27

Does referee Steve Kozari have a grudge with the Oilers?

Back on January 26th Connor McDavid had a goal disallowed against the Flames and then after scoring a beauty in the shootout this moment happened:

That referee was Steve Kozari.

Fast forward to last night’s game and this brutal call on Milan Lucic’s charging, definitely not charging penalty.

When the game was in the balance, the Oilers had stormed back to make a one-goal game of what looked like a blowout. The timing of the penalty and the mystifying call itself left people all over the internet calling out Kozari’s name as someone who has it in for the Oilers. Could it be the case that Connor’s frustration with a referee who blew a call late in the game has caused an NHL ref to seek out and make some bad calls against the Oilers specifically?

I took the time to go back and look at the four Oilers games Kozari has called since the infamous “Check Upstairs” game. Those games:

Saturday, February 10, 2018
at San Jose (6-4 loss)

Tuesday, February 20, 2018
vs Boston (3-2 loss)

Saturday, September 29, 2018
Preseason vs Calgary (6-4 win)

Tuesday, October 16, 2018
at Winnipeg (5-4 win)

The stats on the penalties for those game are

9 Oilers powerplays for

14 Oilers powerplays against

If you remove the preseason game the stats are 6 PP for and 7 PP against. 

So statistically it looks like the Oilers are being called for and against at the rate they were last year (46%) as they are when Kozari is on the ice. But let’s dive deeper into the calls.

I took video clips of four of the calls from games that I could see against the Oilers, you be the judge.

The game against Calgary in the preseason was unavailable because of broadcasting issues. I don’t think there is much here you can really point to. I think his miss on the Lucic call was just that, a bad call.

What do you think? Does Steve Kozari have it out for the Oilers?



  • TruthHurts98

    Brutal call on Lucic. Haven’t been a fan of his but him on the 3rd line grinding and throwing big checks might work well. Kozari obviously has a bias.

  • WeirdG

    Pretty sure charging is when the player’s feet leaves the ice when going in for hit. Lucic’s feet never leave the ice.

    If anything, the ref could have given him a boarding call, but even that would have been suspect.

    • Stinky Mitt to the Face

      I think that you also have to skate into the player; which never happend. I don’t like how he delayed a second before making a call that was right in front of him.

    • AlexTheOilersFanSince2006

      If my NHL officiating is up to snuff, for a player to be called for charging, that player has to take more than 2 strides before the hit is initiated.

      • jesse says yep

        NHL rule 42
        “Charging is a penalty in ice hockey. Rule 42 of the NHL rulebook dictates that charging “shall mean the actions of a player or goalkeeper who, as a result of distance traveled, shall violently check an opponent in any manner. A ‘charge’ may be the result of a check into the boards, into the goal frame or in open ice.”[1] The infraction may warrant any severity of penalty or combination of penalties as the officials deem fit, including a major plus a game misconduct, or suspension if the infraction results in injury to the opposing player. Any player who leaves their feet while delivering a body check is also found to be in violation of the charging rule and is subject to penalization. ”

        And as players are in constant motion this is a judgement call for sure unless the player leaves his feet, then it is pretty clear cut. Looch was gliding and didnt leave his feet so it would seem he got 2 minutes for making a boom boom.

    • Glencontrolurstik

      Charging is a penalty in ice hockey. Rule 42 of the NHL rulebook dictates that charging “shall mean the actions of a player or goalkeeper who, as a result of distance traveled, shall violently check an opponent in any manner. A ‘charge’ may be the result of a check into the boards, into the goal frame or in open ice.”[1] The infraction may warrant any severity of penalty or combination of penalties as the officials deem fit, including a major plus a game misconduct, or suspension if the infraction results in injury to the opposing player. Any player who leaves their feet while delivering a body check is also found to be in violation of the charging rule and is subject to penalization.
      Mostly it’s “distance travelled for the sole purpose of making a hit”.
      Now, when the puck carrier notices they are about to get pummeled, they get rid of the puck & it becomes an interference call.
      Charging was called a lot in the 60’s & 70’s, now it’s mostly called something else, like “boarding” or interference.

      • Glencontrolurstik

        We are going to see more of these calls now. After the Petterson hit, refs have been told to take care of that stuff. Especially on the end boards. You watch… Then, it’ll revert back to the norm (like slashing last season, because of #13’s wrist injury). The league will do its best to protect players. When an incident comes up, they all start calling these said infractions. I just wish they would be consistant?

  • Shane

    My first job was as a hockey ref. I heard death threats because I missed a few calls when I was 11. It’s a fast game and noone makes perfect judgement calls 100% of the time. Missed call, big deal. It was a win so enjoy.

  • Johnnymaced

    I only ever watch oilers games so I’m not sure how other teams fans feel but personally it’s seemed the last few years the referees have been pretty brutal against the oilers.

  • OilerForLife

    Absolutely we have every right to call a ref out for making bad calls and this was just totally unfair. Can an NHL team protest to the league when this sort of thing appears to be happening? There should be a way to do something because a ref shouldn’t be beyond evaluation for bias incompetence, whichever would apply in a situation like this.

  • LTFan

    Not an Oilers fan BUT the call against Lucic was butal. Caggiula call was every bit as bad. Neither one of those plays should have been a penalty.

    On the other side of the referee “bad calls” is where the play should have resulted in a penalty and none is given. There is no doubt in some cases, IMO, the ref’s are trying to make a point by calling a penalty where there isn’t one and not calling a penalty where there is a penalty. Good work by Nation Dan and his crew to point this one out.