Why a Hockey Referee’s Job is Very Difficult


Game decisions have to be made at lightning speed, and you also have to be able to avoid bumping into hockey players and dodging the flying puck. And the fans don’t give you a break.

They know exactly how to interpret a given moment, especially after the fourth or fifth replay. 

All these factors lead to the fact that, at times, referees commit truly monstrous blunders.

Some of them have no impact on the game, while others can turn a match upside down.

detroit log angeles

Detroit – Los Angeles 2019

Usually, when the referee doesn’t see the puck he blows his whistle, but this time, something went wrong.

After a shot by Detroit defenseman Niklas Kronval and a ricochet from an opposing striker hit the barrier net, which is behind the goal.

There was no whistle. The puck was out of sight of the hockey players for a very long time and hit Los Angeles goalie Jonathan Quik in the back, who put the game tool into his own goal.

The outrage of the Los Angeles Kings team was endless. Everyone, including the spectators in the stands, understood that the shot should have been followed by a whistle, but it wasn’t. The referee simply did not notice the hit to the barrier net.

He could not overturn his decision, because such a situation is not subject to video review. The result of this mistake was that the Detroit hockey players were able to tie the game 26 seconds before the end of regulation time.

It is worth explaining why the referees could not watch the replay. The coaching staff can request replays from the referees because:

  • suspicion of offside: if there was no offside, the team requesting a replay is penalized by a 2-minute penalty;
  • suspicion of interference with the goalkeeper in the goal crease;
  • if there is a questionable moment of play and it is not visible whether the puck has crossed the goal line.

It is not possible to see if the puck flew out of the rink. Neither the referees nor the coaching staff has such an option.

This is why a situation has arisen where everyone understands that the outcome of the match is illegitimate, but cannot do anything about it.


Detroit – Chicago 2016

In the regular season game between Chicago and Detroit, it was a real struggle. With 27 seconds left in regulation time, a Chicago defender made a solo pass to the goal and left all the opposing players behind.

The same Nicklas Kronval tried to stop Baflin and knocked his opponent’s stick off without any trouble. 

Either the referee’s wrong position or his nerves prevented him from considering a clean play episode, after which a penalty shot was awarded to Detroit with 27 seconds left in regulation time. A gross error by the referee.

Vegas - San Jose 2019

Vegas – San Jose 2019

In the seventh game of the 2019 playoff series, everything was going towards a sure win for Vegas, as with 10 minutes to go in the third period, the gap was three pucks in favor of Vegas.

But then Joe Pavelski’s collision with Cody Eakin happened and everything was turned upside down. 

The replay showed that the contact was at most pulling two minutes if it should have been penalized at all. Just an accident intervened and Pavelski was injured by an unfortunate landing on the ice.

The referees had no opportunity to watch the replay and gave the hapless Ikin a 5-minute penalty.

During this time the San Jose Sharks hit Vegas 4 times and managed to get back in the game. After that, the game went into overtime where the Sharks hockey players were stronger.

The episode was the biggest and most blatant refereeing error in recent memory. The entire hockey world discussed the episode and the referee was subsequently suspended from refereeing NHL hockey games.

It was also written about by the best cricket betting sites.

Nashville vs Dallas 2012

Nashville vs Dallas 2012

Offsides unnoticed by the referees are still quite common, but as a rule, they occur during an attack, when several hockey players enter the zone at once.

In such cases, it is difficult for the referee to keep an eye on both the puck and the players. That was not the case in the regular season game between Nashville and Dallas in 2012-13. 

Matt Duchene got the puck in the back of the net, a few feet from the blue line, but the referees somehow managed to see the offside and there was no call for a stop. Remarkably, even Duchene himself straightened up and thought the play was over.

The Nashville defenders did the same. However, there was no stoppage. The forward rejoined the game and continued on his way to the opponents’ goal, outplaying the opposing goalie and throwing the puck into the net.

Carolina Hurricanes and the New Jersey Devils

New Jersey vs Carolina

In the 2009 playoff game between the Carolina Hurricanes and the New Jersey Devils, the goaltender was overlooked and his decision had a major impact on the outcome of the game. With 0.2 seconds left in the game, New Jersey had no chance of getting back into the game. 

At first, it appeared that the Hurricanes had scored after regulation time and that was the reason for the protest by the Devil’s coaching staff, but in fact, the claim was that Martin Brodeur was blocked moments before the resulting shot.

The referees ignored the comments of the coaching staff and the New Jersey team as a whole and counted the goal. Marty was enraged and even tried to break his stick. It didn’t work and he just tossed it aside.

St Louis - Boston 2019

St Louis – Boston 2019

The referees in the fifth game of the final playoff series between the St Louis Blues and the Boston Bruins showed astonishing indifference.

Right in front of the referee, Tyler Bozak overturned Noel Acciari. Even people far removed from hockey could see that it was two minutes. Bozak attacked his opponent from the back and with his foot out in front. An obvious tripping move.

The match should have been stopped and Bozak sent off for his deserved 2 minutes, but that didn’t happen.

The St Louis attack continued. Assiari dropped out of the game episode because he was injured. The Blues hockey players took advantage of the resulting numerical advantage and threw the puck into the goal, increasing the lead to two goals in the game. How anyone could have missed the infraction is beyond comprehension.

Dallas - Buffalo 1999 National Hockey League

Dallas – Buffalo 1999

Finally, an infraction that might not even be considered an infraction now, but which did change the course of league history. In the 1998-99 season, the National Hockey League had a rule prohibiting the attacking team from being in the goalie net if the puck was outside the goalie net. The exceptions were when a player with his skates in the goalie area controlled the puck.

Throughout the season, goals scored in this way were canceled out. In the Stanley Cup decisive game, however, the referees decided to make an exception.

During the third overtime of Game 6 between Dallas and Buffalo, with the series score 3-2 in Dallas’ favor, Brett Hull skated the puck, which was released by Dominik Hasek, and scored the decisive goal of the series. The puck earned Dallas the Stanley Cup.

The scored puck caused controversy and scandal with the result that the rule was abolished. Nevertheless, Buffalo fans still recall that final and the cup being stolen by the referees.

To be fair, the elimination of that rule had a positive effect on the game. Fans can now see more goals scored and aggressive play in the home and away corners has become a very important aspect of the game. 

In those days the National Hockey League experimented strangely with the rules. The ban on passes over 2 lines, which deprived spectators of beautiful passes under another’s the blue line and one-on-one exits with the goalie, stands out.

Fortunately, the National Hockey League governing body is not stupid and they made the right decisions which greatly improved the game and made it more entertaining and dynamic.

Only he who does nothing is not wrong. Hockey referees are no exception. Even in the best league in the world, which many times overtakes the other championships, no one is immune from refereeing mistakes.

The only shame is that because of these mistakes the teams suffer, who end up in the playoffs, and sometimes lose the main trophy in world hockey altogether. 

Not to mention the players in the betting shops. It is difficult to imagine how a person watches a match in which his team leads 3-0 in the game and then concedes 4 pucks in reply with 10 minutes to go.

The person who bets on the opposing team is happy. But it is better if the outcome of the game is decided fairly and not by the referees making the wrong decisions.


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