I had planned to write a blog on the first two games of the playoffs but it was all overshadowed by the poor officiating in both games more specifically in last night’s game two. Last night’s game was a disgrace, not because of the result for the Maple Leafs but because the referees allowed the game to become a street fight with spats of real hockey.
I have always held this long-standing belief that if the referees decide early to “put the whistles” away then what you get is the result we saw last night. It no longer matters who was worse or who was first to play dirty all that becomes irrelevant when the people hired and who’s only job is to control this crap don’t do their jobs.
The first sign that the game was going off the rails was when the refs needed to warn both teams, then punished them with penalties if things didn’t go back to resembling a hockey game. You take these actions swiftly and harshly, and then the game is more controlled as no player/team would want to be the next to go down a man.
It is way too late by the third period as the tension in game and the dirty play has ramped up even further to get a hold of it. You can’t simply put the whistles away when the game means so much to both teams, when emotions are rising. If the players can’t trust the referees to protect them or their teammates then you get what happened last night and players take it into their own hands.
Now there is talk of Kadri being suspended, how can you suspend a player who was acting no worse then anyone else on the ice last night? Suspending a player who was playing within the “rules” or lack thereof last night is simply infuriating. If the referees can put away their whistles, the NHL player’s Safety department can also put away their suspensions.
How are Kadri’s actions any more punishable than DeBrusk’s knee to knee hit, or grinding Marleau into the corner of the glass or even some of Marchant’s antics at times this season. If the referees are going to give up any control over what is happening in real-time during the game, then the NHL and Player Safety need to put their punishments away post game. It comes across as disingenuous when we get the speech from the league and Parros that player safety is paramount when games are allowed to go down like they did last night.
I am tired and frustrated by all the reactionary things the NHL does after a game like last night, Couldn’t the league have called the referees in the first intermission or had someone speak to them to get the game under control?
It shouldn’t be a player being suspended for their actions in a game like last night, but the referees who allowed the game to spiral out of control. The referees last night need to face tough questions about their lack of control over a game like last night, the referees need to be held accountable much like the players when things go off the rails.
So here we are again, Kadri facing suspension with some talk of it being between 3-5 games for the cross check. Yet the referees will continue to referee and DeBrusk won’t face any punishment for his actions. This is where it is a complete joke, suspend Kadri fine but suspend the referees and DeBrusk as well. You either punish everyone or no one at all, because this one-way punishment will only lead to more of what happened last night. One team now knows nothing it does is punishable and you have a team on the other side who is frustrated with not only losing the game last night but also losing one of their top players to suspension. What can possibly go wrong with this scenario?
The NHL better be having some tough conversations with all the parties involved in last night’s game. If not, there will be further injury and further controversy which doesn’t sell the game in its most important time of the year.
So here is to hoping the league gets things under control, so we can get back to talking about hockey and not something worse in the way of a serious injury to one of the players.