NHL Referees: Should Referees Be Held Accountable For Calls?

Freddy DollContributor IJanuary 25, 2011

Should referees be accountable?
Should referees be accountable?Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Every fan sees it now and then. A referee makes a bad call and your favorite team is on the losing end, or a referee misses an obvious call and your team misses out again. It happens, but is it right that there isn't any penalty to the referee? Is it fair that referees can get away with missing a call or making a terrible one?

If you think like me, I believe that we can agree that it isn't fair. Also we could agree that there should be some kind of penalty against the official. Whether it be a fine, suspension or not being eligible to officiate playoff games, something should be done.

Back in January of last year after a game, Alexandre Burrows called out referee Stephane Auger. Burrows claimed that during the pre-game skate, Auger told him that Burrows had made him look bad on a call in a previous game against the Nashville Predators.

Burrows claimed that because of this, Auger said he was going to get him back. During the game, Auger called two questionable penalties on Burrows which prompted this post-game speech. The league after "investigation" fined Burrows and said that Auger didn't do anything wrong.

This isn't the first time Stephane Auger was involved in some on-ice controversy. In 2005, Auger gave Shane Doan a misconduct penalty. Auger claimed that Doan had verbally abused an official. He also claimed that Doan had used a slur against French-Canadians. The league went on to say that Auger's claims were false and couldn't be proved.

Now don't get me wrong I'm not saying Auger is the only official who is in question. Philadelphia Flyers fans wont forget Ghislain Hebert's call against when the Flyers played the Calgary Flames.

Hebert called Chris Pronger for what most people refer to as the "Avery rule." Pronger was screening the goalie during a power play in overtime. Mike Richards picked up a puck along the boards and Pronger raised his arm in front of Kiprusoff's face.

Replays showed that Hebert didn't go up with the arm at that moment. Instead, Pronger had time to put his hand back on his stick, take a slash from Kiprusoff and watch Richards' shot sail in to the net. After the puck went in, Hebert called Pronger for the penalty and waved off the goal.

Shouldn't that have been called right away? Why is it allowed to only be a penalty since a goal was scored? The Flyers ended up losing that game on a Rene Bourque goal in the same overtime. Philadelphia broadcasters later speculated that had Richards not scored, Pronger would have simply been warned.

The worst part about these calls is that after the game, players are faced with tough questions from reporters. Questions that they really can't answer. Questions that they have to be careful when answering because they may be fined.

My opinion is that if the officials aren't going to be fined, then at the very least they should have to take questions from the press when requested. As of now the referees aren't required to answer media questions.

It's not fair to the players that they have to answer questions about referee calls that they don't really know the answer to. Especially when these calls are bad calls or when there are questions about missed calls.

The NHL needs to step up and show the fans, players, coaches, GMs and owners that the referees are accountable. Show us all that everything is on the up-and-up. After all if everything is legit, why wouldn't you want everyone to know?


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