NHL: Controversial Decisions Really Frustrating

NHL: Controversial Decisions Really Frustrating
NHL: Controversial Decisions Really Frustrating

The Stanley Cup series are filled with emotion and offer tough play, but certain controversial decisions by referees remain surprising and infuriating in the eyes of the main players in the games.

What makes the playoffs fun to watch is the raw emotions; players feel pressure and want to win. However, there are always big debates about specific sequences, for example, whether a particular goal is valid or not. We saw it in the Boston-Florida series, when the officials allowed a goal to Sam Bennett who tied the game during the fourth game.

I completely understand the dismay of Bruins head coach Jim Montgomery, especially since his team was well positioned to win. I was convinced that there was no goal on this play due to the obstruction on goalie Jeremy Swayman and if I had been in his place, I would have made the same decision as the instructor in contesting the verdict. The latter gave the Panthers victory in the end and a more comfortable cushion in the series.

Then, another case occurred when Paul Maurice lost his “challenge” in the second period of the fifth game, Tuesday, on Charlie McAvoy’s net. The National League would have been placed in a difficult position if Florida had won again here.

Don’t get me wrong: I don’t want to criticize the referees. The game moves quickly and continual adjustments are necessary. However, they are human beings and can be influenced. They’re trying to balance things out. It’s not easy at all. I know, because I’ve been there; people in their living rooms don’t necessarily realize it. There are constant behind-the-scenes games with general managers and coaches. They meet almost daily with the officials’ supervisors and take the opportunity to express their frustration.

Still and always

Controversies arise with judging, interpretation of games and, in this sense, hockey is unique. It’s not like in other sports, like baseball, where a catch is a catch. It goes very quickly and a questionable decision generates frustration depending on the score and the moment of the match. And that doesn’t change despite the years that pass.

Among the cases that I experienced, there is that of the 2013 playoffs, when I managed the Canadian. In the fourth game of the series against the Senators, a faceoff was taken to the right of the goalie, even though the opposing player (it was Daniel Alfredsson) had previously shot to the left. The linesman had changed the side of the faceoff and I didn’t have the right players on the ice; Ottawa scored thanks to Mika Zibanejad and ultimately won that game, as well as the series. Let’s just say I was beside myself, I wanted to destroy everything!

Controversial decisions in hockey will remain a hot topic. Moreover, 37 years later, we are still talking about the famous goal denied to Alain Côté in the fifth game of the Canadiens-Nordiques series in 1987.

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