Fans in Boston and Chicago will have plenty of players on the opposing teams to voice their displeasure with, but it’s the guys in stripes that will hear most of the grief everywhere. Which guys get the call of working the Stanley Cup finals? Mark Spector of Sportsnet shares the list via Twitter.
Referees: Wes McCauley, Dan O’Halloran, Chris Rooney, Brad Watson (pictured)
Linesmen: Shane Heyer, Brian Murphy, Pierre Racicot, Jay Sharrers
One notable omission from the list of referees is former NHL Head of Officiating Stephen Walkom. Walkom came under fire during the Western Conference semifinals for calling matching penalties late in Game 7 between Chicago and Detroit while the Blackhawks scored what they thought was the go-ahead goal. Chicago, of course, scored in overtime to make the call a mere footnote, but the moment wasn’t forgotten.
The officials have come under a lot of scrutiny throughout the playoffs and that doesn’t figure to stop now that we’re in the finals. Both teams play tough and on the edge at times. Will they let them play or will we see the calls pick up now that everyone is watching?
Most of the time, NHL officials are only noticed if they make a controversial call or if a puck bounces off of them and creates/inhibits a scoring chance. Yet hockey can be a dangerous sport for anyone on the ice, even the guys who wear striped shirts rather than team jerseys.
That point was made clear during the New York Rangers’ tense, grinding win against the Washington Capitals on NBC this afternoon. The second period included a delay after referee Chris Rooney stumbled behind Washington’s net and showed serious signs of anguish on his face.
There’s a good reason why he seemed like he was in such pain; Jeff Marek reports that Rooney is suffering from a broken fibula and won’t officiate another playoff game in 2011.
It’s tough news for Rooney, but is also emphasizes the fact that the officials are in the line of fire too. A lot of times these guys get a puck in the face and keep working anyway, showing that they belong on the ice with some of the toughest athletes in sports. There were even a few officials who wouldn’t wear helmets until they were forced to do so (although some would argue they resisted such urges because they wanted to show off stylish hair cuts).
Anyway, it’s a tough break for Rooney, but refs can get injured too.