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

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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:

REFEREES

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

Standby Referee: Gord Dwyer

LINESMEN

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

Standby Linesman: Steve Miller