Skip to main content Blog: Time NHL officials take NFL, NBA, MLB approach

The Hockey News

The Hockey News

Let me start off by stating this is in no way meant to be a rant against NHL referees and linesmen. For the most part, the men in stripes do an admirable job adjudicating a fast-paced and sometimes frantic sport and should be commended for their work.

But it can be better. And it can be bettered by making one small provision.

Nary a National Football League game goes by where, after a flag is thrown, all the officials get together to discuss whether the potential penalty is debatable. Often this meeting of the minds results in the flag being picked up – no foul, no harm done.

Ditto for basketball. Who’d the ball go out of bounds off of? Let’s talk about it.

Same goes for baseball. Was the ball fair or foul? Time for a chat.

There’s no reason the NHL couldn’t adopt this same policy.

Even with two referees, penalties are often witnessed by only one or go unnoticed altogether. Equally as often, a penalty is called by one referee, but not by the other, even if he had a better view of the play.

Why then, if the ultimate goal is to get the call right, does the NHL not allow a post-penalty discussion, with the two referees coming together to talk about marginal or questionable calls?

They should. And if after the consultation it’s decided the wrong call was made, refs should be allowed to “pick up the flag,” so to speak.

Even better, the league should allow linesmen in on the conversation. Sometimes they’ll have a better – or at least alternative – view of the play that could help ensure the correct call or non-call is made. Eight eyes are better than four, and certainly an improvement on two.

To err is human, so perfection is an unattainable goal. But if allowing officials to conference and change calls gets it right more often, it seems like no-brainer.


San Jose, winners of five in a row and owners of an 18-3-1 record, are on pace for 138 points, which would surpass the NHL record of 132 set by the Montreal Canadiens in 1976-77.

Even without the assistance of the loser point, San Jose would still be scheduled to set the mark with 134.

Detroit, the league’s second-best team, is on pace for 124 points. The East’s top projection belongs to Boston at 119. Montreal, by the way, is heading towards a 109-point campaign.

Edward Fraser is the editor of His blog normally appears Thursdays.

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