Top 10 Ways to “Improve” NHL Officiating
10. Fine and suspend referees
Players, coaches, general managers and everyone apart of a NHL organization can be fined and suspended for on-ice activity and off-ice comments. Why not fine and suspend referees for blown calls or “game management.” If they are already being fined and suspended then make it know to the public so that we know.
9. Instant replay
So you know, the strips can get the call right. It’s already done for goal reviews, why not for penalties? Not all penalties, just the ones that should have a second look, like delay of games, double minors for highsticking, 5 minute majors. Just to make absolutely sure the call on the ice is the correct one.
8. Off-ice linesmen
Move linesmen off the ice. Have two referees on ice and two linesmen off ice. A linesman main duty is to call icings and offsides, all things they can do from behind the boards, off the ice. Why bother doing something like this? To create more offense and less “incidental” player-linesmen and puck-linesmen contact.
You can read more about linesmens duties here.
7. In-game consistency
If you’re going to call a weak slashing call in the first 5 minutes of the first period against the home team, call that weak slashing call in the final 5 minutes of the third period on the away team.
6. Get out of the way!
Get out of the way of the players and the puck. You’re in the way. If it weren’t for the rule that players couldn’t bowl over referees and linesmen you’d all be concussed by now. Too many referees get in the way of players making plays, scoring chances, puck chases and battles.
5. Whistles on goalie freezings
If refs can see the goalie has the puck covered up or can’t see the puck on the ice, blow the whistle. Don’t blow the whistle if you’re on the other side of the net and you THINK the goalie as the puck covered up.
4. Intent to whistle down the play
Play should go on until the whistle if blow, no exceptions. Play shouldn’t stop because a referee plans to blow the whistle. Quickest way to remedy this if you don’t want to change the rule, make it mandatory that referee’s has their whistle in their mouth at all times or create some mouth guard-whistle hybrid, you could call it the whistle-guard.
3. Call the Stanley Cup Playoffs like a regular season game
There’s this idea/opinion that playoff games need to be called differently, that more things don’t get called because it’s “playoff hockey” and they are called that way because that’s how it’s always been? I’m sorry but the way the playoffs are officiated now echos back to “old time” hockey when all games, regular season or playoffs were more intense and a lot was not called. The game adapted, improved and changed, the regular season officiating reflected this change but playoff officiating has not, if anything playoff officiate is still a decade behind. Why is one game being officiated two different ways because of the time of year?
2. Make referees available to media
Players, coaches, general managers, practically everyone involved in the hockey game are available for comment pre, during and post game so why not take it a step further and have referees available for comment? Allow media to ask referee’s about missed calls or penalty explanations. I mean referees already explain these to players and coaches so why not to media so they can report it to fans? At the very least, it will give fans a new reason to hate refs.
1. Regulating body
This one might sound a few of the above items but the NHL really needs a regulating body (or a better one than what they have now). NHL refs are by far the biggest laughing stock of all major sports, until they sort out the officiating the game will never get as big in the US as Football does.