NHL officiating is a widely scrutinized topic and that probably won’t ever change. Each year, hockey fans blast the league’s officiating on social media, expressing their outrage over missed calls and questionable decisions.

The outcries against NHL officiating seems to be louder this year, but is that because the officiating has really been that bad? Has this really been the worst year ever, or is something else at play?

Let’s ask some of The Comeback’s resident hockey fans.

Matt Lichtenstadter

NHL officiating is always pretty bad, but in these playoffs it seems more obvious than ever. The multiple bad goaltender interference calls in Round 1 that screwed over Chicago and Boston were pretty poor, but then again no one has any clue what goaltender interference is. It doesn’t seem any worse than it usually is because the standard is already set pretty low (Vincent Trocheck was tripped, for instance), but maybe because some of the bad calls have come in such big spots it has magnified the problems in a way that hasn’t manifested itself recently.

John Coppinger

I think the refereeing is worse in the way that the rules are ever evolving in terms of when to call a penalty and when not to call a penalty. In some respects, it isn’t the fault of the refs. Take the Rick Nash non-call in Game 2 against Ottawa. Black & white, that’s two minutes for a high stick. But now referees are wondering if it was a follow through for a shot or a pass. Nuances to the rules make the refs think too much.

But in certain ways, I think we’re just noticing the refereeing more. For as long as I can remember, refs put their whistles away in the third period, and in the playoffs. We’re just noticing it more now. Every time there’s a non call in the playoffs, there are gifs and videos that pop up on top of your twitter timeline immediately. It’s no different than when refs swallowed their whistles in the 80’s, but we’re seeing how ridiculous this practice is with more immediacy.

Sam Blazer

Overall, NHL officiating sucks. It’s become almost a hack to say that the officiating stinks, but it is true. The rule book isn’t supposed to be thrown out the window. It isn’t just in the playoffs either. During the regular season it is terrible as well. No one knows what a penalty looks like and they are continuously afraid to call certain things. However, if the rule book was called as it’s written, then teams would continuously be on the power play. Where is the middle ground on this? It’s probably robots. The statement may seem like a joke, but having some sort of more automated process would help. The league has a problem and doesn’t have a clue how to deal with it.

David Rogers

Officiating in the NHL is bad. Is this year the worst ever? Hardly, but fans have zeroed in on a very real problem in the NHL that is showing no signs of improving. Playoff hockey is awesome, but it’s unfortunate that it’s often policed by an inconsistent set of rules between each game and even each period. It’s insane that the officials will “put their whistles away” and all of sudden nothing is a penalty. Then, without warning, a player is sent off for a relatively innocent cross-check. It’s infuriating.

Consistency is the key to eliminated a lot of that frustration, but first the NHL needs to admit it has a problem.

About David Rogers

Editor for The Comeback and Contributing Editor for Awful Announcing. Lover of hockey, soccer and all things pop culture.

  • Trevor Sabatine

    I think the referees have been told to be biased this year. Look at the Boston vs Ottawa series with obvious goalie interference calls, offside goals, Ryan’s high hit on Riley Nash(Not Rick like stated in this article). Ryan had lost his stick before the hit, Nash was on his knees and he blatantly drove his head into the boards, this hit in the final 2mins of a game is supposed to be automatic kick and miss of the next game, games Ryan scored to win both. This reminded me very much of the Gretzky Gilmore incident. Game 4 of the Edmonton series the Ducks first 2 goals should have been disallowed. Washington was given a free run at Toronto and the refs only went after Toronto, same as the Penguins series, Ovie should be suspended a la Mcsorley Brashear head slash, except Ovie hit him twice… You must remember this is a business and it is made to make the NHL money, the refs’ are paid by the NHL so its only common sense that the refs’ would do what the league tells them as it always in your best interest to do what your employers tell you.