I have been a USA hockey referee for a few years now. Back when I first got my start, I can tell you that it was not as easy as I thought. I really enjoy it which is why I continue to do it. Perception is everything, and you won't catch everything that happens in the course of a game. Some things you do call will be totally wrong. Even the best referees in the world don't get every call right.
All these things being said, I have also found in my travels that the team that wins doesn't complain about the reffing as much as the team that loses. Sure, they both complain, but the one that gets the short end of the stick always complains. This is never going to change.
There are many calls the Wings have gotten where nothing has happened. All wings fans praise and love these calls. Others go against the Wings for nothing, and the fans ***** about the reffing and how its a conspiracy. So, let me get this straight. If a call goes for the Wings where the Wings didn't get tripped or just fall on accident, its ok. If a call goes against the Wings where someone fell and the Wings weren't involved, its reffing failure?
I don't subscribe to reffing conspiracy theories. There are going to be missed calls in the progression of the game. There are going to be calls that shouldn't be called in the progression of the game. Human beings are going to perceive things differently. Now that you have television in the mix where you can slow down and really analyze the play, every call can be questioned.
I believe the NHL has the best professional hockey refs. At the same time though, they perform like any other ref would perform. When the game is played at that high of a level, mistakes are going to happen. If the NHL was hell bent on fixing those mistakes, they would change the reffing system. For instance, one of the things they tried at the combine this year was one ref on the ice while the other ref is standing on a platform overlooking the glass. Both refs can call penalties. What they found was that the ref up high caught more legit penalties than the ref on the ice. I am all for a system like this to be honest with you, but the hockey purists would not be happy.
In closing, there are a couple things I want to point out....
1. I firmly believe before you get upset with the refs, you should put the stripes on and ref. It really opens your eyes to the world of refereeing and you will see, even at the rec league level, that it isn't as easy as you thought it would be. Even you will make mistakes, even after years of reffing.
2. I also firmly believe that the best team always wins in the end. The refs didn't screw the Wings out of the game last night. The Wings defense went to sleep on the two goals that Chicago scored in the game. The Wings were lucky to get to OT last night thanks to the bank shot off of the defenseman's skate.
3. As for the playoffs, I also believe that the best team wins a 7 game series. The refs may make a bad call which results in one team winning a game, but things always seem to work out. A team down 2-0 in a series will turn it on to make it a series if they want it bad enough. The refs don't decide 7 game series, the players do.
That is all....
I've been a sports official for basketball and soccer for collegiate intramural leagues when I was back in college. Obviously not as talented as professional sports or even college varisty sports, but still a lot of these guys are competent athletically, played sports at competitive levels in high school, whatever.
Last night I went beserk on the officials on almost every call. And I'm not one that likes to go off on games or yell and hollar.
The first basketball game I officiated, if I was a player in the game, I'd punch myself for the retarded job I did. One of the players at the end of the game wanted to rip my head off, and I don't blame him. I was terrible. I tried to let things go and made up my own rules to be as fair as I could (there was no bias or being afraid of other players or whatever, I just did what I thought was best, and my judgment long/short was just flat out awful). Eventually I got over that and just called games by the rules as best I could. And I think I got pretty good at it. I messed up plenty of calls over those few years, yes, but everything was by the rules of those games, I never got reprimanded by people in charge, got a good job here and there for games, and so forth.
I have no doubt that NHL officials have a hard job. I don't expect perfection. I just expect them to follow the rules, like I officiated with as little grey area as possible, and like many people have stated, those rules are just so absurdly grey from game to game, player to player, it is impossible for officials not to look like a bunch of idiots.
Back when phantom interference started or people were bitter on here blaming officials for the Wings losing a few years ago against the Ducks in the playoffs or whatever, I'd be one of the first to rail on people saying they were nuts, the Red Wings lose games by themselves. If you don't see though that some of the things that are called just reek of inconsistency and bias towards some players (i.e. Holmstrom phantom interference), inconsistencies of player suspensions, and basically you have to treat the officials with kiddie gloves or they'll cry and you'll be fined money, I don't know what to tell you.
EDIT: I recently went to a basketball playoff game for the high school I went to. The team they were playing was winning most of the game, until my school fought back to tie the game up. The other school took the ball out with about 20 seconds left, and the guy dribbling the ball got called for palming/carrying the ball. We got the ball back one more time, made a layup with about 4 seconds left, and their desperation shot fell well short. While I'm glad my school won, you realize how chicken s**t of a way it is to lose a game on a call like that when it wasn't being called at all the whole game and he really wasn't palming the ball? The other school didn't deserve to lose, at least that way. Just like Zetterberg's phantom hook call late in the game? Kudos to the 'Hawks for taking advantage but that's just a piss-poor way to determine the outcome of a game.
Ticky-tacky stuff and what other people have stated already as loose rule interpretation and legitmate arguments of bias towards certain players is what annoys the crap out of everybody, not them not being 100% perfect. And it's getting worse and worse each season. The officials overall stink for all teams across the board, and the rules are way too inconsistent.
Edited by SouthernWingsFan, 29 March 2011 - 05:02 PM.