Following the Edmonton Oilers’ 4-2 loss to the Vancouver Canucks this weekend, Oilers head coach Ken Hitchcock had some sharp words for the NHL and its officials. Specifically, he called out the officials for allowing the Canucks to maul Connor McDavid.
Hitchcock believes the league should showcase its top players, but that’s not happening due to the officials. His comments begin around the 0:53 mark.
Hitchcock may just come off as a head coach who is unhappy with some missed calls in a losing effort, but he may be making a strong overall point. In McDavid’s case, opposing teams routinely have to resort to holding / grabbing in order to slow him down. More often than not the officials allow play to continue.
The overall point Hitchcock is making about the league failing to let its best players play is a strong one. How can a skilled forward like McDavid show off his talent if he’s being stopped by illegal means? Wouldn’t the league want its skilled players to be able to display their talents for those in attendance?
This goes back to the age-old saying that fans come out to see the league’s best do their thing – not the muckers and grinders. But that proves to be difficult if the officials keep theirs whistles in their pockets.
NHL officiating has hovered between mediocre and terrible for ages. The lack of consistency from one situation to another makes it difficult for the league’s best to play at their highest level. However, some of the best games occur when the officials put their whistles away and let the players play. Unfortunately, you can’t seem to please both sides of the conversation. Keeping things consistent in one direction or another would at least add some clarity.
Should the NHL be doing more to protect its stars?