clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Tuesdays With Hildy: The Great Ref Conspiracy

I've never been a fan of NHL officiating. You can say as much as you want that hockey's a high speed sport and that you can't possibly catch everything. While that's true, the things that you do see could at least me consistently called. Interference called on Matt D'Agostini last night apparently looked different than a Stars player interfering with T.J. Oshie (NBC tried to state that the ref's back was turned, but the replay I saw showed the ref looking in that general direction the whole time). Phantom calls like the extra two on Scott Nichol after his fight were a bit odd. On top of that, you have what appear to be great discrepancies in the number of penalties called between the Blues and their opponents. It's enough to give a conspiracy theorist a happy.

While the Blues' fan base doesn't have a Smoking Man (though we do have a Towel Boy) who thinks everything is just a great conspiracy because Gary Bettman hates us, people do wonder what's up with the calls. Sometimes that's legit, sometimes no. A good example of legit was the game that Ian Cole got called for a hit to the head of Justin Abdelkader while Pavel Datsyuk got nothing for an elbow to the face of Barret Jackman.

Honestly, I wish I could go through and cite every occurrence of things that've drawn the ire of fans, but I realize that it's probably in the site's best interest to keep this short. I'll just highlight David Backes' hit on Alexandre Burrows the other night (via spectr17):

People were upset about the boarding penalty called. I wasn't thrilled either, but not because there was a penalty, but because Backes put himself in a situation where a penalty could be called on him. You can't do that so close to overtime -- it's really a poorly advised idea to do that period -- and Backes probably could have approached the hit differently. Whether or not Backes intended that to be a board, it doesn't matter. The only intent refs care about is the one to blow.

Is this, and other questionable calls, evidence of the fact that the league wants the Blues to fail? That they favor other teams? While there's no doubt that some teams bring in the dough more than others -- Detroit, Pittsburgh, Vancouver, and Boston come to mind -- is there really a guy on high telling the refs that they need to throw the game in favor of those teams, and that's why they don't get the stuff called on them? Or is there a tendency for other teams to not put themselves in a situation where that penalty can be called in the first place? Reputation plays a lot into the refs: if you constantly put yourself out there as a team who plays on the edge, you're going to get stuff called on you.

What do you guys think? Does the NHL (and Brad Lee) hate the Blues, or do we need to start playing with a smarter edge?