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Forsberg: Gold medal game officials selection’s ‘a (bleep)ing joke’

Feb 22, 2014, 9:01 AM EDT

TORONTO, CANADA - SEPT 22: Referee Kelly Sutherland #11 wears a GoPro camera during the Toronto Maple Leafs pre-season game against the Buffalo Sabres on Sept 22, 2013 at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. The Leafs defeated the Sabres 5-3. Getty Images

When Canada plays against Sweden in the gold medal game on Sunday, the contest will be officiated by three Canadian-born referees and one American who lives in Calgary.

“What a (bleep)ing joke,” retired NHL star and Swedish gold medalist Peter Forsberg said, according to the Toronto Star. He added that the Canadian-heavy referee selection was “comedy at its highest level.”

Not everyone shares his opinion on the matter though. Swedish captain Niklas Kronwall thinks the referee selection makes sense, given that the players on both sides are used to NHL referees.

In fact, the IIHF said that it was a condition of the NHL’s participation that the Olympics employ NHL officials for the big games, reports CBC’s Elliotte Friedman. The referees also had to be approved by both teams.

Even still, Forsberg isn’t the only one worried about the potential for bias. CBC’s Don Cherry thinks the referees will go to the other extreme to make it clear they’re not siding with Canada.

“It’s the biggest break (the Swedes) could have got,” said Cherry. “I guarantee you the first penalty (Canadian referee Kelly Sutherland) calls will be against a Canadian. Watch and see. And I’m never wrong.”

Update: The IIHF issued a statement to clarify their selection process for the gold medal game. Officials have been evaluated throughout the tournament and they were selected based on their previous performance. The nationalities of the officials weren’t used as factors when determining who would be assigned to the medal games.

  1. avscup - Feb 22, 2014 at 9:21 AM

    Grapes makes a great point! We’ll see if he is wrong again. Should be a great game though and hopefully the refs will not be noticed. I hope USA is watching how Sweden deals with the trap and congestion in the middle of the D zone.

    • c9castine - Feb 22, 2014 at 12:38 PM

      lol lets play the game first buddy who’s to say they can deal with it.

      babcock collected some of the world best players and THEN with the help of his captain got them to buy in to defensive hockey. gonna be hard as hell to beat.

    • kaptaanamerica - Feb 23, 2014 at 5:02 AM

      kelly sutherland is a total joke..

  2. elmerbrownelmerbrown - Feb 22, 2014 at 9:27 AM

    But what Forsberg is forgetting is the American born ref hates Crysby too !

  3. thehabsnation - Feb 22, 2014 at 10:07 AM

    Ya, whatever Forsberg take a look at the statistics….

    Sweden has had 19 powerplays and have scored 7 times with a total of 31:38 of powerplay time in the tourney so far.

    Canada has had 9 powerplays and have scored 2 times with a total of 17:13 of powerplay time.

  4. lordfletcher - Feb 22, 2014 at 10:17 AM

    The canadian refs will more than likely go out of their way to not look biased. Expect a fair match

  5. coolkidchris - Feb 22, 2014 at 10:32 AM

    “…And I’m never wrong.” I should end all of my arguments with this statement. It sure shut people up.

  6. 1943mrmojorisin1971 - Feb 22, 2014 at 11:05 AM

    Canadian refs, like the players, just happen to be the best inthe world. Guaranteed the zebras are gonna let the boys play. Can’t say that with the same confidence if Euro refs are involved. Anyone who watches the Juniors or WC knows that’s the case.

  7. stakex - Feb 22, 2014 at 12:21 PM

    The way I see it is that these refs are professionals, and I would like to believe they can ref the game impartial. I doubt there will be any obvious signs of bias one way or the other.

    With that said, are there no other NHL officials not born/living in Canada that could have worked this game? Even if the refs are capable of being impartial (and again, I think they are), wouldn’t it be best to simply avoid any such questions? Because lets face it… if Canada has a lot of power plays, and Sweden loses, there will be a lot of questions surrounding the game, and this choice. You think there would be a desire to just not go down that road.

    • dueman - Feb 22, 2014 at 12:46 PM

      To not use the better refs just to appease the minds of some conspiracy theorists, and the journalists who inspire them, would be absurd. Does anybody complain if they use two Canadian refs in a game between Calgary, and Boston? No is the answer because the refs are professionals. Forsberg should know better as what he said, and implied, is just shameful.

  8. twpguy1964 - Feb 22, 2014 at 2:05 PM

    Good job by Forsberg sticking up for his guy’s. Maybe he steals a call or two. People thinking he’s whining really don’t understand sports very well.

  9. djshnooks - Feb 22, 2014 at 4:33 PM

    Canada wins gold now, no chance for Sweden…even Russia wants Canada.

  10. hazlydose - Feb 22, 2014 at 6:09 PM

    We’ll know if the refs are biased towards Canada early on. If Kunitz gets a misconduct on his first shift, they are definitely biased in favor of Canada.

  11. bobby256 - Feb 22, 2014 at 7:18 PM

    Having lived in Sweden for a few years, I can see that the context of Forsberg’s comments is not very visible here on the North American side of the world.

    To put Forsberg’s comments into context…

    Forsberg, as well as most hockey fans in Sweden, remember Rob Niedermayer’s brutal check from behind at the World Championships in Prague in 2004. The Swedes had scored two goals in the first seven minutes of the game and Niedermayer of Canada brutally hit Forsberg from behind crushing his face into the top of the boards in front of the Canada bench.

    Most observers felt it should have been a match penalty. However Niedermayer was given a 2 minute checking from behind penalty and a 10 minute misconduct.

    Niedermayer was allowed to stay in the game and returned in the second period to score the game tying goal.

    Canada went on to take gold, Sweden took silver.

    If Forsberg has any lingering distaste for decisions favoring Canada, this backstory may help explain some of that.

    • kaptaanamerica - Feb 23, 2014 at 5:16 AM

      not surprised Sweden got screwed over..

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