About Last Night – Referees Ruin Lafleur Tribute Night

By JD Lagrange – The Montreal Canadiens outdid themselves last night once again, with their tribute to late Guy Lafleur. 21,000 plus at the Bell Centre, and millions on television, watched a beautiful and well presented video of Lafleur, summing his illustrious career. The crowd gave the Canadiens’ legend a 10 minute standing ovation, which PA announcer Michel Lacroix tried to interrupt in a couple of occasions, only to be interrupted himself by the fans who cheered even louder.

Unfortunately, that special evening was completely ruined by some of the worst officiating we were given to see this season. Penalties called that shouldn’t have been, infractions gone unnoticed at key times in the game, fans took on social media to talk about that aspect of the game as much as they did about the tribute to Lafleur or the game itself.

Gary Bettman can put his head in the sand and claim that the NHL has the best referees in the world, no one following the NHL believes him. We all know it’s a lie. In fact, many of us think that it is the most inconsistent and mind boggling group of referees or umpires in North-American pro sports.

And it all started getting worse when the league decided, in their wisdom, to double the number of referees. Prior to that, the NHL relied on a single official wearing the red armbands. Did they miss a few calls? Yes, they did. But players and fans knew what to expect for the entire night just by seeing who was officiating the game. You had some kind of consistency. Plus, those were the best officials available.

As if league over-expansion wasn’t enough to dilute the talent on the ice, it created more demand for referees as more games were being played. Right there, you had to promote guys who would have normally been in the AHL. Going to two referees is beyond stupid… it’s Bettman stupid.

For one, it basically means that you took all AHL referees and brought them to the NHL. For one, none of them were ready for that pace of hockey and those who had the potential, simply weren’t ready for it. Like players, referees need time to develop, to practice their craft at lower levels. Throwing them at the NHL only serves their wallets with bigger pay, and their immense egos.

Then, it added a second judgement to the ice. How many times have we seen a referee, with the play a few feet in front of him, judge that a play wasn’t an infraction, only to see the bozo at 100 feet away raise his arm to call a penalty on the same play?

Fans, players and coaches are frustrated. And you know it’s not going to get any better as the man at the top is so delusional and out of touch with reality, he even thinks the on-ice officials are good! So we will keep seeing men in stripes ruining the game for fans and players alike. The Board of Governors is not going to step on their pride and return to the one-referee system. They will keep ruining amazing nights like the one last night, as a big f-you to the face of those forking the bill: the fans.

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