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Columnist: Senators getting “jammed” by referees

Feb 2, 2012, 9:30 AM EDT


It’s no secret the Ottawa Senators have had their, ahem, differences with certain NHL officials this season.

Now, one columnist thinks those differences have gone too far.

Don Brennan of QMI Agency writes that ever since Sens coach Paul MacLean said referee Dan O’Rourke told him Erik Karlsson was a diver, Ottawa has gotten the short end of the officiating stick.

Have the Senators been getting jammed by the referees ever since coach Paul MacLean told reporters O’Rourke declared Erik Karlsson guilty of embellishment? Yes. Is it a coincidence that there’s been controversial calls or non-calls favouring the opposition in each of their next three games, all losses? Not likely. Members of the officiating fraternity have each other’s back.

The purported tipping point came during Ottawa’s 4-3 loss to Boston on Tuesday. The Senators were whistled for four penalties, the Bruins none — an eyebrow-raising development given Boston is the league’s most-penalized team.

That penalty-free game came after two controversial calls against Ottawa (both since the MacLean-O’Rourke incident):

— Jan. 23 vs. L.A.: Referees O’Rourke and Tim Peel awarded the Kings a penalty shot even though replays showed the penalty wasn’t warranted.

— Jan, 24 vs. Phoenix: Referees Peel and Dan O’Halloran waved off an apparent third period tying goal by Daniel Alfredsson with a questionable goalie interference call.

If the Senators believe they’re getting shafted by refs, they’re not saying it publicly.

“I respect those guys too much to think anybody would be out to get us,” said Jason Spezza. “They’re trying to do their jobs and they get evaluated, too. I’m sure they’re trying to do their jobs.”

MacLean suggested the recent string of calls was mere coincidence.

“When you play 82 games, and they play 1,500 games or whatever it is in the league, I think there’s going to be curious things happen all the time,” said MacLean. “I don’t have any issue with it.”

This Senators/MacLean/O’Rourke incident is similar to one from Jan. 2010, when Vancouver’s Alex Burrows accused referee Stephane Auger of “getting back at him” for embellishing a penalty a month earlier. After an investigation from then-NHL discipline czar Colin Campbell, Burrows was fined $2,500 for publicly questioning the integrity of an official.

Speaking of the integrity of officials, here’s what ex-referee Kerry Fraser had to say on the Ottawa issue (courtesy

I have had games where one team received all the penalties and their opponents none. Referees do not act as accountants to balance the books. It is not their job to make sure each team receives an equal number of penalties by the end of the game.

This conspiracy theory has gotten way out of hand.

Fraser then went on to say referees take upholding the game’s integrity very seriously.

  1. back2backbees - Feb 2, 2012 at 9:46 AM

    Hey Don, here’s a big box of tissues for you!

  2. solador78 - Feb 2, 2012 at 10:31 AM

    Everybody knows that the NHL was out to screw the Rangers in favor of the Flyers/NBC/PHT.

    So it shouldn’t come as a surprise that referees favor the league-owned Coyotes and the Kings who are owned by the same Anschutz Entertainment Group that killed Michael Jackson.

  3. lewdood - Feb 2, 2012 at 10:54 AM

    Gord Wilson (Sens radio color guy) was apoplectic during the game against the Bruins on Tuesday. He’s generally not that bad of a homer, but he sounded like he was absolutely disgusted by O’Rourke. I guess O’Rourke even waved off what was apparently a pretty obvious icing in the last couple of minutes, too, after the Sens had gone down 4-3 on the wacky Seidenberg goal.

    • 1943mrmojorisin1971 - Feb 2, 2012 at 1:31 PM

      Refs don’t deal with icings so O’Rourke wouldn’t have waved one off.

      If you haven’t already you should read that whole post by Kerry Fraser. Good call on that quote, Mike, that’s the one that best sums up how ridiculous the Sens, their fans, and their media is being.

      • danphipps01 - Feb 2, 2012 at 1:35 PM

        You might want to read a little closer. The Sens themselves are absolutely rejecting the implication that the refs are biased against them. I know you’re a Toronto homer, but try not to let it blind you too badly, alright?

      • 1943mrmojorisin1971 - Feb 2, 2012 at 1:49 PM

        Ok, the Sens fans and their media, is that better? But don’t forget it was their coach that brought up the whole O’Rourke-called-Karlsson-a-diver thing in the first place.

      • danphipps01 - Feb 2, 2012 at 4:30 PM

        Uh, that’s because he did. You know, literal fact there. Saying “He said this about my player and it pisses me off” doesn’t lead to “It’s a conspiracy! They’re making my team lose!”, hence why MacLean’s ALSO saying that he DOESN’T believe the refs as a whole are “against” the Senators. O’Rourke DID say that, and MacLean WAS understandably pissed about it, especially considering it was pretty obviously a trip and not a dive. But neither he nor the Senators are making the mistake of saying “Everyone’s out to get us!” The fans and the homer journalists, they’re another story, and I’m not going out of my way to defend their idiocy.

      • 1943mrmojorisin1971 - Feb 2, 2012 at 6:01 PM

        Just curious, has anyone other than Mu-mu-mustache confirmed O’Rourke said that?

  4. kaf39 - Feb 2, 2012 at 11:01 AM

    Very interesting.

  5. atteckus - Feb 2, 2012 at 11:52 AM

    The Bruins played a rather milquetoast game coming off the All-Star break, and weren’t hitting and grinding like they usually do. The Sens actually had great freedom of movement throughout the first and second periods, leading to them dominating those two periods. I didn’t see anything flagrant that should have been called as a penalty. That said, I will agree that there were some “linesman” calls that should/could have gone the other way, such as a couple of offsides and several icing calls. That stuff is a judgment call that can go either way on any given night.

    Even though the Spezza crosscheck on Boychuk was flagrant, I probably would have swallowed the whistle on it, given that the B’s were up a goal, it was in front of the net (boys will be boys, ya know), and it was in the last 10 seconds of the game. I didn’t see anything that was called against the Sens that was reprehensible. If there was, I would say so because there’s nothing I hate worse than watching the refs tilt the ice in an unfair direction (i.e., the Winter Classic).

    I think this particular game is a bad example for extolling a claim that the Sens are getting jammed.

    • solador78 - Feb 2, 2012 at 12:21 PM

      Linesmen target key faceoff-men at key moments in every game.Then once the score/total is headed in the right direction, they randomly toss a fourth liner on the other team to balance it out.

      Referees don’t call bad penalties on just one team, because that’s too obvious. Instead, they let the preferred team (ie. Boston) set the bar for what is tolerated and when the other team crosses it (ie. Ottawa), they get called. This gives the illusion of consistency, but when compared to all other games, is anything but.

    • solador78 - Feb 2, 2012 at 12:55 PM

      How to fix a bet without bribing players to lose:

      Game 4 of the NBA Finals
      Vegas line opened with Miami +3.5 underdogs.
      Runners for offshore casinos bought up all the Miami action and resold it at +3.0 to regular joes that couldn’t bet with Vegas books directly.
      Game finished 86-83 Dallas, which is a Push for regular joes… but a Win for the offshore casinos on their own Vegas bets.

      Super Bowl 46 line…
      Vegas opened -3.5.
      Offshore is reselling it at -3.

      If the game finishes with anything but a Push, offshore books breaks even… but if it pushes… PAYDAY!!!

  6. kitshky - Feb 2, 2012 at 5:11 PM

    Ok for the record, I have absolutely zero attachment to the Sen’s …dont like or dislike. I don’t know enough about whats been going in Ottawa’s games to state an opinion on whether or not theyre being targeted. But…

    I forgot that Kerry Fraser had the audacity to try and convince NHL fans that “… Referees do not act as accountants to balance the books. It is not their job to make sure each team receives an equal number of penalties by the end of the game.”

    Are you kidding me!? Anyone who’s watched more than a few seasons of NHL hockey (nevermind an educated fan) knows that the officials routinely even up calls, thats just a fact …its what they do. That’s why they’re called “even up calls” for friks sake! It’s also why every hockey player in the world knows that after your teams had a few PP’s you need to keep your nose clean because the Ref’s will be looking for anything. Thats just part of the game.

    Clearly after all these years Kerry Fraser is still basically nothing but ego and hairspray … good to know some things never change.

  7. 4cupsinarow - Feb 2, 2012 at 6:46 PM

    It’s been happening to the Islanders for quite some time now… Hell the Maple Leafs weren’t called for 1 penalty in either game of the home and home played against the Isles right before the Allstar break… And we all know the Leafs are such a clean team and aren’t favored by the NHL at all… Nah lol 😉

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