Author: Mike Halford

Brad Watson

Watson in, O’Rourke out as NHL announces Conference Final officials


The NHL has announced the eight referees and eight linesmen that will work this year’s Eastern and Western Conference finals.

A noteworthy inclusion is Brad Watson, who was embroiled in controversy after an (alleged) verbal altercation with Montreal’s Brandon Prust in Round 2. Prust, who was tagged with 31 penalty minutes in a Game 2 loss to the Lightning, accused Watson of trying “to play God,” adding that the veteran referee “kept provoking me, he came to the box and called me every name in the book.”

Prust later apologized for his remarks, and was fined $5,000 for what the NHL called “baseless and demeaning” comments.

A noteworthy exclusion is Dan O’Rourke. One of the league’s most experienced officials, he has worked every Conference Final since 2010 and worked both the 2011 and ’12 Stanley Cup Finals. O’Rourke was also assigned Game 7 of this year’s opening-round series between the Islanders and Capitals.

The full officials list for the Conference Finals:


Eric Furlatt, Steve Kozari, Wes McCauley, Dan O’Halloran, Chris Rooney, Kevin Pollock, Kelly Sutherland, Brad Watson.

Standby Referee: Gord Dwyer


Derek Amell, Scott Cherrey, Michel Cormier, Greg Devorski, Shane Heyer, Brad Kovachik, Brian Murphy, Pierre Racicot.

Standby Linesman: Steve Miller

Video: Seguin scores hat trick as Canada blasts Belarus at Worlds

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Canada recorded another blowout victory at the 2015 World Hockey Championships on Thursday, crushing Belarus 9-0 in quarterfinal action at the O2 Arena in the Czech Republic.

Canada — which has already scored 6-1, 10-0, 7-2 and 10-1 wins this tournament — wasted little time burying Belarus as Brent Burns, Tyler Ennis, Ryan O’Reilly and Tyler Seguin scored in a 17-minute span in the first period to put the Canadians out to a 4-0 lead.

The onslaught continued from there. Seguin scored two more to complete the hat-trick while Burns and O’Reilly each scored their second goals of the game. Jason Spezza potted the ninth and final goal with just under five minutes remaining.

In goal, Arizona netminder Mike Smith had a relatively easy time of things, stopping all 24 shots faced for his first shutout of the tournament. Belarus’ Kevin Lalande, who had played well leading up to the quarterfinals, was torched for all nine goals, but still finished with 41 saves.

With the win, Canada now moves on to face the winner of Finland-Czech Republic in the semifinals.

Petry says signing with Montreal is his first choice

Montreal Canadiens v Tampa Bay Lightning - Game Four

“Personally, I’d love to see him back. I think he compliments our defense corps great and I think that, at his age, good defensemen like that are hard to come by.”

That quote comes courtesy Montreal’s P.K. Subban, speaking at Thursday’s end-of-year media availability about fellow blueliner Jeff Petry.

Petry, a pending UFA who came to Montreal at the trade deadline and showed very well, is thought to be at the top of Habs GM Marc Bergevin’s priority list this summer.

Turns out the Habs are high on Petry’s list, too.

Petry, 27, scored seven points in 19 regular-season games with the Habs while averaging 22:11 TOI per night, then continued that strong effort in the postseason with three points in 12 games, averaging 22:17.

It’s clear Montreal would like him back. D-men Sergei Gonchar and Mike Weaver are also UFAs — not expected to be re-signed — and while Bergevin needs to ink new deals for RFAs Alex Galchenyuk and Nathan Beaulieu, Petry could fit within Montreal’s current cap structure.

But it won’t be easy.

First, there’s a money issue — Petry made $3.075M last season and would likely see a significant raise on the open market. This year’s UFA d-man class isn’t especially deep, and it’d be hard for Petry to ignore the payday Matt Niskanen scored by going to market last summer (seven years, $40.25 million from Washington.)

Petry should also have a number of interested suitors. Chief among them would be the Detroit Red Wings, who have been on a seemingly endless search for a right-shot defenseman (Petry shoots right). What’s more, Petry is a Michigan native, a Michigan State Spartan alumni — where he was teammates with Justin Abdelkader — and the son of ex-MLB pitcher Dan Petry, who helped the Detroit Tigers win the 1984 World Series.