Earlier this season, I was covering a game between the Ottawa Senators and Montreal Canadiens at the Bell Centre. The Senators were trailing in the third period when Ottawa defenceman Andre Benoit threw a point shot through traffic that somehow found the back of the net. Tie game, right?
Eh, not so fast. What had already been an atrocious reffing performance turned downright absurd with this call.
No goal, two minutes for Silfverberg. The Habs knew it was a goal (no reaction from Price, other than to look disappointed), the fans knew it was goal, though they were pleasantly surprised. And Senators coach Paul MacLean certainly knew it was a goal. Nobody would have been surprised if he’d dropped a few verbal bombs on the officials after the game.
So what did he do when he was asked about the play?
Stared. And then stared some more.
Why would he do this? A couple reasons. First, MacLean lashed out at the referees in his first season with the Senators after Dan O’Rourke called star defenceman Erik Karlsson a “diver” during a game in Anaheim. The Senators paid for it on the ice in the weeks that followed. MacLean actually spoke about learning not to mess with the refs during the first-round series against the Montreal Canadiens this season.
Second, the National Hockey League is absolutely cutthroat when it comes to dealing with those who criticize officiating and discipline. It even added new disciplinary measures ahead of this lockout-shortened season, which were detailed in the press release announcing the San Jose Sharks had been fined $100,000 for comments by general manager Doug Wilson regarding the suspension of Raffi Torres for the balance of the second round of the playoffs.
And here’s the applicable section of Article 6 of the NHL Constitution (which lays out the powers of the commissioner), which was included in court documents filed in a dispute between the league and former Phoenix Coyotes owner Jerry Moyes.
As Doug Wilson and the Sharks were reminded this week, the National Hockey League’s thought police are always on duty.
Sometimes, the only thing left to do is stare in amazement, which kind of makes the point anyway (it’s cheaper, too).
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