Ottawa Senators head coach Guy Boucher gives instruction to Clarke MacArthur (16) during the third period of Game 1 of the Eastern Conference final in the NHL Stanley Cup hockey playoffs in Pittsburgh, Saturday, May 13, 2017. The Ottawa Senators are in a place against the Pittsburgh Penguins that they’ve yet to experience this postseason. For the first time, Guy Boucher’s charges are facing the prospect of their season coming to an end in Game 6 Tuesday night.
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.
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