It’s silly season in the NHL, where fights are going to be more common along with outlandishness on ice and off. Yet there’s been a consistent issue on-ice of outlandishness that has baffled players: Officiating and rule enforcement.
It’s been a thing of note for months that players have been confused and voiced such things. I think it was Henrik Zetterberg’s comments earlier this month really set a benchmark to put the issue on the table:
What Henrik Zetterberg had to say: “The inconsistency in this league right now, if it’s the refs or it’s the guys in Toronto or if it’s the suspensions or if it’s the fines, it’s hard for us as players to know what rules we are playing under.”
— Helene St. James (@HeleneStJames) February 4, 2018
And yes, it is a far and wide problem in the league at the moment. Zetterberg’s comments weren’t the first time this season that someone spoke out about the issue of inconsistency of officiating and rule enforcement, but it was the first time it came out so direct. Non-players saw the writing on the wall since the very beginning of 2017-18: All About the Jersey has a write up about it dated October 19, 2017.
With that said, Zetterberg’s comments have been one-upped by way of goalie Cam Talbot of the Edmonton Oilers. Talbot is pissed:
“There’s no consistency and I’m f*****g sick of it. It’s f*****g ridiculous. You can quote me, they can fine me, I don’t give a f*** anymore.” — Oilers goalie Cam Talbot on the mystery that is goaltender interference in the NHL
— Rob Tychkowski (@Rob_Tychkowski) February 18, 2018
Fined for speaking out? Fined for the profanity? Dude, we – NHL fans in general – would be wise to fundraise to pay him back. Just because you speak out when frustration mounts to where it is shouldn’t bring fines. Even if f-bombs are thrown with the angst brought on by things.
I expect people to call for rule changes in order to bring back consistent rule enforcement in the NHL. A keep-it-simple-stupid type of thing that opens up the game more… And yet, that’s the problem that’s helped bring us to this point in hockey: Rule changes with regularity. It’s tough to be consistent calling the rules when they are tweaked after each season. That by itself encourages inconsistency. It’s not like referees and those working in Toronto are going to classes to learn about the rules and regulations… They’re learning on the fly during league play. And in this case, they’re not learning because the high-and-mighty in Toronto at the league offices aren’t doing a very good job to raise the standard that’s a star-studded stupor at current.
Maybe things will be less vague and gonzo during the NHL playoffs? Then again, seeing the league announce a rule tweak or change just for the 2018 Stanley Cup Playoffs wouldn’t be out of the question either… Setting the stage again for referees and on-ice officials to make a screw-up or not enforce the new standard when they see it happen (while Toronto sits idle in reaction to the inconsistency).