on the grounds of ” home job”

  15. eagles512 - Jan 2, 2012 at 10:25 PM

    I’m with mojo…no class. You won the game. And it was a great game. And for what it’s worth, the penalty shot was the right call. So much for 24/7 making Tortorella more likable….that’s gone now.

    • dte421 - Jan 2, 2012 at 10:34 PM

      oh weird, a dude with “eagles” in his screenname thinks a homer call for the Flyers was the right one? It makes sense, because it’s the only plausible explanation for thinking that should have been a penalty shot. Watch the replay.

  16. henste11 - Jan 2, 2012 at 10:26 PM

    Why would torts get fined? He is exactly right, these refs stunk up what was areally good game.
    A ref from Philly who played for the Jr.Flyers and is unbiased? Give me a break!!!!!! Just like the times Kerry Frazier called games in Philly. Only one team was commiting penalties, and it wasn’t the Flyers.
    To bad the NHL can’t fine me for what I am about to say, but their refereesvare the WORLDS WORST!! Bar none. Not only has the game been ruined by the likes of Gary Bettman, the top brass lacks any brain function either.

  17. eagles512 - Jan 2, 2012 at 11:57 PM

    Why would I not be able to admit if the call was wrong? It’s not like the flyers scored on the penalty shot to win. Most analysts I’ve heard since the game ended agreed it should have been a penalty shot.

  18. stakex - Jan 3, 2012 at 2:37 AM

    Where to begin. I’ve seen some horribly refed games over the last few years… but this was the worst by far. Considering the officiating was pretty even for 2 3/4 periods, thats saying something. For those who think everything was fine, or that Torts shouldn’t complain when he won… think about these calls.

    1. Ryan McDonagh was called for Delay of Game when he was CLEARLY pushed into his own net by a Flyers player. This should have been a no brainer Interference call against the Flyers, instead the Rangers ended up short handed. With two refs watching the play, there is no way that should have happened.

    2. After the McDonagh sham expired Gaborik was blatently hooked on a breakaway. Now adays, any little tap on a players hand during a breakaway is called a hook. Yet, despite the Flyers player having his stick wrapped around Gaborik and denying a clean scoring chance…. there was no call on the play. If this happened during any other game, it would certainly have been a penelty shot.

    3. Ryan Callahan was called for Holding the Stick while nearly having a breakaway at an empty net. The penelty shot with 20 seconds left might be the call everyone talks about, but this call on Callahan was the worst. He was being hooked around the neck, and reached for the stick to get it away from his neck. How in the hell is that a penelty? It was made very clear at that point the refs simply were not going to make a call that was going to hurt the Flyers chances of making the game even.

    4. The penelty shot with 20 seconds left. You know, I’ve watched the play 20 times… and I sure as hell can’t tell for sure that McDonagh covered the puck. So with that said, someone please tell me how the ref could see that through the pile of bodies that was in front of him. This was nothing short of giving the Flyers a free try to tie the game for added drama. Nothing more, nothing less… and it makes me sick.


    You know, I have had some issues with the way games are refed in the NHL for a while. Since the lockout there has been a clear effort to make games closer to slightly tipping the bias in favor of teams that are trailing. Anyone who watches enough hockey games knows damn well that if a team is down by a goal with a few minutes left…. odds are pretty good all the calls are going to go their way.

    Today however took that to a new height. Not only was there a slight bias in favor of the Flyers, the refs might as well have had orange jerseys on. The three penelties they called on the Rangers weren’t becasue the refs were calling the game tight in the end…. they were simply phantom calls that didn’t exist. Not only that, but the refs simply refused to put the Flyers down a man when they commited at least a couple very blatent penelties.

    It was very disgraceful to watch. The NHL is suppose to be the best league in the world… yet the league is going to let (or worse, tell) its refs play king maker in big games like this? What a joke. The NHL is suppose to be the best league in the world, and if its going to keep that label this kind of crap can not be tolerated. This might just be one game, but to let it go without comment would be a sign from the league that its perfectly fine with the outcome of games being decided by the refs… which makes me not want to watch NHL hockey right now.

  19. vanfoodman - Jan 3, 2012 at 2:54 AM

    I said it earlier in the week, this season is the worst officiated season I’ve ever seen. I don’t know whether it’s the new rules, the amount of new refs or a lack of direction from Terry Gregson, the National Hockey League Director of Officiating, but something is very, very wrong. The inconsistency is just unbelievable. I watch a lot of games from east to west and you never know what the refs are going to call or let go. Add to that the ongoing Shanahan debacle and you’ve got a league in complete free fall. The players must be going crazy, they don’t know what to expect from game to game and neither do the fans. Deplorable!

  20. 2qswing - Jan 3, 2012 at 9:29 AM

    WWE refs

  21. eagles512 - Jan 3, 2012 at 10:26 AM

    I do admit the McDonagh call was horrible however.

  22. ctnyrfan - Jan 3, 2012 at 2:35 PM

    The only thing worse than the biased officating was the extremely biased NBC-NHL covergae.
    Mike Milbury and Keith what’s his nuts are avowed NY Ranger Haters.
    They have never said ‘anything’ remotely complimentary of ‘anything’ a NY Ranger team or player has acomplished.
    Sour-Grapes to the tenth degree.

  23. freddyboombatz - Jan 3, 2012 at 4:22 PM

    The only thing worse than the refs was the camera work!

  24. buffalomafia - Jan 3, 2012 at 4:25 PM

    Quit crying! Briere choked!

  25. dcfriedm - Jan 3, 2012 at 4:56 PM

    I agree with Tortorella on one of the calls, but he’s simply wrong on the other two. Plus, the refs failed to call a flagrant interference call against the Rangers, right before the one odd call he was right on. Briere was taken down when he was nowhere near the puck and the refs let it go. Frankly, the concept that NHL referees favored the Flyers is pretty silly.

    The penalty shot call, btw, was spot on. It was clear from the replay that the Rangers player closed his hand on the puck in the crease.

    I agree that NHL officiating leaves a lot to be desired, but it tends to be biased against the Flyers, not favoring them. This is not a new issue; it has been the case since the mid-1970s.

  26. flyerfan1331 - Jan 6, 2012 at 10:42 AM

    As a Flyer fan, but most importantly a hockey fan, I can say that if you watch the WHOLE game, you will see many things let go for both teams. The refs let the teams play. There were several phantom whistles for both sides, other times they gave each team a little too much freedom. Either way it was a great hockey game.
    I am amazed at the number of people – not fans – that post here to complain about officiating of a game that your team won. I believe as a true fan, you never complain about officiating. You take the refs out of the game by playing a good strategic game.
    New York Rangers clearly played a better game, played better each game this year, I might add. Yes, my TEAM lost. They lost, not because of the referees. because New York played better.

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