In his latest blog that has been posted over on TSN’s website, former NHL referee Kerry Fraser responded to the concerns of the tinfoil hat wearing Senators fans who, for whatever reason, believed that a former league official would assure them that the fix was in. That in this case, two professional referees – Tim Peel and Dan O’Rourke – conspired and willingly ignored their own personal moral compass so that they could compromise the integrity of the game and ensure that Ottawa would lose?
Hmm, that sounds completely reasonable. Let’s take a closer look at what was said in the article itself.
Jamie in Ottawa writes:
I can’t understand how the Sens are consistently the highest penalized team in the league. It is bordering on the ridiculous.
Well Jamie, thanks to the 282 penalties that have been called against them, the Senators have been shorthanded 211 times and have accumulated 754 minutes in penalties. This trio of statistics puts them atop the league in each category.
Breaking this down further, Ottawa has:
- Three players with 20 or more minor penalties and as a collective, the team has racked up 228 minor penalties (2nd most in the NHL)
- 38 major penalties (tied for 2nd most)
- 7 misconducts (tied for the 8th most)
- 2 game misconducts (tied for 5th most)
- 7 bench minors (tied for 4th most)
- An average of 14.2 PIM per game (3rd highest rate in NHL)
Over the past three seasons, the Senators have ranked in the bottom third of the league in average PIM per game. Much of this has to do with the way that Bryan Murray has molded this team. It’s no secret that the GM has a proclivity for big and physical players. Like it or not, the Senators roster is littered with a number of players who play an agitating and physical game that is conducive to taking penalties.
Thanks to the contributions (for lack of a better term) of Konopka, Neil, Foligno, Smith and Carkner, Ottawa has five players on their team whose PIMs exceed their number of games played.
Moving on, Greg in New Brunswick writes:
There is always talk about bringing in more digitized officiating and I used to be against it, however the officiating this year in the NHL and against Ottawa particularly, seems to be “game-altering”, which is certainly not what we want. Chris Phillips was called for covering the puck in the crease which led to a penalty shot for the opponent.
More digitized refereeing? Obviously Greg in New Brunswick is unaware that the NHL Situation Room is housed next door to the Air Canada Center. We need more tinfoil!
And on another note, how in the hell was that awarded penalty shot game altering? After a decent first period, the Senators were being badly outshot in the second period and trailed 3-0 at the time of the call. Unlike NFL referees who have the luxury of replay to make the correct calls, the referee made a judgment call when he saw Chris Phillips use his hand to play the puck. Was it the wrong call? Absolutely, but with that being said, Ottawa’s not the only team of late that has been hosed on some blown calls. Both the Phoenix Coyotes and Maple Leafs have had goals waved off in the past week because of non-existent goaltender interference. If there’s a positive to be taken from these kinds of incidents, it’s that there should be a movement to embrace the use of replay to get these kinds of crease calls right.
Finally, Tim from Ottawa writes:
There is no way one team in a single game should be given three, four, five power plays in a game and the other team gets none. There is no way a single team should be down by that many minutes in penalties for or against.
If I had the money of Melnyk, I’d offer to pay any fine MacLean can get for screaming at the league/refs for the blatant bias. As I only have the money that I have, I will probably stop watching NHL altogether as if a fix isn’t in, then the quality of the refereeing is disgusting.
Does anyone actually believe that a guy who felt so passionately about a lack of even up calls that he would take the time to craft a personal email to Kerry Fraser is really serious about giving up watching NHL hockey?
How old are you Tim, twelve?
In the Sens games that Dan O’Rourke and Tim Peel have refereed this season, the penalties tally up as follows:
- January 31st @ Boston: zero power plays for Ottawa & four for Boston
- January 23rd @ LA: five power plays for each team
- January 21st @Anaheim: two power plays for Ottawa & three for Anaheim.
- November 27th vs Carolina: four power plays for & eight penalties for Carolina
- January 24th @ Phoenix: three power plays for each team
- January 23rd @ LA: five power plays for each team
- December 22nd vs Florida: two power plays for Ottawa & five for Florida
- November 20th @ Vancouver: five power plays for Ottawa & four for Vancouver
- October 22nd vs Columbus: two power plays for Ottawa & four for Columbus
In summary, in games in which O’Rourke has done, Ottawa has had 11 power plays while their opponents have had 20. Additionally, in games in which Peel has refereed, Ottawa has had 17 power plays and their opponents 21.
Bias or not, Fraser did his best to calm down the pitchfork and torches crowd that clamour for even-up calls.
Referees do not act as accountants to balance the books. It is not their job to make sure each team receives an equal number of penalties by the end of the game.
This conspiracy theory has gotten way out of hand. Mistakes are made in a game and they most often result from a deficient sight line when ruling on a play, just like the penalty shot that was called in error against Chris Phillips. Please believe me when I tell you they are honest mistakes. Each official takes his responsibility to uphold the integrity of the game very seriously.
How seriously do they want to preserve the sanctity of the game?
Over my many years as a professional referee, I have been cussed at in the most vile language imaginable by players and coaches, spat upon (one time directly into my open mouth from close range by a player in the IHL), physically attacked, had a helmet thrown at me by Theo Fleury, a stick launched like a javelin off the LA Kings bench by then coach Tom Webster, ducked a water bottle thrown at my head by Wings captain Reed Larson and countless pucks that ‘not so accidentally’ came in my direction. None of these things infuriated me more than being called a “cheater” (biased) or “gutless” (coward)!
Kerry Fraser would rather have a player spit into his mouth than be called a ‘cheater’ or ‘gutless’? That’s disgusting!
At least Paul MacLean hit the nail on the head after the Bruins game by saying, “I can see … it’s easy to point that finger (at the referees). But to be honest with you, the Senators haven’t played well enough to win. And that’s the bottom line.”
Amen. Fans can blame the schedule. Fans can blame the team travel. Fans can blame the referees and fans can blame the All-Star break. Truth is, the Senators haven’t played well since beating Pittsburgh on January 10th and they need to turn things around or risk sliding further in the standings. So long as the players and organization don’t feel sorry for themselves or use recent events as a crutch, they’ll be better for it. Besides, if you want a real conspiracy, go read up on last night’s Blue Jackets/Kings game.