Obstruction, Officiaiting and a Bertuzzi Rant…..

There are three things that stir much discussion amongst the men in my family.

1) Why did they cancel Baywatch? (Briefly, the synopsis of every show: “Quick, we’ve got to disarm the bomb and make it back in time for the big bikini contest.”)

2) My Aunt Effie’s Jellied Carrot and Raisin Salad. (Is it dessert or a side dish)

3) The officiating in the NHL sucks.

At the beginning of the NHL season Andy Van HelleMond the NHL’s head of officiating, Colin Campbell, Vice President of the NHL and Gary Betteman the NHL head honcho held their own Yaltaesque conferences around the continent to let all the fans, players and coaches know that this would be the year in which the NHL would finally crack down on obstruction.

And lo the referees held their arms aloft and there was a parade to the penalty box and there was much rejoicing amongst the Jagr’s, Forsberg’s and Hull’s of the rink world.

To this date there have been almost 500 (Sporting News, January 17, 2003) obstruction penalties called by the referees. At this time last year there were only 174 obstruction penalties. (Sporting News, January 17, 2003) As a result of more penalties, power-play goals have numbered 1,055, up from 921.

Just by sheer attrition it seems as if the NHL has lived up to its end of the bargain by calling the obstruction penalties it said it would. Although the numbers have slightly decreased from the start of the season (down from 12.5 to 9.4 penalties per game avg.) obstruction seems to be on the outs according to the scions of the NHL.

My question is: Is anyone buying this spin job ?

I have seen every Canucks game this year and although I agree that at the beginning at the season there were more penalties being called there was also a marked “drag” to the flow of the game. To me it seems odd that an organization that markets itself as being built around moving fast would go to such great lengths to slow the game down with all those penalties.

Now, as a reaction to all those penalties it seems as if the NHL is cutting back on the pilgrimages to the penalty box. The penalties have gone way down and according to guys like Selanne, Jagr and Alan MacAuley the obstruction has returned.

I’m inclined to agree based solely on the last 10-12 Canucks games I have seen. (I’m using the Canucks as an example because I have seen every game of theirs this year, God Bless you DIRECTV) The holding, clutching and grabbing along with the interference seems to have jumped back up to the levels of last year. So, to me it seems all the NHL has done is reinforce the status quo.

This only makes the NHL officiating look more and more ridiculous. There is no way that they will be able to catch all those interference calls which will only lead to angrier and more frustrated fans, players and coaches. I think this is really true of late in cases where a lot of players, more then I can remember have been coming out and publicly challenging the referees poor calls or non-calls. Amonte, Bertuzzi, Thornton, Hull, Selanne, etc… have all got something to say about the refereeing as of late.

The most exemplified case concerns Vancouver’s own Todd Bertuzzi. Here’s a mountain of a guy that can barely be contained when he moves to the front of the net during most games. At the beginning of the year Bertuzzi had his own personal referee as every clutch and grab was called when he tried to move in the offensive zone especially. This resulted in guys having to play him without the grabbing and clutching and because of it there were many “le buts”. Let’s fast forward to the last week. In the Nashville game Bertuzzi took two sticks to the face and was dragged down in 7 different cases during the game.

Now, I’m an understanding fella, I don’t expect every call but come on. If the NHL was serious about calling the obstruction then they would call it regardless of situation, name on the jersey or score on the board. As a juicy little aside to the Bertuzzi example I thought it just oh so cheesey of the NHL’s chief lackey Colin Campbell to comment on Bertuzzi in front of the net. Here’s what he had to say:

“Campbell told Sun columnist Gary Mason on Thursday that a

push-off move that Bertuzzi likes to use against defencemen in

front of the opposition net is illegal. Bertuzzi scored the tying

goal in a game the Canucks went on to win against Nashville

on Jan. 14 at GM Place. Campbell has forwarded a tape of the

play to the two officials who worked that game, informing

them the move is illegal. He threatened to alert all league

officials if Bertuzzi continues to use it”

Is this for real ? Bertuzzi did push off and yes it is definitely a penalty but have you ever heard the NHL say that they were going to alert the referees about one guy using it ? Does that mean that they’re going to call every cross check, or fight for position in front of the net ? Will Marion Hossa, Forsberg or the other slight players around the league get called. I counted almost 11 cross checks on Bertuzzi when he stood in front of the Nashville net in the same game.

Well, let me know how you feel. I am not anti referee and if this comes across that way I may have missed the point. I am anti policy. I feel that if you’re going to enact policy then you have to be consistent every time and if you’re not it devalues what you’re trying to accomplish. You tell me, has the league’s new obstruction penalty crackdown improved the game ? Not to me.

18 Responses to Obstruction, Officiaiting and a Bertuzzi Rant…..

  1. mikster says:

    I’ve become an extreme anti-ref fan in most sports, but especially with the sport i love the most.

    Refs piss me off because they complicate things themselves. They blow more whistles on the marginal calls than the obvious calls. I watched the game Leafs vs Sabres, good God….horrible refs…just horrible. Kypreos disagreed, but that’s because he is not a player anymore.

    I like Phil Esposito (who hasn’t played in like 50 years). He says that the refs are horrible, and they are.

    Rangers game against Nashville. Rem Murray is on a breakway, Messier (the old man actually catched up to him) pressed his stick on Murray’s stick….Murray falls and it’s a penalty shot? It wasn’t such an easy angle for the ref, and defnitely not as bad as the one in Philly, but COME ON…that was a complete guess.

    It’s not only the on ice officials as well. Talk about the video goal judges awarding a goal to the Predators against the Rangers that should not have been awarded. Stick was above the cross bar, puck was above the cross bar and deflected downwards. I mean, why? Why call it a goal if it actually does not go with the rules in the book.

    Just like last season. Lindros deflected a puck that went upwards direction, and they disallowed the goal because the stick was above the cross bar. Was it? If it was, explain to me how the puck got in the net if it deflected upwards? Please, i would like to know….

    Game against the Thrashers. 2-1 Thrashers leading (damn Hartley is good), Rangers on a PP….Lindros slowly skating down the blueline so he stays on side….little Weaver backs up and bumps into Lindros. They cal it a penalty on Lindros…interference.

    WHA???? The ref was looking at them….the replay showed the ref looking at the play, from all angles it was just so obvious that there was nothing wrong on the play. YET ANOTHER GUESS CALL.

    I want these refs to call the obvious penalties, and they don’t. They rather take a guess.

    Also, they should be tougher on dives. A lot of players dive…this isn’t soccer damn it.

    I think Campbell should tell the refs about the divers instead of bitching about one player. He should let the refs know which players take more dives (i.e. Andreas Johansson, Mark Recchi, Tie Domi, Tucker, and many many many more….)

  2. Leaf_Expert says:

    Very good article!,

    The amount of penalties have decreased(which one would normally say is good)but the ones that are being called aren’t worth an obstruction call or a even penalty either!….

    This probably due to the two referee system. Their is usually one veteran official working with a younger referee. It makes no sense!

    Every Referee calls games differently and have their own views on the League rules. This Ref system is truly not working at all! And is ending up as a serious reason why fan attendance is low, and the looming death of the NHL is near….


  3. CaptainCanuck says:

    The oficiating sucks. I was watching that game (Canucks and Preds) and I was amazed at what I saw. It was almost like the refs didn’t care. Bertuzzi got highsticked who knows how many times, and in one incedent they even cut him. I mean come on!!! You can see the blood, where’s the call! I think the only way to improve the oficiating is to is to go back to the one ref system. Allot of the refs now are new and don’t now what there doing. If we were using the one ref system it would be mostly veterans and less mistakes would be made

  4. Sensfan says:

    I’m not saying that you are wrong but, from watching all the games you watch, how many times does the ref make a call that you did not see before the replay. From the TV you get a very good but different point of view. We should tally up these missed fan calls and rate ourselves

  5. Aetherial says:

    No question that the obstruction calls have decreased and the game is creeping back to lat year’s standards. I do not doubt for a second that this is being done on purpose.

    There is a precedent for the Bertuzzi push-off move. The McCabe can-opener was gievn the same treatment by the league.

  6. titans says:

    “Carrot and Raisin salad”??? Good God! And what do you do with this “Carrot and Raisin Salad”??

  7. mikster says:


    Ok, Doig totally knocks out Lindros, and Lindros is ok, no concussion. However, Messier jumped in, then Purinton jumped in, so did Sutherby, then two other Capitals players, then Nedved, and so on…

    It was a scrum, players were basically fighting….Sutheryby even punched Lindros in the back of the head.

    In the end, Purinton got kicked out of the game,Nedved, Messier, and Lindros got the penalty….

    What did Capitals get? Nothing. All penalties towards the Rangers.

    Begining of the game….

    Halpern punches Holik in a scrum, Halpern has a visor, he should be kicked outof the game, and WAS NOT. Then, Grier jumps in AS THIRD MAN IN. Then Lundmark jumps in, Mironov jumps in and his gloves are off.

    Results: Halpern 10 game misconduct, Holik 2 minute minors, Mironov kicked out of the game for 3rd man in.

    These refs are ****ing clueless. They ruined the game, lost control of the game.

    This is not just the first game either.

    What an embarrassment….refs are clueless, can’t do their job right.

    This is unacceptable…what bullshit these refs are. The even take 20 minutes to decide the situation. CLUELESS…

    Just horrible…. It is unacceptable to see refs lose control of the game and make the wrong calls.

    It’s not thta hard to make calls when you see one guy fighting another guy, and one more guy from the other team jumps in.


    ONE In a Rangers jersey

    TWO in a Capitals jersey.

    TWO…….TWO……one two three. Do these zebras need to learn how to count too?

    Unacceptable. Refs suck, it’s 100% true, facts are facts…the NHL just doesn;t have enough balls to admit it. Bettman is a homosexual bastard, Campbell thinks he actually has a job.

    Refs blow zebras…..

  8. garry1221 says:

    i agree w/ everything said here, refs suck, how can u call phantom penalty after phantom penalty but when something blatant as a hold or cross check is seen ( right in front of their face ) it’s not called… the refs r clueless, i blame it mostly on bettman’s lips attached to the opposite ends of corporate america… without that we still would have the game we all grew to love back, with it there’s nothing but clueless sheep being herded around by the shepherd bettman, …. you can’t expect to throw a whole new rulebook at the refs each year and expect em to know what the hell they’re calling…. another thing that gets me is when the ref at center ice is able to call a hold that occurs deep in the zone right in front of the other refs face, i mean come on…. even in football when a penalty’s called they have a conference to determine if there actually was a penalty ….and when they’re wrong they admit it…new concept or what :O… but it’s clear to me w/ the number of calls going down the refs, if not van hellemond himself, are trying their best to bring back the game we all know and love, instead of the circus on ice that was at the beginning of the season

  9. wingerxx says:

    I was hoping that someone would write about this, and thank goodness someone did. I am a Rangers fan, but even if I wasn’t, I would think the officiating in this game, is some of the worst I have ever seen in my life. The game was totally and utterly ruined. You would have thought they were in the Capital’s back pocket, no offense of course to Caps fans. My jaw dropped after the idiotic calls after the Holik/Halpern/Mironov, etc. scrap. Granted, the Rangers are overall a nastier team than the Caps, but every call was going against them. When the Caps were practically getting away with everything short of murder. I’m not bashing the Caps. I’m bashing the refs in this game. What an embarrassment to hockey. And its happening more and more, which is even more horrifying.

  10. wingerxx says:

    Lindros has been getting raped by the refs all year long. Its got to be getting to his head, and I don’t blame him. Its no wonder he’s not having the year we all thought he would. If I were in Lindros’ skates, I’d be practically losing my mind right now…

    It feels weird defending the refs on this topic…but Andreas Johansson has to be the most skilled diver in the league. I mean…its almost…beautiful in a sick, twisted way, his technique of diving. He’s perfected it. Domi has nothing on this guy. 30 years from now, divers all over the league will be studying tapes of Johansson to try and perfect their own techniques. He’s so good that if another player and Johansson were skating in opposite directions, and they passed each other with 8 feet of ice between them, and if Johansson went down, if I were the ref, I’d blow the whistle. He’s that good! Immaculate I should say. I still think the Rangers made a mistake by letting him go.

  11. rojoke says:

    Here’s what happened in season’s past, and this season. Half the league bitches and moans about all the clutching and grabbing in the game today. Gary, Colin/Brian and Andy/Brian announce there’s gonna be a crackdown on obstruction during the season. Everybody says great. Around November, half the league bitches and moans that the games are being called too tightly, there’s too many penalties, and there’s no flow to the game. The ref’s hear half the league bitching and moaning, so they decide to lighten up a little bit. Eventually, things regress to where they were before the season started. Then, come season’s end, half the league bitches and moans that there’s too much clutching and grabbing in the game. And we’re back to square one.

    So want to know what the solution is. Gary, Colin and Andy should just SHUT UP!!! Tell the referees to call every single hold, hook, hack and grab they see. When they announce these crackdowns, they give the players the automatic excuse, “it’s not me, it’s the refs.” If there’s no announced crackdown, then they have no one else to shift the blame to. Call the third just like the second, just like the first. Call the last game just like the 41st game, just like the 1st game. And tell the bitchers and moaners to just shut up and play.

  12. titans says:

    Down boy! Do’nt you think you come off as a little bit of a hypocrite by telling other people not to curse and then going off on thin tyrade?

  13. Goldenscud says:

    Hey, the Refs are going to make mistakes – that is inevitable. At least the picked the right team to do it to. F the Rangers!!! Nothing is more satisfying then to see those b*t*h*s get whalloped 7-2!! So much for their comeback to the playoffs!!!!!

  14. wingerxx says:

    you’ll be singin a different tune ,i’m sure, when the refs piledrive your team into the ground with bad calls.

  15. saiklo says:

    Hey. Mario complained about this 15 games in to the season, and you all called him whiny, and that the new style was destroying the “flow” of the game. Well now you will get the crappy 1-0 style games that you asked for.

  16. mikster says:

    bahhhh all i said was bullshit. 10 year olds say that now.

    Obviously if i j ust posted “Bullshit” yeah…something wrong with that.

  17. aaron says:

    Refs have the most difficult job in the world. I would NEVER, NEVER, EVER, in my LIFE want to be a ref. I play on a hockey team, and EVERYONE on it agrees that the refs have a horrible job. They get dissed on no matter what they do. The most vocal, physical players, who think every ref sucks, and bitch about every call in the game, say they could never be a ref b/c every call they make is going to be disputed.

    Its ridiculous. They call everything, they get bitched at for calling everything and slowing the game down. They call nothing, they get bitched at for letting the game fall into obstruction. Now, they’re getting blamed for dropping fan attendence? Are you insane? Its frickin’ ludicrous!

    I feel sorry for refs. I bitch at them as much as the next guy, but I’m not going to say that they all suck and that they’re ruining the game of hockey. Most of the reason they’re so inconsistant is b/c they’re constantly being subjected to the ever changing whims of the fans (which tend to be the exact opposite of what the refs are doing…until the refs change their calling to conform to what the fans want, in which case the fans immeadiately want what they were bitching about before).

    I hate to say it, but Bettman should just ignore the opinion of the fans, b/c the officiating will never be consistant if he has to keep up with your bitching.


  18. habsoverserver says:

    Either the games have become more difficult to call or the referees are being more poorly trained. But the team that learns to adapt to the situation wins. Every great team took what leeway the refs gave them. The Flyers of the 70’s, Isles of the early 80’s and Oilers of the mid 80’s all used the system to their advantage. I think the disciplined defensive teams of today like the Devils have figured out how to win with the current reffing situation.

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