Time for refereeing accountability in the NHL

NHL general managers are meeting in Florida this week to make their annual assessment of the game. One thing fans have been asking and advocating for years is some form of accountability for refereeing decisions in NHL games, via post-game officiating reports or one of the referees being made available to the media after the buzzer, similar to coaches' press conferences.

Video Transcript

SAM CHANG: My major change in the NHL is referee accountability.

OMAR: Yes.

SAM CHANG: There needs to be either--


SAM CHANG: --game reports or you need to make one of the refs available after the game for press conferences.

OMAR: Yeah, it's-- we-- there have-- Especially because the impetus and the line every time is that refs don't want to impact the game but they impact the game every single time and it just gets worse and it gets worse and it gets worse and it gets worse. And when you have like multiple calls or lack of calls that directly impact games, there's no one to answer for it. All you just have is a bunch of Twitter fights of people saying, OK, well the ref didn't see this, or the ref didn't see this, or this is what they saw, or whatever or whatever, or we're taking into account player history or whatever.

It's way too much of a mixed bag. And I think especially now, we have to get to a point where it's just like, maybe you don't have to explain why you called just, what did you see? What did you see? Why?

You made that call. What did you see? Right? And instead of all this guessing game.

And that's what sucks now is just there's no way to tell the rules because everything is just guessing. What's goalie interference? I don't know. Oh, oh, this might be offside.

Have you ever been watching a game and they're like, oh, this is going to be offside. And then they look at the replay and it's just like a 20-frame per second like clip. And it's like, what are you even looking for? What are we even looking at?


OMAR: Yeah, go.

AVRY LEWIS-MCDOUGALL: I was going to mention too, like other leagues have reports. You have the 2-minute report in the NBA. MLS has a report with officials and they're the great example. We just [INAUDIBLE].

I remember 12, 13, 14 years ago I think it was, it was [INAUDIBLE] Dallas game where the Oilers lost on a call. The Oilers tied the game up. Gold got waved off due to a hand pass by, I think it was Ales Hemsky.

There was no hand pass. The official who called a hand pass on Hemsky was literally 40 feet from Hemsky and called a hand pass. I would have loved the official to explain why did you call a hand pass when you didn't have a clear view of the face off?

JULIAN MCKENZIE: Mm-hmm. Every referee should have an AMA on Reddit every month.


SAM CHANG: I really hate the line, they don't want to impact the game. That's such a stupid statement. Even if you made all the right calls, you are impacting the game. That is literally your role. The only way you would not impact the game is if we took referees out entirely.

OMAR: Honestly. And obviously, I don't think it's going to solve every single problem, but I think when it comes to the way that we talk about officiating, I think it could have an unintended impact of maybe, I don't know, having a level of understanding a little bit. Like yeah, the broadcasters say it all the time, like, oh, well at home you have the benefit of replay and you can pause things and go back and look at things but refs don't.

It's like, OK, then tell us what they're seeing because the only thing we can we can focus on is what we are watching on our screens. And when you see someone, a player just tap their legs and then they fricking pretend like they're Bambi and they fall over, or when a blatant interference is just missed, or where you let things go for 45 seconds and then call both players afterwards for offsetting minors, it doesn't make any sense. So it's just like, just give us give the fans some flipping clarity and I think it'd be I think it would go a long way. But they're never going to do that because they think the media is going to take opportunities to rip into them or whatever. But I don't know, I think that's a great idea and I think if they ended up doing that, that'd be a great way to just make the game less complicated.

JULIAN MCKENZIE: Yeah, as complicated as it is. Look, just we just need better-- And I understand that officiating and refereeing it's so hard to do, but I think to your point, yeah, if we were able to have some kind of line of communication it's going be a lot better for watchers of the game, for players of the game.