Columbus Blue Jackets Keep Getting Screwed By NHL Refs

Jan 10, 2017; Raleigh, NC, USA; Columbus Blue Jackets head coach John Tortorella looks on from behind the bench against the Carolina Hurricanes at PNC Arena. The Carolina Hurricanes defeated the Columbus Blue Jackets 5-3. Mandatory Credit: James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports
Jan 10, 2017; Raleigh, NC, USA; Columbus Blue Jackets head coach John Tortorella looks on from behind the bench against the Carolina Hurricanes at PNC Arena. The Carolina Hurricanes defeated the Columbus Blue Jackets 5-3. Mandatory Credit: James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports /

NHL officiating is bad. Like very bad. Players’ health are at risk when these officials perform poorly. It’s time for the guys in stripes that rule the ice to step their games up, especially when they ref a Columbus Blue Jackets game.

I get that NHL officials have a hard job. Every professional league’s refs have it tough and get a bad wrap. NBA, NFL, MLB, and all of the others get criticized for every call they make, sometimes harshly criticized. Is that because we expect too much of these people or is it because they’re bad at their jobs or is it because they hate the Columbus Blue Jackets? Yes, yes, and yes.

Every game is televised, reviewed, and on-demand. Pretty much anybody that wants to can continuously analyze the game tape and critique referees. This is different from past eras where select games were broadcast and for the most part, were live once and that was it.

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That obviously hurts the refs’ credibility because somebody like me who is on their computer most of the day can count how many bad or missed calls that they make. I can then point it out to the thousands of people that follow the Union and Blue Twitter account (you should follow, by the way).

But my intention is not to needlessly criticize officials (I still might do it). I like to think I have better things to do than that (I don’t). My goal in all of this is to make current or aspiring referees aware of the mistakes that they are making in the entire league so they can learn what NOT to do.

And before I get tweets about me being upset about the calls against the Columbus Blue Jackets and that’s the only reason I’m writing this, I’d like to admit to that. I admit that I am very biased toward my hometown team. I have no shame about that. Watching the last five or so CBJ games led me to writing this. My points don’t just apply to Columbus though. They apply to Boston, Pittsburgh, Los Angeles, etc. They apply to every NHL city.

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The reality is pretty simple: NHL officials will never be able to be perfect. No person is, and I don’t expect the refs to be any different. I still expect them to be very good at their jobs though. I expect them to be knowledgeable about the game’s rules and history.

That’s kind of the whole point of their jobs, to know the rules. They might not know about some obscure rule like the vulcanization of a puck, but for the most part should know everything about the game. They also need to be consistent, which is a quality that many officials lack.

Examples? I’ve got a few.

Wennberg Goes Head-First into the Boards

In Saturday’s game between the Jackets and the New York Islanders, Alexander Wennberg was dangerously boarded by Ryan Strome. As you can see in the video below, Strome crosschecked Wennberg in the back, forcing the young forward to smash his head/neck into the boards. Thankfully, Wennberg was alright. He finished the game and sat out Sunday’s game against the New Jersey Devils as a precaution.

The referees decided not to do anything regarding the play, only handing out penalties in the scrum that followed the check. The NHL Department of Player Safety also decided not to act on the matter. Good job protecting the player’s safety there. Gold star for you, DoPS.

Penalty on Pittsburgh Means No Goal for Columbus

This happened roughly a month ago so it may not be as fresh in everyone’s minds. In the Feb. 17 game against the Pittsburgh Penguins, Oliver Bjorkstrand scored a go-ahead goal in the second period, or so he thought.

The highly-esteemed NHL officials called off the goal due to a Penguins player touching the puck. Let me remind you all of the official rules on delayed penalties per the NHL Rulebook:

"RULE 15.1 – Should an infraction of the rules which would call for a minor, major, misconduct, game misconduct or match penalty be committed by a player of the team not in control of the puck, the Referee shall raise his arm to signal the delayed calling of a penalty. When the team to be penalized gains control of the puck, the Referee will blow his whistle to stop play and impose the penalty on the offending player."

Now that you’re educated on the rule, let’s roll the tape.

Clearly, Pittsburgh never had control of the puck. Yes, they did touch it but they did not gain possession of the puck. This is honestly every referee should know; touching is not the same as possessing.

Fortunately, Pittsburgh still lost the game. They received a point for losing in overtime though, something they may not have gotten if Bjork’s goal would’ve counted.

Seth Jones Gets Called for Phantom Penalty in OT

This happened at the beginning of the month and it’s still a sore subject. When playing the Montreal Canadiens in a 0-0 tie in overtime, defenseman Seth Jones was called for a holding penalty. Tell me if this is holding.

Yes, I agree. It is not holding. Or if it is, than there needs to be a lot more holding penalties called. The Jackets would also go on to lose the game soon after. Another solid job, refs.


Officiating in the National Hockey League is abhorrent, and not just for the Blue Jackets. Evgeni Malkin didn’t even get a hearing for his hit on Winnipeg Jets captain Blake Wheeler while Winnipeg’s Jacob Trouba got a two-game suspension without pay and Brad Marchand continuously gets away with slew footing even though it’s really obvious. If the referees aren’t going to call certain stuff, then take it out of the rulebook on what constitutes a penalty.

NHL officials need to stop being inconsistent and ignorant about the rules. Their job is to keep the order on the ice, be fair and clear, and maintain as safe as an environment as they can for the players. They’re failing at their jobs, and so are the Department of Player Safety.

I think I’ve made my point. There were some bad calls in Sunday’s game against the Devils, but I’m tired and just want to think about the Jackets winning the Stanley Cup now that we’ve officially clinched a playoff berth. Go Jackets!

Next: Blue Jackets: Playoff Bound