I watched a fair bit of the Ottawa-Los Angeles game tonight and two things are worth noting.
1. I can’t believe how the Ottawa announcers (and fans) have changed their tune since 2003-04 and earlier. Back then the Leafs were the dirty, goon team who had to fight to win. They were a disgrace to hockey and the Maple Leafs, particular Domi and Tucker, should be ashamed. They were a black eye on the game of hockey. Tonight the Ottawa Senators initiate several fights and they the announcers are all but cheering them on saying it is so great to see the Senators stand up for themselves and their team mates. McGratton, who wouldn’t be in the NHL (and maybe not the AHL) if he couldn’t fight actually didn’t get in a fight but wanted attempted to instigate one on at least 2 occassions. Chara instigated a fight with Gleason with 3 and a half minutes left in the game and will get an automatic 1 game suspension (and coach Murray fined $10,000) because of it and Hasek showed again that he can let his emotions get the better of him overreacting to a play which Avery was attempting to knock a loose puck into the net.
2. The referreeing what horrible tonight. Here are a few examples.
(a) Sean Avery gets a game misconduct for not having his tie down propery secured. The rule clearly states that this penalty is only to be applied when a player participates in a fight. There was no fight. If there were a fight, McGratton would have gotten an instigator and in that case the rule doesn’t apply either. The referees were clearly targeting Avery to get him out of the game but he didn’t do anything to deserve it. Yeah, Avery can be a jerk at times and he has said some pretty stupid things but for the most part tonight he was just playing the game and playing it hard. Unfortunately the referees targeted him and did everything they could to get him out of the game. It’s a shame.
From the NHL rulebook:
A player who engages in fisticuffs and whose sweater is not properly “tied-down” (sweater properly fastened to pants), and who loses his sweater (completely off his torso) in that altercation, shall receive a game misconduct.
A player who is involved in an altercation, when the opponent has been identified as an instigator, shall not be assessed a game misconduct if his sweater should be removed by an opponent or an Official in the discharge of his duties.
(b) Craig Conroy gets an interference witht he goalie penalty. This was rediculous. The only penalty that deserved to be given on that play was to Heatley who had his stick in front of Conroy’s feed, then pushed Conroy from behind causing Conroy to trip over Heatley’s stick which in turn resulted in Conroys skate coming up and hitting Hasek in the side of the head. The worse thing is the video shows the referee looking right at the incident when it happened.
These are just two examples of many. As a hockey fan, it really is sad to see how horrible the refereeing has been this year. Every game you can point out several calls or non calls. Chintzy hooks or holds get called while more obvious ones don’t. It’s sad because the new rules have opened up the game and made it more exciting on many levels but when games get decided by bad refereeing it really frustrates me as a fan.