It’s no secret the Ottawa Senators have had their, ahem, differences with certain NHL officials this season.
Now, one columnist thinks those differences have gone too far.
Don Brennan of QMI Agency writes that ever since Sens coach Paul MacLean said referee Dan O’Rourke told him Erik Karlsson was a diver, Ottawa has gotten the short end of the officiating stick.
Have the Senators been getting jammed by the referees ever since coach Paul MacLean told reporters O’Rourke declared Erik Karlsson guilty of embellishment? Yes. Is it a coincidence that there’s been controversial calls or non-calls favouring the opposition in each of their next three games, all losses? Not likely. Members of the officiating fraternity have each other’s back.
The purported tipping point came during Ottawa’s 4-3 loss to Boston on Tuesday. The Senators were whistled for four penalties, the Bruins none — an eyebrow-raising development given Boston is the league’s most-penalized team.
That penalty-free game came after two controversial calls against Ottawa (both since the MacLean-O’Rourke incident):
— Jan. 23 vs. L.A.: Referees O’Rourke and Tim Peel awarded the Kings a penalty shot even though replays showed the penalty wasn’t warranted.
— Jan, 24 vs. Phoenix: Referees Peel and Dan O’Halloran waved off an apparent third period tying goal by Daniel Alfredsson with a questionable goalie interference call.
If the Senators believe they’re getting shafted by refs, they’re not saying it publicly.
“I respect those guys too much to think anybody would be out to get us,” said Jason Spezza. “They’re trying to do their jobs and they get evaluated, too. I’m sure they’re trying to do their jobs.”
MacLean suggested the recent string of calls was mere coincidence.
“When you play 82 games, and they play 1,500 games or whatever it is in the league, I think there’s going to be curious things happen all the time,” said MacLean. “I don’t have any issue with it.”
This Senators/MacLean/O’Rourke incident is similar to one from Jan. 2010, when Vancouver’s Alex Burrows accused referee Stephane Auger of “getting back at him” for embellishing a penalty a month earlier. After an investigation from then-NHL discipline czar Colin Campbell, Burrows was fined $2,500 for publicly questioning the integrity of an official.
Speaking of the integrity of officials, here’s what ex-referee Kerry Fraser had to say on the Ottawa issue (courtesy TSN.ca):
I have had games where one team received all the penalties and their opponents none. 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.
Fraser then went on to say referees take upholding the game’s integrity very seriously.