Just when it seemed like the response to National Hockey League star Ryan Getzlaf’s use of a homophobic and sexist slur couldn’t get any more disappointing... it just got more disappointing. Getzlaf, who is the captain of the Anaheim Ducks, was fined $10,000 after calling a referee a “cocksucker” during Game 4 of the Western Conference finals on Friday. Many believe he got off too easily, considering the fine is just a drop in the bucket of his yearly $9 million salary and that another player, Andrew Shaw, was suspended by the NHL and sent to sensitivity training last year when he called an official an anti-gay slur.
Barry Trotz does not think the Capitals’ history of playoff struggles has created a mental hurdle for the team to overcome. “I think they’re all past that now,” Trotz said to reporters at the team’s breakdown day. “I think it’s so overworked by [the media] and everybody else that it’s actually becoming a joke to the guys.” Well, the Caps weren’t laughing after their Game 7 loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins. In some ways, Trotz is correct. Losing to Jaroslav Halak in 2010 is not why Washington lost to Pittsburgh this year. Giving up a 3-1 series lead to the New York Rangers in 2015 is not why the Caps were shutout in Game 7 by the Penguins. But there does seem to be a mental hurdle the team has
The NHL has an officiating problem. I don’t mean that in the sense that the league’s referees and linesmen themselves are the problem. Hockey is a fast, nuanced sport, and the on-ice officials are no worse than their NFL or NBA counterparts. Nor am I of the opinion that NHL officiating is progressively getting worse. Since the dawn of organized, regulated sports, officials have missed calls, mishandled situations and unjustly influenced outcomes of games. Human error, for better or worse, will exist as long as humans are adjudicating. I refer instead to a small set of rules (though well-intentioned) that wind up preventing the officials from properly managing a game, demolish the flow of a game