The National Hockey League is facing somewhat of a crisis as far as it's officiating is concerned and if you were one of the people, like myself, that were hoping the playoffs would help tighten things up you have thus far been sorely disappointed. The inconsistent and outright terrible officiating from the National Hockey League's officiating crews has at times had a major impact on the outcome of NHL games and as a result has resulted in outrage from both the fan bases of the team's victimized by those calls as well as from the team's themselves.
Once such team is the Boston Bruins, a team that feels that a terrible missed calls in pivotal moments of both Game 2 and Game 4 of the second round series in the 2018 Stanley Cup Playoffs may have had a drastic impact on their series, and by extension their playoff future. The players themselves have been doing a relatively fair job of towing the company line on this matter but earlier this month head coach Bruce Cassidy hinted at the frustration going on behind the scenes.
"You’d have to ask the players [how hard it is not to dwell on blown calls]," said Cassidy as per Bruins insider Joe Haggerty. "We tell them not to, but we’re human beings. It’s game after game after game. At the end of the day, you’ve got to find a way to play through it. We’re all kind of tired of talking about it. I think I heard someone say ‘suck it up and play’ and that’s what we’re trying to do. We’re trying to ‘suck it up and play.’ I thought we did a good job with that. There was no unsportsmanlike, no warnings and we just tried to keep playing. That’s that."
Cassidy isn't just some head coach going rogue either, he seemingly has the back of not only one of the most powerful members of the Bruins organization but also one of it's most famous. I'm speaking of course of former Boston Bruins player and current Bruins team president Cam Neely.
“It’s something that the league has to look at,” Neely said earlier in the week. “They have to go back and look at all the games. I know they do that after every game, but I think they really need to take a hard look at what’s happening with the refereeing.”
Like many fans in Boston and like many who have criticized the officiating in Boston's series against the Tampa Bay Lightning, Neely seemed to focus in on an awful non call in Game 4. The officials missed a blatant hold on Charlie McAvoy in the final minutes of the game, a play that would lead to a goal for the Lightning instead of a power play for the Bruins.
“I felt like we should be going back for Game 5 tied, 2-2,” said a ticked off Neely. “And that’s a whole different mindset than going down there, 3-1. You can say all you want, ‘Let’s just focus on one game.’ But as a player you really look at the big picture, and you say, ‘Man, we’ve got to win three in a row against this team.’ It’s a lot different mindset.”
“How they don’t make that call…we are up 3-2 with seven minutes to go. Now we should be going on the power play. Whether we score or not, it might chew up two minutes of the game an we have a different mindset going down to Tampa.”
The National Hockey League has come down hard on those who have dared to criticize their officials in the past, but considering just how many high profile names are speaking out this year I get the impression that teams are so frustrated at this point that they simply don't care about the consequences anymore.
Photo Credit: Eric Canha/CSM/Zuma