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Cup finals questions: Will the officiating stay front and center?

Jun 10, 2013, 7:44 PM EDT

Jonathan Toews, Stephen Walkom AP

To say it’s been a tricky playoffs for the officials would be putting it politely.

In just about every series there’s been some kind of gripe about a blown or missed call and worries over referees putting their whistles away so the players can “settle things themselves” have caused more than a few grumbles. With a seemingly different set of standards in the postseason, complaints have been plentiful and in some cases for good reason.

The question for the Stanley Cup finals now is whether or not the officials will continue to steal headlines? Both teams and the league would prefer they not do that.

Take a look through these playoffs and you’ll see a laundry list of players who had gripes about officiating and we’re not just talking about regular schmoe defensemen here. Sidney Crosby spoke his mind. Jonathan Toews was more than open about his thoughts on calls. Alex Ovechkin went as far as suggesting there was a conspiracy, something the Caps GM basically agreed with.

With this many high-profile players and executives speaking their mind, either they’re all big crybabies or there’s a definite problem. The Toronto Star’s Damien Cox opined today saying the finals would make for a good time for the league and its officials to reestablish what the correct way to call a game would be. With everyone turning their attention to the finals, it might be a good way to restore order.

Officiating is a “damned if you do, damned if you don’t” kind of profession. Make too many calls and people complain they’re ruining the game. Too few and they’re letting it get away from them.

The only thing we know for sure is that whatever level officiating is at now isn’t meeting many fans’ approval and any blown calls in the finals are going to be put under the microscope. The less we notice the officials, the better and the league would sure love it. Here’s to hoping a game isn’t won or lost because of a bad or missed call.

For more 2013 Cup finals questions, click here.


  1. steelers88 - Jun 10, 2013 at 7:52 PM

    I think so in the games I have watched in the playoffs I’ve seen some questionable calls.

  2. bman7206 - Jun 10, 2013 at 8:05 PM

    Can Toews stop crying? That’s a better question…

    • tlndma - Jun 11, 2013 at 8:51 AM

      When I hear Toews complain about the game 5 winner the Hawks got in OT, I’ll start listening to player gripes. When was the last time you watched a game and thought every call was correct? With the players taking the rules right to the edge, in the playoffs, of course not everyone is happy.

  3. polegojim - Jun 10, 2013 at 8:16 PM

    Let them PLAY…

    Keep the questionable calls… fair and even.

    Last thing I want to watch is a ticky-tacky, closely ‘managed’ Cup Finals by the officials.

    Let them PLAY!

  4. acieu - Jun 10, 2013 at 8:23 PM

    The crying and moaning should decrease as Crosby is out of the games.

    • bigoldorcafromvan - Jun 10, 2013 at 10:08 PM

      Nahhh the whining will still be there, Toews is still playing and he is a bigger whiner than Crosby. Hope Boston smothers the Squaks.

      • jrhawk - Jun 11, 2013 at 9:11 AM

        Be honest. You really like Toews, don’t you?

      • comeonnowguys - Jun 11, 2013 at 10:42 AM

        No, he’s just a Vancouver fan whose posterior is in pain.

      • bigoldorcafromvan - Jun 11, 2013 at 1:11 PM

        jrhawk. actually I like a lot of the Squawks the whole team is a great team but I hate them as a team. Refere Toews. Diver Hossa Predator Keith, Beaking Bolland should I go on?. Boston for the Cup. and yes I am a Canuck Fan also an Oiler Fan.

    • greenmtnboy31 - Jun 11, 2013 at 8:48 AM

      As long as Clod Julie-Ann, the biggest hypocrite crybaby in the NHL still has an opportunity, the whining will only increase.

      • lordstanley65 - Jun 11, 2013 at 9:25 AM

        Shut it, Habs. Try coming up with a relevant take instead of making up stupid knicknames . My six year old does that.

      • nosefacekillah - Jun 11, 2013 at 9:42 AM

        Funniest thing about this video is that was put together by a loser Canucks fan (are there any other types?)

        The ‘nucks are still trying to get over Thomas not pumping Lou’s tires. The sisters are nearing retirement and rafters in Vancouver hang empty.


  5. revansrevenant - Jun 10, 2013 at 8:45 PM

    Call the game tight in the first two periods, start putting the whistles away in the third, and keep the whistles in the pockets during OT. That’s how a hockey game should be called.

    • hawkeedawg - Jun 11, 2013 at 12:29 AM

      Wrong, wrong, wrong!!! A penalty in the first is a penalty in OT. Boston won their series on a non-call hooking. They would have won the series anyway, but hooking in the first is hooking in OT

      How the hell are the players supposed to know what to do if the officials change as the games go on?

      • nosefacekillah - Jun 11, 2013 at 9:48 AM

        There were many non-calls in the OT pitt-bos game. Jagr “hook” on Malkin was never going to be called. Lucic was pulled down from behind in the offensive zone with no call. This was a clearer penalty that neutralized an offensive chance. Malkin coughing up the puck at center ice negated no offense and if Orpik simply prevents Bergeron from winning the stick position the game continues. Orpik is the real goat on that play.

      • stoopidfool - Jun 11, 2013 at 12:41 PM

        the first penalty was malkin’s elbow to jagr’s head………the right playerr wound up with the puck

        stop whining

    • jrhawk - Jun 11, 2013 at 9:13 AM

      Did I just read what I thought I did??? Holy sh*t!!! Whatta dumbass!!!

  6. greenmtnboy31 - Jun 10, 2013 at 8:52 PM

    “With this many high-profile players and executives speaking their mind, either they’re all big crybabies or there’s a definite problem.”

    There’s a definite problem. The officiating needs to improve, a lot!!

  7. stakex - Jun 10, 2013 at 8:56 PM

    There are two sides (and problems) here.

    First of all, both players and fans have been very whiny this year. Everyone seems to blame the refs when their team loses, and its getting worse and worse every year. A few years ago, everyone accepted that the whistles went away in the 3rd period. If something that otherwise would have been an obvious penalty led to a goal, no one whined. They knew damn well it could have just as easily favored their team. Todays players/fans forget that last part, and on the flip side would (and have) be screaming if their team was called for a penalty late in an important playoff game.

    On the other hand, the refs do at times seem to play too large of a role in the outcome of games. When whistles go away evenly… its fine. However that’s not always the case, and it just always seems that a team that’s trailing in a series gets a lot of favorable, and even at times phantom, calls. Perhaps that’s just what happens when a team on the brink pushes hard, or perhaps it has something to do with longer series meaning more $$$ for the NHL.

    So on one side people need to stop whining so long as the calls are even, and the NHL should really do more to make sure the calls are in fact even.

  8. alexbaymac - Jun 10, 2013 at 9:28 PM

    I know I’m being picky, Joe but….there’s no ‘S’ in Stanley Cup Final. Well, except for the one in ‘Stanley’….
    Add me to the whiny group, I guess! 😉

  9. kmacle - Jun 10, 2013 at 10:36 PM

    A Prayer for the Finals

    Lord Stanley, who gave us his cup
    honored is your legacy;
    your trophy to be won,
    by those most deserving,
    on the ice and not on paper.
    Give us a great series,
    and let’s skip the petty calls,
    on our rivals as well as our own;
    and lead us not into penalty box
    and deliver us from whistling zebras

  10. joeyg88 - Jun 10, 2013 at 11:03 PM

    Just keep the refs off the ice for the finals. Should be like nhl hitz 2003

  11. nyrnashty - Jun 10, 2013 at 11:48 PM

    You have to be a great 5-5 team in the playoffs to win the cup. PP’s in the playoffs are not going to come like they do in the regular season they never have never will and that’s because the PP shouldn’t decide a cup winner. Look at Boston in 2010 I think that was the worst PP in playoff history what happened? Who the hell wants to watch teams getting 6 plus pp’s a game and seeing them come from NBA style calls? I think the officiating has been amazing way better than the regular season when you see refs calling penalties for no reason, at least not in this sport. If fans want pp’s they really don’t know what they’re talking about and their teams are garbage for having to rely on them.

    • hawkeedawg - Jun 11, 2013 at 12:26 AM

      Not sure what you have been watching because you are so off base here it is hilarious. “Officiating has been amazing…”

      What ever drugs you are taking, next time just take half.

    • cadlow - Jun 11, 2013 at 6:44 AM

      Who? Penguin fans…thats who? they are a team built for the man advantage. so take away the PP and they are an average team at best.

  12. nyrnashty - Jun 10, 2013 at 11:51 PM

    And the players wanting them is a disgrace win it 5-5!

  13. cspsrbums - Jun 11, 2013 at 12:32 AM

    Of course the officiating has been amazing coming from a Rangers fan. The team the Refs pushed all the way threw the playoffs Dude are kidding me what a joke.

    • thesableo - Jun 11, 2013 at 1:13 PM

      “All the way through” to the second round.

  14. cspsrbums - Jun 11, 2013 at 12:34 AM

    Oh I don’t think the players want them, But they also don’t want one team with all of them. Even if they do suck on the pp.

  15. cadlow - Jun 11, 2013 at 6:53 AM

    I think its simple. Don’t call the ticky tack holding and interference calls. You know the ones they show on replay that everyone says, “Hmmm that was a penalty”. Call the “dangerous” plays, other than that I hope to hear NO whistles during the finals.

    • comeonnowguys - Jun 11, 2013 at 8:51 AM

      No, I’d like to see actual interference called. By actual, I don’t mean the one where the guy feels the stick, drops to a knee, and gets a free power play. But legitimate interference, I’m totally fine with.

      And stop the BS early.

      • thesableo - Jun 11, 2013 at 1:15 PM

        And maybe actually call penalties on those guys that drop like they were shot as soon as they feel a stick.
        I HATE it when my team dives, but they do it because it works. If it stops working, they stop doing it.

    • hockeydon10 - Jun 11, 2013 at 11:56 AM

      That’s exactly the attitude that got us the dead puck era before the ’04 lockout. They didn’t penalize what you’re calling “ticky tack” hooking, holding and interference.

      Is that really what you want back?

  16. dchambers144 - Jun 11, 2013 at 8:33 AM

    Crosby takes a lot of crap for being a whiner, but what he said was 100% accurate from most rational players and fans perspective. If the refs are consistent, players and fans know what is a penalty and what is not. That’s what he compained about; not specific calls.

    • thesableo - Jun 11, 2013 at 1:21 PM

      It’s definitely inconsistent, but if reffing is totally arbitrary (which it seems to be) then it screws everyone equally. Crosby’s whining gives the impression that he thinks it goes against him specifically more than it should.
      After all, inconsistency can just be a codeword for “it gets called on me and not them”.

  17. ballistictrajectory - Jun 11, 2013 at 12:17 PM

    There’s the spirit of the law and the letter of the law.

    If an official wishes to call a hard line on the letter of the law then he could be considered a strict enforcer. Another official may elect to call based on the spirit of the rule, basing his call on the fact that while the letter of the rule may have been violated the rule was not broken in it’s intent. This person could be considered a lax enforcer.

    Let the officials declare whether they are lax or strict and then evaluate their calls based on that declaration. The players will then know when the game starts what they’re up against.

    An example of interpretation of the rules:

    All season long I’ve watched players for ALL teams propel the puck from their own side of the red line into their opponent’s end and the icing has been waived because the player’s “follow-through” was over the center line. The relevant portion of Rule 81 is posted below and NOWHERE in Rule 81 does it allow for “follow-through”. In fact it is quite specific (see “Gaining the line”) as to where the puck must be before icing is nullified.

    I don’t have a problem with allowing the follow-through, but it should be codified in the rule, and not left up to the linesman’s imagination as to forward progress of the puck when it left the surface of the stick.

    Rule 81 – Icing
    81.1 Icing – For the purpose of this rule, the center red line will divide the
    ice into halves. Should any player of a team, equal or superior in
    numerical strength (power-play) to the opposing team, shoot, bat or
    deflect the puck from his own half of the ice beyond the goal line of
    the opposing team, play shall be stopped. For the purpose of
    deflected pucks, this only applies when the puck was originally
    propelled down the ice by the offending team.
    For the purpose of this rule, the point of last contact with the puck
    by the team in possession shall be used to determine whether icing
    has occurred or not. As such, the team in possession must “gain the
    line” in order for the icing to be nullified. “Gaining the line” shall mean
    that the puck, while on the player’s stick (not the player’s skate) must
    make contact with the center red line in order to nullify a potential

    • thesableo - Jun 11, 2013 at 1:23 PM


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