Brind'Amour's fine justified, but he has a point
If Rod Brind’Amour ever needed a character reference, he would have hundreds from which to choose.
All of his coaches, most of his former teammates, every member of the media, even some of his rivals, would gladly put their hand on a bible and say Brind’Amour is a man of honor.
Put me on the stand, and I would call him a “class act.” He tries to live the right way, treating people fairly, always mindful that what he says and does can have an impact on the lives of others.
Brind’Amour deserved his $25,000 fine, and I bet he will say that. When team officials publicly criticize officiating, it undermines credibility more than an incorrect call on the ice. Coaches should be able to protest officiating, but I think most of us understand why it shouldn’t be done in a post-game press conference when emotions are still boiling over.
As a general rule, I don’t get overly excited about complaints against officiating. I have a newspaper clip in which a coach says officiating is the worst as it has ever been. The clip is from the 1930s.
We’ve been complaining about officiating since the league started 1917, and we will continue to complain through the next century. Hockey is an impossible game to officiate. Players skate too fast. Too much happens away from the puck. No matter how many rules you add, a penalty is almost always is a judgment call.
I’ve always believed the NHL has the world’s best officials, and they do the best they can given the constraints of the game’s speed and energy.
I don’t buy officiating conspiracy theories. I don’t think the Rangers or Canadiens or Bruins or any other team receives calls because the NHL wants them to be successful. I roll my eyes at that nonsense. I’ve long ago accepted that officials, in all sports, are always going to make mistakes and those mistakes are as much a part of NHL competition as sticks and pucks.
To be a champion, you have to defeat every opponent and be dominant enough that an official’s mistake isn’t going to cost you an important game.
But despite my beliefs on officiating, when Brind’Amour talks, I listen. This isn’t a guy who pops off on a regular basis. He’s careful, measured, thoughtful in his approach. He believed the Charlie Coyle goal in Game 1 should have been nullified by his challenge for a “missed game stoppage.”
Replays show Carolina goalie Petr Mrazek had his glove over the puck before the puck was knocked loose and Coyle scored.
But Brind’Amour’s challenge was rejected, and the Bruins were awarded a power play opportunity.
I was stunned by that decision. One of the basic tenets of crease play is action is stopped when the goalie covers the puck.
While I’m accepting of occasional officiating errors as part of the game, I expect a much higher degree of correctness when replay is involved.
NHL Network analyst Kevin Weekes, always level-headed, known for his fairness and professional takes, said this about the play: “It is clear Petr Mrazek has the puck here. I don’t know what to say.”
The NHL is justified in taking Brind’Amour’s money, but please pay attention to his point that there was an egregious officiating error in a very important playoff game. I don’t think we can say it cost the Hurricanes the game. After all, they scored a shorthanded goal on the ensuing power play.
But the league should, at the very least, review how that decision was reached because it is difficult to find too many people around the league that believe it was a just result.
This is the NHL playoffs, and everyone, including officials, have to raise their game. I don’t expect perfection in officiating. But shouldn't we expect a just decision when replay is used? I don't know how you can look at that replay and say the Hurricanes were treated fairly.