Photo Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

NHL: Too many missed calls

Despite a call for crackdowns on obstruction, holding and hand slashing, NHL teams in 2017/2018 still have the fifth lowest PP/game average over the past 54 seasons. Despite more speed among the elite players of the game, they are managing to get fewer powerplays than ever before.

I love hockey — always have — but over the past few seasons, I find myself watching fewer games than I used to. I get frustrated by the amount of missed calls, and I find the games are less exciting than before. I was ecstatic when the new TV deal came out a few years ago, knowing we’d see more than just the Toronto Maple Leafs or Montreal Canadiens on Saturday nights. More channels meant more options and more opportunity to see the stars of the game.

However, after watching more games involving the best players, I’ve sadly realized the NHL is the only league that seems hell bent on punishing their best players. They want them to fight through infractions rather than enforce the rulebook. I don’t need an endless parade of penalties, but if the NHL would actually crack down on infractions, the players would adjust. And if they had to stop hooking or holding it would allow the incredible speed of today’s players to shine through more often.

Why wouldn’t the NHL want their most skilled players to be able to show off their incredible skill more often?

Since 1963/1964, only during five seasons have NHL teams averaged 3.2 penalties/game or less.

This year it is 3.2
In 1977/1978 it was 3.19.
In 2015/2016 teams averaged 3.11.
In 2014/2015 it was 3.06
And last season was the lowest ever, with teams averaging 2.99 powerplays/game.

So in the past 54 NHL seasons, four of the five lowest PP/game averages have occurred in the last FOUR NHL seasons.

I’d say it is a trend in the wrong direction.

And it’s down by a significant margin.

From 1980 to 2008, the average PP/game for a team was between 4.00 to 5.85 pp/games. The highest was in 2005/2006, when teams averaged 5.85 PP/game, but as recent as 2008 teams were at 4.16, which is basically one more PP game than what teams average now.

Don’t be fooled into believing players are that much more disciplined today. They aren’t, but they get away with much more holding, slashing and obstruction. During the 1990s when Mario Lemieux accurately complained about all the obstruction, teams still had way more powerplays than we see today.

From 1990 to 1999, the yearly average for powerplays/game for a team was 4.58, 4.57, 5.02, 5.28, 4.85, 4.36, 5.04, 4.10, 4.64 and 4.38.
From 2010 until this season, teams have averaged 3.71, 3.54, 3.31, 3.32, 3.27, 3.06, 3.11, 2.99 and 3.20 power plays per game.

Why the drastic decrease in penalties?


I spoke with former NHL referee Kerry Fraser about the drop in penalties.

He turned the table and asked me, “Where do you see the potential infraction not being called most often?

I replied, “When a player has the puck with speed either though the neutral zone or entering the offensive zone. I see the most missed calls in those areas.”

Fraser then explained why. And he did it in great detail.

“I absolutely agree with you, and I’ll tell you why, because that’s where the play transitions. The transition through the neutral zone is really quick in the game now and that’s where the officials get caught flat footed. They start to back up from their positions, some of them retreat so far back they’re making long distance calls or they can’t support the puck when the play is down on the far end, and you watch, you’ll see guys standing back, red line or even beyond the red line towards the blue line when the play is deep in the other end. Those are the guys who are a little nervous about a quick transition and are not able to move backwards quick enough,” explained Fraser.

“You (refs) should be able to get out quick. When you read the play, when you see that there is a Connor McDavid starting to spring and he’s moving in open ice and he’s going to be a potential outlet once that Oilers guy regains possession of the puck, it’s at that moment that you read the play, you backup. you start, you always stay ahead of a McDavid or anybody and you’ve got to get moving your feet.

“Some guys don’t see that. They’re puck watchers, all of the sudden they get surprised. ‘Oh my God, the puck’s passed, McDavid has it’. Now you’re playing catch-up as a referee.

“So those elements of seeing the play in advance, reading it, knowing the outlet, when the guy gets the puck, what are all of the outlets, and you do that by setting up freeze frame pictures. You might have to have a [Milan] Lucic on the one side, he might be just inside the blueline. You might have the centremen, McDavid, up high and the other winger is down low supporting the puck. So you’ve got to know when the puck is obtained, where the defensive players are and where the best outlets are as a referee.

“You’ve got to move, you’ve got to see it, you’ve got to angle yourself in such a position that you’re going to have the best view because when that puck is passed to a guy like McDavid, he skates as fast, if not faster with the puck than without it. And you’ve got to be prepared to move and get an angle because refs have a short window, just like defensive players have a short window to try to catch the fast players like McDavid, Jack Eichel, Nikita Kucherov and the other fast stars. And how often that happens quickly, it’s going to happen almost as quickly as he gets the puck, because that’s usually the closest proximity to the defending player will have. Because once they light it up, look out,” said Fraser.

So the speed of the game is making it more difficult for officials to get in position to make the call. It makes sense, but there are two referees on the ice now compared to the one-man system we used to see and one referee would call more infractions that two do now. That doesn’t make much sense to me.


Oct 4, 2017; Edmonton, Alberta, CAN; Edmonton Oilers forward Connor McDavid (97) celebrates his third period goal against the Calgary Flames at Rogers Place. Mandatory Credit: Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports

Many fans around the NHL get frustrated when their best player is impeded or obstructed and there is no call.

Fraser explained what he sees specifically about McDavid, but also said this happens to other stars around the league who carry the puck a lot.

“There are situations with McDavid, based on his speed, the ability to really ignite it, to have the puck a lot, that I believe should be called more. He’s so quick and I think that he’s almost, I hate to say this, he’s almost too quick for the officials. You’ve got to move and get into a position ahead of him to really see the contact, the restraint and when officials get caught a little slow, a little flat footed backing up as this guy ignites and explodes, all of the sudden the referee’s focus, I believe is, ‘Oh my gosh, I’ve got to get moving,'” said Fraser.

“Then they drop their eyes, which you should never do anyways, you should be able to skate backwards without looking down at your feet. But there’s that pause, that pregnant pause that ‘Uh oh, I gotta go,’ and ‘I’m going to get caught,’ and then they start getting out of the way and that’s when things can be missed. You’ve got to set yourself up in advance. You and I have talked before about seeing the game in advance. You talk about Wayne Gretzky, nobody saw it better than him, incredible vision, knew where the puck was going to be two, three, four chess moves down the board.

“And that’s what the officials have to develop. They (NHL) have a lot of young officials, some have just finished playing and the league is on this let’s recruit former players — American League, East Coast League, kind of guys that know the game, or should. That’s terrific, I endorse that, but they’ve got to be taught how to referee. Because when you drop your stick as a player and you put on a whistle on your hand, you’ve got to totally adjust your philosophy. Players attack the puck, but officials have to retreat from the puck and that’s where that vision of understanding the game for sure as a former player will need to change. They have to transition into the referee mindset. Which is totally reverse from attacking the puck,” explained Fraser.


I’m really perplexed why the NHL is so stubborn in enforcing the rule book. It’s mind boggling.

They will bring in needless rules like offside review and eliminate goals because a skate is off the ice, even though the player is not across the blueline and has no actual advantage, but refuse to crack down on officials for missed calls.

The game is faster than ever, but it isn’t as exciting as it used to be. The NHL needs to address this now.

Just call the game by the wording of the rule book. Empower your officials to call the enforce the rules and ensure they are in the best position to see the play.

Recently by Jason Gregor:

  • Randaman

    Too bad Kerry had to retire. He was one of the very best. The reffing in the league today is terrible for the most part.
    Bettman seems to think it is fine and that goal reviews are working. Head in the sand Gary. Can’t say I’m surprised.

    • Dan 1919

      He did say at the Allstar game that they’d be sending out a memo instructing officials to only call a goal back if it’s blatant goaltender interference… almost implying that McDavid’s or Mathew’s goals should have counted.
      Unfortunately I don’t see this solving the problem, as it still gives the ref the ability to choose the call for the team he wants. Ex, playoffs last year when Kessle shoved Talbot out of the way would be considered glaring interference, and it still wasn’t called. So if they add the word glaring today in a “memo” who’s to say they won’t just change the definitions to suite their calls? They have a grass routes officiating problem in the NHL, it’s more than just terminology of the rule book.

      • Glencontrolurstik

        First, I think you meant Kesler not Kessel? On that note: I really feel that, to your point, the refs are calling the games the way the NHL has instructed them. Just seems to be more evidence of the NHL trying to even out the playing field ie. Salary Cap, “Bettman Point”,… etc. etc.
        A rules a rule,… just call it…
        I miss the “Let’s ask Kerry” column every week on the TSN homepage.
        I think that’s what they called it,… It certainly explained alot…
        Maybe he could become a regular “Nation” contributor?

  • Rob...

    So here’s the fix: If it’s obvious that a player is going to reach the blue line without going offside and no referee can catch up, the linesman needs to push to the endzone, while keeping an eye on the puck handler. Permit the linesman who is advancing with the play to call holding/slashing/tripping penalties if witnessed. Let’s face it, if a linesman isn’t in position to call a legitimate offside they’ll just go to video review anyways after the goal; so there is no harm in taking this approach.

    • Glencontrolurstik

      They are permitted to call a penalty anyway, I believe…
      Could you imagine the egos & politics involved though…
      These days the position of Ref has sure gone to their head,… as Kerry eluded to. I can’t imagine allowing a linesman (who would most always be better positioned in the neutral zone) to call a penalty without some pushback?

        • Glencontrolurstik

          OK thanks, I thought it was all penalties…
          I was trying to remember any time I saw a linesman make a call…
          Probably comes down to the hierarchy situation…
          They being able to make calls, makes sense. Especially if it will stop the possibility of an off-ice ref making calls remotely, in all situations, that would suck…

  • TKB2677

    I am not a pro hockey coach, I didn’t play pro hockey or play hockey at an overly high level. I played as a young guy into my teens and I have watched hockey for most of my 40 yrs on this earth but I don’t pretend to be an expert. So maybe I am missing something but I thought when you have 2 refs, one guy is supposed to be down low, deep in the zone to watch the stuff near the goal. Then you have the other guy who is supposed to be just outside the blueline staring into the zone, able to see the whole zone in front of him. So when McDavid gets the puck and takes off, if the ref is in the area between the blueline and the center where he should be and he starts skating backwards as soon as McDavid gets the puck and turns up ice, McDavid or which ever star you want to to list should be coming right at him. So if an opposing player grabs his arm, hooks or trips him, it should be right in front of him. So how are they missing it? We see it time and time again where a player is skating RIGHT AT an official getting hooked and unless his eyes are closed, the official is watching it all happen in front of him and the ref doesn’t call a penalty. At time we will see the back ref who is BEHIND the players call it. HOW?

    So while I respect Frasers opinion and I believe that the speed has something to do with it, if the ref is in position, call what you see. I believe it is more like what Gregor said. There is a big time sense in the NHL that the star players have to “battle through” stuff. There seems to be a mentality and the leagues even talks about how they want the league to be full of parity. They want all the teams to be in the race, so they created the stupid points system to make sure that more teams can stay in it. I think that also translates onto the ice. There is a small amount of super star players but a HUGE amount of mediocre players in the league. So in order to bring some sense of “parity” on the ice, they have to give these mediocre players a fighting chance. So they do it by letting stuff go.

  • Dan 1919

    Completely agree with this whole article, even to the point where when you watch two teams you don’t care about and still find yourself saying, “What are these refs doing?”

    Maybe Fraser’s right and the NHL is just too fast to officiate now, maybe it’s time to get off-ice officials who also call penalties? It sounds bizarre and completely out there, but when you really think about it, what’s the downside? Most of us are so fed up with inconsistent reffing that I really do see it as a positive for the game(assuming it helps them get it right). The big two items that make the game so inconsistent for me are poor penalty calls (missed or poor calls) and the goaltender interference reviews; in which some refs say you can’t touch the goalie and other’s say you have to knock the goalie out to impede his ability to make a save(although Bettman claims they will be cleaning this rule up).

    Assuming they can make quick correct calls, office refs calling penalties really shouldn’t slow the game down either like we’ve seen with offside and goaltender interference reviews.

    • Cheap Shot Charlie

      I was thinking about off ice officials calling penalties when I was reading this article also. The problem is that the WAR room in Toronto is just as bad at making the right calls and they can slow the game down to frame-by-frame. I just don’t see how an extra set of eyes would help anything. Having 3 (or more) sets of eyes that are blind doesn’t mean any extra calls are going to be made, or more importantly, made correctly.

  • Natejax97

    Just a notable…when PK Subban’s stick was stuck in Connor’s armpit after he hooked him and then let it go. That was it for me.

    The Oilers get marginal calls against them all the time, but draw none, as one of the top possession teams in the league…What????

    Also 14 straight challenges in the other teams favor – topped off by the pad pull apart job last year against Anaheim.

    Sick of not having the respect of the referees, and I can see Connor is getting pretty sick of it too. Baggedmilk mentions refs on the face palmer section in almost every GDB Wrap up, and he is bang on with his assessments.

    The refs are horrible to the Oilers.

    • Dan 1919

      100% true, and it’s not just the Oilers. The notorious Flames get called against all the time. Talk to many other fans and the storyline is the same, US market teams get calls. It needs to be discussed in public more now that everyone notices it, at one point we all just denied it to ourselves because we thought it was us just feeling sorry for our team… but it’s glaringly obvious now, all fans notice it.

      • Been beating that drum for years. It is beyond ridiculous the # of infractions that are missed when a US franchise plays a Canadian one. The league will not change anything, as they would give up the power to directly influence the outcome of a game, which is their target. Obvious to anyone who actually pays attention. If people still want to enjoy this sport at its highest level, you have to watch knowing it is rigged just like wrestling.

      • OilersGM

        About 2 years ago I texted Oilers now with Stauffer when he had Craig Simpson on and I said Canadian teams never get the calls especially in the playoffs and when Stauffer read the text for Simpson he called my text as a stupid excuse and that I’m a conspiracy theorist. Well I’ve been watching hockey for 20 years and it always goes against Canadian teams always. Why do you think the cup hasn’t been back in Canada for 24 years now, it’s because the idiot Bettman is trying to grow the game south of the border when is killing it for us fans north of the border. People care here unlike most in the US. Why does Bettman keeps his job for so long because he fills the majority owners pockets and the majority are from south of course. Honestly Bettman has killed the game for me and I’m sick and tired of him at the helm. He knows fans are too passionate here so he knows they will always show up. I F****** hate him.

          • Archer

            I don’t quite agree that the calls always go against the Canadian teams. I don’t watch Calgary, Vancouver, Winnipeg, or Ottawa often enough to know how they are treated, but I’m certain that Toronto and Montreal don’t get the short end of the stick too often, including when they play the Oilers. So, while I believe that the Oilers don’t get even reffing, I don’t believe that the same applies to all Canadian teams.

    • Glencontrolurstik

      My moment was the “Kadri Waterski Event”… & the “Kesler Pad-jam”…..
      Two situations where #1 TV market & trying to “grow the game”…

    • Homer

      @nate this is so big on that I’ve gone from never missing a game to not giving a rats ass at this point. Every other league protects its stars and allows them to shine but in Bettman garbage league it’s the complete opposite.

  • Derian Hatcher

    When you have a commisioner constantly saying everything is working fine, there is nothing the league needs to work on (sort of like the Iraqui communications minister), this is what you get. A joke of a hockey operations department that is a laughing stock and can’t even recognize their own ineptitude.

    • BringitbacklikeSlats

      Actually it’s not true. Lebrun was on the Lowdown this morning and said how pissed Gary was at the meeting in Tampa regarding the disallowed goals.

      He cautioned against moving towards video review several years ago. Looks like he may have been on to something.
      So yes something is amiss but it wasn’t Gary’s call. He was against it.

        • BringitbacklikeSlats

          No worries. I think we’re all tired of the way the games being called and it makes sense to point the frustration at the Commish. But we need to recognize that GMs and (owners I think?) all vote on these things as opposed to Gary just calling the shots.

          One other thing that small market Canadian teams fans need to recognize is that Gary was instrumental is our franchise remaining here. We’re it not for his efforts to implement a cap, we’d arguably be watching the Houston Oilers instead of Edmonton. And it’s made it a far more competitive and better League as a result. Not to say he hasn’t made some bad calls, but I think he’s gotten a lot right and as an Oilers fan i feel like I owe at least some gratitude towards him.
          Look at Baseball as a comparison with the wealthy teams winning year in year out. It’s a joke… just like it was pre cap in the NHL once salaries skyrocketed coonciding with Gretzky playing in California.

  • Rock11

    The biggest challenge to getting the officiating correct is the mindset that the ref “doesn’t want to impact the game”. So lets all think back to the Anaheim series where there probably 4 calls a shift that could have been made when Mcdavid was on the ice. No ref is going to make all of those calls as he feels like he is “giving” the game to the team getting all the powerplays. This ref goes home and thinks he did his job by staying “out of the game”.
    What he is actually doing though is impacting the game in the other direction. The idea that action(calling a penalty) has more influence than inaction(not calling the penalty) is a fallacy. In the Ducks series the officiating tilted the series in favour of Anaheim by allowing their less talented players to drag others down to their level. This is as impactful as calling dozens on penalties. It’s the mindset that needs to change and that seems unlikely to happen any time soon.

  • camdog

    Good article – Fraser of course is defending his boys, which I would be doing if I was him. What he is saying is partly right but on far too many occasions you see the ref looking right at the infraction.

    In hockey it’s statistically proven that referees call less penalties in the third than the first period. Second period teams have long change so that’s not comparable. Generally more penalties are called at beginning of season than the end. Do they get tired as the game moves on or as season moves on? No, – refs are game managers they are taught to manage the game at very young age, this is what the NHL wants. Rather than having the NHL crack down on officials the NHL needs to change it’s culture from within. Refs will never look good trying to manage the game the way the “hockey Ops” guys want the game managed.

  • Coiltown Soilers

    Surprise surprise. Someone from the Edmonton media complaining about the refs. Better get BeetBoy in here to crank out the salty tears. Here’s a crazy idea for the Oilers. Just win some games and move out of the position of laughing stock. This team has had more first round luck than anyone and yet people still complain about the injustices these poor guys have to suffer. This latest outrage against the refs has become sad.

    • QuitForRealThisTime

      When skill can be nullified by allowing other teams to cheat it is an issue…Gregor’s main point is that calls are down across the board, why?

    • Jason Gregor

      Hey Coil Soil,

      Your inability to comprehend the basis of the article stops you from understanding this is a league-wide issue. It has very little to do with the Oilers in fact. They are one of 31 teams, and every team in the NHL has seen a drastic drop in their PP/game. Smart fans should want to watch entertaining hockey regardless of which team is playing. If McDavid is hooked or held less then so two will Johnny Gaudreau be held and hooked less. It will benefit fans of every team.

      But if you want to just complain without thinking, then knock your socks off. You’re well versed in that it would seem based on your previous posts. Have a great day.

      • BringitbacklikeSlats


        Maybe insignificant, but I wonder if not having the namebars on the backs of the refs the way they used to, somehow doesn’t hold them as accountable to the fans in attendence.
        Back in the day, if McReery for example called a bad penalty you’d hear fans shout out his name. I think it kept them more honest than the nameless ghosts they are now.

        • LAKID

          I agree and like it or not the refs are a huge part of the game and have become to much of an influence on the outcome of games. The referees should be held accountable with their terrible calls. Fine them, suspend them or fire them, put the names back on their jersy’s. The fans could chant their names instead of throwing beer at them!

        • Jason Gregor

          Possibly. I know most players and refs don’t like it. The communication between players and refs is much less now than it was when players knew who the refs were. I think it would, at a minimum, improve communication between players and officials.

    • Cheap Shot Charlie

      So, are you in favor of Johnny getting his hand broken? Penalties not being called led to that. Or do you just not understand why rules that are put in place need to be called consistently for everyone?

    • jultz=2cups!??

      Lol. Toatally agree. Today they are complaining about the refs. And after the next game, if they lose, it will be all Lucic’s fault or Bennings. Then on off days it’s whine about the refs. Rinse, recycle, repeat. The complaining never ends around here

  • Johnnyo

    I’ll take Kerry at face value: sometimes the refs miss calls because they don’t see an infraction. But there are countless times they deliberately “put the whistles away” and let the players play. This is when the frustration sets in for me.

    Perfect example is when a forward pushes pick past Dman and then tries to go around only to have the Dman pinch him off along the boards or push him with his stick out into the middle before making his turn back to the puck. Both of these moves are obstruction/interference/holding. They should be called every time. These plays develop slowly and last seconds. There is no way two refs can miss them. They just choose not to call them and the game slows down as do scoring chances.

    • Neumann

      Bang on… this kind of thing happens to McDavid, and other fast skilled players, all the time. Push the puck to space on a rush go around the DMan but get held up and no call. With 97 he still usually completes the play, refs don’t make the call because of this, even though his advantage is mitigated.

  • RyanCoke

    Would adding a neutral zone ref make the ice too crowded? What about an eye in the sky ref where he can talk to a ref through an earpiece that he seen an infraction and have them call it?

  • oilerjed

    @jason Gregor

    I listened to that interview and was glad to hear the questions put out there. I was a little disappointed with Fraser’s answer as they seemed mostly like excuses. With the referees out there really isn’t any reason that speed should be a problem for the officials as they always have a head start on the play. Second, a pretty large majority of the missed calls are when the player has possession in the offensive end and the refs are pretty stagnant, having (or should) a clear view of what is happening. It’s a straight up refusal to make the calls that is the problem.
    We can use the speed of a game as an excuse for some, but far to often, during a replay you can see the ref clearly looking straight at the infraction and decides to not make a call. It is definitely something that needs to be addressed by the NHL as the lost offense is bleeding the life out of the game.

    This was a great article, but unfortunately being written on an Oilers blog means that it will never get national or North American exposure.

    My question is this, as a member of the radio and online media, how can you get this kind of a story out to the rest of the media where many voices can affect change?

    • VK63

      A piece that is worthy determines its own viral reach. All this content is linked, retweeted, broadcast on social.
      MSM paraphrases, pretends its their own and life goes on.
      Note… even Freidman doesn’t have 31 “original” thoughts but rather distill, format, broadcast to your network. Rinse, repeat, repeat, repeat.

      • oilerjed

        None of it shows up in google news or in any national news feed. There are 10s of thousands (probably 100s) articles written daily, some really excellent. They will still only get a short life and reach unless it is in a national outlet. Then you will see other outlets start to expand on it and rehash it.

  • tkfisher

    The excuse of making long distance calls or being behind the play because of the speed are a load of garbage. If someone in the nose bleeds can see a call from the top of the building, a ref should be able to see the play from the ice. There’s also two refs on the ice. In the past there use to be only one ref on the ice at a time and I would argue the refs have always moved at a similar pace to the players playing in the 60s, 70s, 80s and today. As the players became better skaters, so did the refs. Calling some guys puck watchers also doesn’t atone for the errors since most of the time it’s the guy with the puck that ‘s being hacked, and slashed. I think the issue is with two refs on the ice. Although they would never admit it, and it may be subconscious, but I believe both refs feel a portion of the play (call it an over lap zone between the two officials) is the other persons “zone”. They don’t want to step on each others toes and make a “distant call” when it’s in the other guys “zone”. Thus anything that’s a “borderline” penalty and the other guy who may be closer didn’t call, reinforces that he didn’t think it was a call either. I think both refs defer to the other guy too much and leave too many calls that could be called for the phantom zone.

  • wayne overland

    Other than possible dilution of referee quality due to the recent addition of a team, I don’t think refereeing is better or worse than it has been traditionally. I think ON followers are more sensitive to non calls on McD, because there hasn’t been a talent of this magnitude since Gretz left town. Other than perhaps a QB in football, a top talent does have to endure more infractions not called. If for no other reason than they get fouled a lot as other players are forced to do what they can and no referee will see everything. Perhaps I am naïve, but I don’t think the attitude that a great player must prove his greatness by playing enduring a higher standard of a foul actually happens, at least not intentionally. If there is such an attitude the it needs to be corrected.

      • Glencontrolurstik

        He did always speak out, though he was good enough to…
        If Maroon or Strome or even Draisaitl did that the refs would have something to say to the team, I’m sure…

  • Oiler Al

    I think there is a desire to keep the game moving along and not have as many penalties called.Borderline calls may be passed on?In the case of speedsters like #97, they could call a penalty on almost all of his sorties.Its frustrating both ways missed calls and these baby taps on the wrist or arm being called.In the case of this years Oilers,based on their PP, we are better off playing 5X5.

      • Retired Secret Agent

        Exactly! The first time some goomba gets called for 6 in a row against any elite player, you know the ones fans pay to see, and gets chewed and benched by his coach they’ll figure it out right quick. Especially if it costs his team 4 or 5 PP goals.

  • HardBoiledOil 1.0

    Maybe it’s time to get some refs that can skate and think clearly instead of the dog’s breakfast we’re going to see for the rest of the season.

    • QuitForRealThisTime

      Disagree that this is a Ref or individuals issue. I believe they officiate the way they are trained and told to. Dude, they have a really hard job, especially when the league heads seems to make it harder than it needs to be. *Whack “Oh, player A hit player B in the hands with his stick. Now I blow the whistle. Say 2 minutes for slashing and restart the game” vs *Whack “Ok, let’s think, team A has received 3 penalties so far and B has received 1. It is the middle of the 3rd period and team A is leading by 1 goal. Team A has 1 PP goals and B has none. I already made 2 calls against team B far slashing the same player on team A. Team A is not in a playoff spot and team B is. If I call a penalty that will be 5, which means I probably won’t be able to call another penalty for the rest of the game unless the puck is shot over the glass…nope, better not call it”

          • Just the one, and it is not outlandish. The evidence speaks for itself. Also it appears I am not alone in this line of thinking . If you seriously think the league does not favor US franchises, you are simply in denial. Applies to all Canadian franchises, not just the Oilers.

        • jultz=2cups!??

          I don’t remember complaining about the refs in 2006 when the oilers were in the SCF. That series and whole playoff run was called fair and square if I remember correctly. Only reason the oil didn’t win the cup was because Rollie got hurt. And how do you explain Calgary’s, Ottawa’s and Vancouver’s runs to the finals if the refs are “out to get Canadian teams”??

  • CMG30

    Agreed, reffing has deteriorated significantly over the past 5 years. No consistency and an absolute refusal to call the rulebook. From where I sit, we’re also seeing bias creep into the reffing. Certainly impacting enjoyment of the game from this fans perspective.

  • Beer_League_Ringer

    There are some pretty insightful comments here. I’ll throw it out there that in the moment when the Ref has to decided “is it, or isn’t it” holding/interference/hooking, and it involves McDavid at top speed, they could call a penalty virtually every time. The only way to keep up with Connor is bending/breaking the rules. The rules say the Refs should call it 100% of the time, the Refs are clearly reluctant to do so. McDavid has an opponent’s stick obstructing his hands at least a few times a game. Often it negates a scoring chance, or impedes his progress up the ice. Clear cut penalties with less than a fair share of calls IMO.

    • AJ88

      I went to a number of games at the beginning of the year when the refs were trying to enforce the holding, interference, stick up in the hands. What I remember is fans complaining of the real soft penalties that players use to get away with, and the players for the most part were complaining as well. I think the players have to buy into enforcing the rules much more than they do. What player wants to look like a pylon when McD and other fast company blow by the them, the majority of hockey players fall into the can’t keep up with McD so they do what ever they have to. It would be interesting what the Players Association have to say about it?

  • BringtheFire 2.0

    “I’m really perplexed why the NHL is so stubborn in enforcing the rule book.”


    “Call the rule book.”

    Can you clarify? I read the article but I’m not sure what you want. I mean , I know what you want, but…

  • They say they’ve cracked down on slashes, but it’s clearly not far enough. If the refs are going to call goalie interference like they did on McDavid the other day, they need to equally call a slash or hook on a defensemen interfering with said McDavid on a breakaway.

    And the other thing that sucks is although penalties are still down, you’d think goals against wouldn’t affect the Oilers as much when on the PK, but sadly it has.

  • Snoop Scottie Dogg

    I love Gary’s quote from another article, “I think it’s working for the most part.” I guess ol Gar doesn’t get to watch too many games….because the video review is a train wreck. I’d rather have one blantant offside missed every five years than to watch countless goals called back for no good reason.

    Not sure if it’s true but apparently the Oilers have had 14 calls in a row go against them. Combine that with 3 non-call on Connor and I would say that the NHL has bigger problems than they would like to admit.

  • Snoop Scottie Dogg

    If the refs aren’t fast enough to keep up with the play then they’re not doing their jobs. Hire young, fast officials; just like the nhl did with the players.

  • Derzie

    Couldn’t agree more with the article. I’ve turned off several games after game-changing non-calls or incorrect calls. Takes the fun out of it if the rules aren’t followed to some reasonable degree.

  • AlexTheOilersFanSince2006

    It’s sickening hearing and/or seeing the amount of non-penalty calls that happen, especially against McDavid. Dude the fastest player in the league and how many penalties has he drawn vs how many should have been called?

    Also I heard somewhere, not sure if it’s true, that Edmonton has lost 14 video review calls (I.e. the ones that DONT go our way). Is that true? And if so, WHEN DOES THAT CHANGE!?

  • FlamesFan27

    I watch more Flames games than Oilers games. I think this year there is a lot less slashing in the neutral zone than last year, which has certainly helped JG. I can’t really comment objectively on McDavid, but there are surely some missed calls.

    But you can’t even compare the obstruction from 2004 to now. Before 2004, you had to almost tackle another player to get a holding penalty. Now, if you take your hand off your stick for a split second you get one.

    In summary, I think the primary reason for less calls is that the players adjust to the new standard, whatever that standard is.

  • Dryden’s new book has a pretty good idea that will eliminate the need for review, and make the game safer – contact with a player who does not have the puck is interference, and is a minor penalty. That includes the so-called “finishing your check”. There’s no legitimate reason to hit a player after he’s passed the puck. Read the book. Incredibly compelling.

  • ponokanocker

    Great article. You’ve summed up the exact reason why the NHL no longer receives my hard earned money. I’m so sick and tired of the pathetic officiating. The Oilers getting McDavid brought to light just how wrong this league is. How he doesn’t draw a penalty on almost every shift is unbelievable.