posted on February 04, 2013 00:00
On January 2, 2012, New York Rangers head coach John Tortorella had this to say about the officiating crew (which included Ian Walsh) at the Winter Classic when his team took on the Philadelphia Flyers:
"I'm not sure if NBC got together with the refs," Tortorella said to reporters after the game, regarding Ian Walsh and Dennis LaRue. "It started with the non-call (when) (Marian Gaborik) was pitch-forked in the stomach, and then everything starts going against us. They're two good referees; I thought the game was refereed horribly. So I'm not sure what happened there. Maybe they wanted to get it to an overtime. I'm not sure if they have meetings about that or what. But we stood in there. They're good guys. But in that third period, it was disgusting."
Tortorella was fined $30,000 for daring to question the almighty and powerful NHL officials who in the league’s mind, are infallible.
In April of last year, the Chicago Blackhawks and Phoenix Coyotes were facing off against each other in a first round playoff game. Coyotes left winger Raffi Torres left his feet on a brutal hit that sent Blackhawks winger Marian Hossa to the hospital in an ambulance. Torres was never penalized on the play. Once again, Ian Walsh was on the ice and didn’t make the call. Blackhawks head coach Joel Quennville was incensed.
“I had a hard time. I saw exactly what happened,” he said. “How four guys missed it tonight, it was hard. The refereeing tonight was a disgrace.”
Coach Q was fined $10,000 for having the audacity to question the people who apparently are comparable to the great and powerful Oz. Meanwhile, Torres was suspended 25 games by the NHL for the hit. The suspension was then reduced by four games to 21. Torres is now back playing for the Coyotes.
On Friday night, the Blues were deadlocked with the Red Wings 3-3 in a back and forth hockey game in Detroit. The Note had battled back from a 2-0 deficit to take a 3-2 lead going into the third period. After Jonathan Ericsson tied it for the Wings four minutes and 31 seconds into the third, both teams seemed to be on their way to an overtime affair.
Then Ian Walsh happened.
With ten minutes and 22 seconds remaining in the third, Walsh called a penalty that was the turning point in the hockey game. Blues captain David Backes delivered a clean hit to the sternum of defenseman Kent Huskins. Not only did the incompetent Walsh call a penalty on the hit, he called a match penalty for “illegal contact to the head”.
The Wings received a gift in the form of a five minute power play on which center Pavel Datsyuk scored to give the Wings a 4-3 lead. Henrik Zetterberg closed out the game with a shorthanded goal with thirteen seconds left to seal the victory for the Wings at 5-3.
After the game, Blues head coach Ken Hitchcock was asked about the Backes hit.
"I'm not going to comment on that," Hitchcock said. "It was a big turning point and it turned out being the turning point of the game."
It certainly was. With the season being only 48 games, the Blues need every point possible and to lose one to two valuable points on a call from a referee who never got a clear view of the play to begin with, only shows the complete incompetence of the officials who call games in the National Hockey League.
The NHL admitted as such without admitting it on Saturday when they cleared Backes of any wrongdoing and said that he wouldn’t be viewed as a repeat offender in the future.
Thanks NHL. I’m sure Backes appreciates you clearing his name for something he should have never had to be cleared for in the first place.
As if Friday night’s debacle wasn’t enough, Walsh struck again on Saturday in Toronto when the Maple Leafs hosted the Bruins. The Bruins had a goal disallowed by Walsh at 6:30 of the second when the puck appeared to deflect off Tyler Seguin's skate past Leafs goalie James Reimer. The NHL said Walsh was in the process of calling the play dead before the puck went in, because of incidental contact between Boston's Brad Marchand and Reimer. Marchand ended up crashing into the end boards on the play and went to the dressing room. He didn't finish the game.
Thankfully for the Bruins, they won the game 1-0.
What puzzles me is why are the players and the coaches the only ones who are penalized, suspended, and fined for their actions and or comments? Where is the accountability for the officials? Why isn’t a guy like Walsh who seems to have a history of being completely senile allowed to continue to officiate hockey games? I understand that officials are human, but too many times they make themselves the center of attention. They have this misplaced sense that the fans are paying their money to see THEM and not the players.
If Gary Bettman wants his sport to be taken seriously, he needs to put the flame to Director of Officiating Terry Gregson’s rear end. There should be a review system in place that allows for the suspension or demotion of officials such as Walsh who make glaring mistakes in games. Maybe then you will start seeing the quality of the games get better.