Officiating in Championship Series Has to Get Better

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Officiating in Championship Series Has to Get Better
(Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)

First of all, I would like to say congratulations to the Pittsburgh Penguins. They did what they needed to do to win the Stanley Cup. They won on the road and did not make mistakes. 

That being said, officials need to do a better job in championship series. 

During games six and seven, the officials decided they were not going to call that controversial penalty to cost a team the game. In doing so, they did not make the correct calls for either team, thus essentially deciding the game anyway.

The Detroit Red Wings were one of the least penalized teams in the NHL, while Pittsburgh was one of the more penalized teams. If you allow a physical team to play physical and get away with penalties, it hurts the team they play.

Most people saw games six and seven. The Red Wings did not come alive until the third period in either game. But, it is hard to come alive when you are being interfered with and hooked.

Game six had a blatant non-interference call against the Penguins. Yes, one could argue this may not have affected the game.

In a game of momentum, in which anything can help a team come back, a power play could have been the play to end it all.

In game seven, the Penguins first goal was made on a turnover in the Detroit end. Icing is a pretty easy call to make in hockey—either it was icing or it wasn't. When Detroit went to touch up the obviously iced puck, the referee did not call it icing, thus the Wings turned it over.

These are just a few examples—there were other examples, including some on the Red Wings end. When trying not to impact a game, referees need to do a better job of just calling the most obvious plays.

I am all for letting hockey players play. After all, this is the NHL, not the No-Contact Football League. When there are obvious penalties or calls, the officials have to do a better job of calling them.

In games six and seven the officials decided to hold their whistles. They did not want to make a mistake or a controversial call. When something is an obvious penalty, it is okay to call it.

It is okay to call the interference or the icing—no one will fire you. The referees have to be the best in the league for a championship series, but they also have to be okay with making a mistake.

Mistakes will happen in the game, that is part of the game. When you do not call obvious calls, that is not part of the game. I am glad no one was hurt on an illegal hit.

Again, Pittsburgh deserves the Cup—I am happy for them. They did not make mistakes or turnovers, and the defense did not let the Wings lose in their end. Pittsburgh did everything they needed to do to win.

However, so did the officials. Calling penalties after a team is down by two with eight to go in the third will not help either team. Not calling penalties in the first period with the game tied will help the team committing the penalties.

Officiating has got to get better in the championship series in any professional sport.  No, Kobe, someone defending your shot does not mean it was a foul.

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