Originally posted on Pro Sports Daily  |  Last updated 2/22/14
It does, on the face of it, seem a little lop-sided. Of the four on-ice officials assigned to work Sunday’s Olympic gold-medal game between Canada and Sweden, three are Canadian-born. This fact hasn’t gone unnoticed in Scandinavia. Peter Forsberg, the penalty-shootout hero of Sweden’s 1994 gold-medal victory over Canada at the Lillehammer Olympics, reportedly texted a Swedish newspaper to register his dismay about the passport count. “What a f---ing joke!” was Forsberg’s reported two cents. Perhaps it doesn’t help that the one official who can’t claim Canada as a birthplace — U.S.-bred referee Brad Meier — lives in Calgary. Meier will be on the ice for the gold-medal climax along with fellow referee Kelly Sutherland of Richmond, B.C. The assigned linesmen are Derek Amell of Port Colborne, Ont., and Greg Devorski of Guelph. All four men make their living presiding over NHL games. Swedish coach Par Marts said he is not concerned with the North American officiating, which is assigned by the International Ice Hockey Federation and approved by both teams. “I don’t care,” said Swedish coach. “I hope they do their job. That’s all I can focus on. I can’t change it. No problem with that.” Swedish captain Niklas Kronwall, a defenceman for the Detroit Red Wings, said he doesn’t think the nationality of the referees will give Canada an advantage. “(People) make a bigger deal out of it than it has to be,” Kronwall told reporters. “We’re all used to NHL referees at this level. I think it’s the right decision.” The retired Forsberg, now an executive in the Swedish elite league, told Swedish newspaper Aftonbladet that the deployment of Canadian referees amounts to “comedy at its highest level.” Perhaps he’ll find it funnier that the standby referee, in case of injury or illness, is also a Canadian — Kevin Pollock of Kincardine, Ont. Don Cherry, the CBC icon, sees the situation far more gravely. Cherry, interviewed while he watched Canada practice in advance of the big game, said it’s his experience that Canadian referees assigned to Team Canada “bend over backwards” to make a show of their unbiasedness.
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