Hockey From The Blind Side, Calling A Spade A Spade, Crappy, Inexcusable Officiating
By John Panarese
There are countless disadvantages to being blind. Without a doubt, from life experience, I can testify to this in many instances.
Additionally, being blind, one does miss a lot in every day life as well. In a sport, like hockey, which can be quite visual, I will readily admit that I have to rely on the descriptions and information given to me by others. There is simply no way around that reality for me.
Nevertheless, with all of that said, sometimes, you don’t need to see or have sight to know what is going on. The obvious can plainly be just that to even a blind person. There is no heightened senses or special intuition even required at times.
I have been around the game of hockey for so long that I can figure out elements of a game or even how specific plays in a game unfolded just because I have come to know the sport so well. There is no interpretation or explanation needed in these instances. Experience and familiarity tell me all I need to know, and I can come to my own conclusions without the help from anyone else’s eyes.
Officiating is not an easy task in a game like hockey. The game moves fast and furiously, and even the eyes of two referees is sometimes not enough to catch everything. On top of that, if you bring in the human factor of discretion, how a call or a missed call can be interpreted can be left up to debate and endless discussion. Things just often happen too quickly, and the literal blink of an eye can result in missing what seems utterly obvious to a fan watching the game.
Like Gary, I try to be as objective as possible when it comes to officiating in the NHL. It is not an easy job, and if I had my sight, I would not want to fill the shoes of any of those guys for an evening. The officials are often vilified and criticized on any given night, and they can never please either team playing in a game they are officiating. It’s simply a lose/lose situation in many instances.
Islander fans, as a breed, have often felt like our team is typically on the dirty end of the stick when it comes to officiated games. As an outsider or a fan of another team, one might be tempted to consider the griping and complaining in a dismissive manner. Sometimes, I will confess that the “whining” and “belly aching” even gets to me. Take any game played in the NHL, and you undoubtedly will be able to find a missed call or a bad call, or some example of a “wrong” being committed by a referee or linesman.
I am a firm believer in the philosophy that good teams can play through bad officiating. If you are a good team, an off night by the officials should be something you can overcome. I have witnessed this countless times, and I try not to “blame” officiating for a loss when one can find obvious other reasons that were the underlying causes for a loss, such as bad goals, bad defense or missed scoring chances. It can be too easy to point to missed calls or bad calls and claim that they resulted in your team losing a game. Yes, there are certainly situations where this can be proven to be true, but I personally don’t like to put the blame squarely on the zebra stripes for an Islander loss, unless it is a glaringly obvious situation.
The back to back games were disgustingly glaring examples of this case. I don’t even think, “horrendous” can describe the lack of officiating that occurred. Particularly in Tuesday night’s overtime loss, the NHL should be embarrassed and mortified by the pathetically disgraceful display of “professional” officiating that we observed. It is one thing to miss a call here and there, but that was Absolutely an atrocity as far as I am concerned.
I’m not going to bother to list the several calls that were ignored by the officials in Tuesday night’s game. One can do a youtube search, and read the countless words that have been written about them on the net. From Matt Martin being sucker punched to Matt Moulson being taken down in overtime, words cannot describe the degree of anger and disgust that welled up in me at times. I don’t know if anything short of attempted murder would have been given a penalty to a Toronto player, to be honest. As Gary indicated, there were NO penalties to the Maple Leafs, and there EASILY could have been a half dozen.
Is it a lack of respect? Is it because it was the Islanders? Are we just supposed to accept that as just “an off night” by the officials? Should this be tolerated?
I am left with so many questions, and to be honest, my anger is still burning away in me. I don’t understand at all how that kind of game could be played in the “modern” NHL, let alone, ANY time period in the league’s existence. I am all for letting the boys play and I prefer physical games in which both teams are given a little slack. However, Monday and Tuesday were examples of games that leaves me wanting to say so many different things about the officiating and the league in general that are best not written on a public blog.
I can only hope that Garth Snow has made some kind of effort to contact the league. The Islanders seem to take the blatant lack of respect by the NHL in stride and seem to prefer not commenting on issues or saying very little about them. This, though, is a moment in which some sort of formal protest along official lines should be considered. It is just getting to the point of ridiculousness, to be honest. One can make excuses and come up with a variety of “reasons” why we, as Islander fans, seem to think our team gets screwed on any given night, but the body of evidence was surely highlighted in one game on Tuesday. Let’s face it. If Moulson hadn’t been taken down in the offensive end, the winning goal would not have been scored by the Leafs.
I’d find it difficult to believe that any, non-bias hockey fan could watch Tuesday night’s game and NOT find themselves perplexed and stupefied by the officiating, or, more accurately, the Lack of officiating in the game. It just defies the description of words. I really can’t remember a game being so badly officiated in the thirty-five plus years that I have been around the sport of hockey and as an Islander fan. I’m sure that others can come up with examples, but I would still assert that Tuesday night was among the worst.
Were there fluky goals on both sides? Did the Isles not play well at times? Could they have overcome the score with a bit more good luck (PA Parenteau’s goal was the only example of some justice in the game)? Yes, is the answer to all of those questions, but with all of that aside, one cannot dismiss the officiating factor as a primary and MAJOR reason for the Islanders losing the game on Tuesday. How many calls did not go penalized and how that would have translated into Islander power plays is only the start. In that case, there is no way around the fact that the officials can be directly linked to the outcome of a hockey game.
As I said above, Garth Snow cannot let this pass without some kind of action. This is simply not acceptable. Maybe I am just getting thoroughly sick of my team constantly being dumped on and being disrespected at every turn. Nevertheless, Tuesday night was a complete embarrassment and disgrace from the perspective of a long time hockey fan, as well as an Islander fan.
Please visit our NHL main page and the blogs of all of our NHL teams,
Too Many Men on the Site
Please check out Fansided’s weekly NHL podcast,
Rink Side Rants