Hey Kerry, finally found your website! Didn't know where you blog's went on TSN.. And I haven't been too angry at any games yet to seek out referee answers until now. My question.. What did you think of the Oilers and Coyotes game? I felt that the referee's made heaps of bad calls throughout the game. From non calls, missed calls, and major penalties that didn't warrant it. Be good to see what you agreed and disagreed with. Kelvin
Ask The Ref?
I apologize for any difficulty that you had finding me at kerryfraser.com this season. I'll attempt to do a better job in that regard and would appreciate your assistance in getting the word out as well.
I'm not sure if my response to your question will help sooth your anger or fan the fire? I hope it is the former! I had not seen the Oilers-Coyotes game but felt your highly critical opinion of the referee crew of Chris Lee and Jon McIsaac deserved a fair and honest answer. For that reason I watched the entire game, taking notes throughout.
I have also attached the clip you sent me in your second email with your reference comments below:
Just how is that allowable? Especially with the Ref watching the whole thing going on.
To my trained eye and judgment as an NHL referee, similar to that of Chris Lee - who approached the two players (Connor McDavid and Connor Murphy) and was "watching the whole thing going on" - the actions of Murphy did not warrant a penalty. Let me explain why...
As McDavid circled below the goal line and turned toward the front of the net Murphy squared up and stood his ground. Seeing the 6'4" obstacle in his path, McDavid raised his stick, moved into Murphy and physically engaged with the Coyotes defenseman. Through that physical confrontation, initiated by McDavid in large part, a legal battle ensued for position in front of the net - a common occurrence countless times throughout every game.
Calling the jockey for position a "battle" is an overstatement as both players were somewhat off-balance and the physicality was light. As McDavid's body position bent at the waist and took his upper torso in front of Murphy, it was actually McDavid that raised his back skate off the ice and became a stork-attempting to balance on one leg.
McDavid's lowered posture and movement in front of Murphy resulted in the Coyote player's left hand resting on and applying minimal force/pressure on the Oiler Captain's helmet. McDavid assisted in his "light fall" by continuing to rotate his body while on one skate. The puck had exited the Oilers attacking zone long before both players were fully entangled and eventually fell to the ice. This is clearly no harm--no foul...play on!
Another play that had Oilers fans Tweeting up a storm was when Jordan Martinook landed on top of, guess who - Connor McDavid - and took a mini toboggan ride on the Captain. This too, was not a penalty infraction.
McDavid carried the puck through the neutral zone and started to fall to the ice as he dished a pass to the Eberle on the right side at the attacking blue line. Martinook was in close pursuit at the time and stumbled over and on top of the fallen Oilers' Captain. The two players slid from the blue line to the low slot.
Granted, Martinook was in no hurry to get off McDavid, but the minor delay in doing so had absolutely no bearing on the play. Another no harm--no foul situation.
That is not to suggest that the crews overall performance was without some irregularities however. With 10:07 remaining in the 1st period Jordan Eberle was clipped with a high-stick moving through the slot in traffic. While the foul was correctly detected, the specific Coyote player committing the infraction was not. Martin Hanzal was sent to the box instead of Oliver Ekman-Larsson. It sometimes happens - done it myself, but fortunately I was able to get the non-guilty player to 'rat-out' his teammate before anyone took a seat in 'timeout'.
I must admit that two plays in this game resulting in major penalty calls were incorrectly ruled upon - at least in my judgment.
Eric Gryba was assessed a major penalty and ejected from the game (reported illegal check to the head) for a legal body check on Jacob Chychrun with 14:18 remaining in the 3rd period. There is no provision in rule 48 for a major and game misconduct - a match penalty only can remove a player from the game under this infraction.
Chychrun was being rubbed along the wall in front of the players bench by Zack Kassian. The contact, combined with Chychrun's effort to squeeze through the narrow passage, resulted in a bent posture below the top of the boards. Gryba was in the act of delivering a reverse legal body check and initiated contact on Chychrun in an appropriate manner. The damage to Chychrun's nose occurred when both players fell to the ice in a normal outcome of contact. Gryba accidentally landed on the head of the Arizona player. No penalty of any sort was deserved.
A lengthy conference between the officiating crew followed (one of several throughout the contest) and somehow it was thought that Gryba targeted the head of his opponent?
With 43.8 seconds remaining in the game another suspect match penalty was imposed, this time against Zack Kassian for delivering a solid cross-check to the upper back/shoulder area of Oliver Ekman-Larsson. Kassian glided toward Ekman-Larsson and delivered the cross-check in retaliation for a hard body check the Coyotes player finished on Matt Hendricks in a lost footrace on a potential icing play. Hendricks won the race nullifying the icing but paid the price with a hard legal check delivered by Ekman-Larsson.
I have read in various media outlets where Kassian's cross-check is being described as "vicious". I don't see it that way at all. Yes it was delivered with some force and strength but "vicious" it was not.
Vicious, in terms of a match penalty, should be reserved for one like we saw from Ottawa's Mike Hoffman to the head of Logan Coutour which resulted in a two game suspension. Hoffman travelled at least 40 feet in a thought-out, planned retaliatory attack and delivered a blow with his stick to the back of the head of his opponent.
Kassian appeared to make a quick reflex decision to administer a cross-check to a protected area of the his opponents torso once within range. The blow was worthy of a minor penalty as Ekman-Larsson got up off the ice and was ready to play once the dust-up finished.
Kassian knew the Cavalry would be charging and immediately turned and threw off his gloves to defend.
The unlucky Coyote recipient of Kassian's stiff-arm right was Anthony Duclair. This was quickly followed up with a left hook. Before any further damage could be inflicted Shane Doan brought calm to the altercation, acting as a peacemaker by wrapping Kassian and pinning Zack to the ice with soothing conversation in the Oiler tough guy's ear.
The end result of all this Kelvin, is that the team that deserved to win, by virtue of their superior play, did so. The calls that we might disagree with the referees on, had no bearing on the final outcome of the game, nor did they result in a power play goal. While we would like to see officiating perfection, an unattainable goal for each of us that has worn the stripes, I hope that you are no longer angry. I have provided as fair and honest an assessment as humanly possible. Every one of us are susceptible to human error no matter what our profession.
For more live discussion on all this and other issues click on the link to Jason Gregor show on TSN Radio.