A team is down by a goal in the third period with the animosity building as the minutes go by. A breakdown in the defensive zone for the team ahead causes a scramble in front with players dancing around the net declaring a goal. The puck may or may not have crossed the goal line. Fans stand in an uproar as they applaud the goal they all thought they saw. All the attention, anxiety and hope hits the referee‘s dead on. The game rests on a single hand motion of their choosing. Do they send the home team into a frenzy of joy or in a riot of hatred. What will the call be?
The referee signal for a goal is an arm pointing at the goal net. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Being a ref is no walk in the park. Well maybe if the park stands on a sheet of ice, surrounded by lunatic fans yelling profanities as you skate by, dodging speeding bodies following a small piece of rubber. Not matter what the call, someone will be upset. Goals are scored in plain sight with no discrepancies and others are taken to Toronto to review. All the responsibility lies within the striped uniform of the referee. A face of solitude is needed. Your emotions must be locked up when the game starts. Could you imagine an official who reacted to coach’s yelling at them with angry comebacks? Penalties would be given out for simply wearing the wrong jersey. Being fair is hard when one team catches some bad bounces and perform some questionable offenses. Coaches should never blame the game on the ref though. It teaches kids to dump their faults on others, when in reality, it was a lack of effort and execution that caused it.
Most hockey referee’s started as players. Their knowledge of the game came from playing it. Having that inside look at things is vital when making calls. Being on the other side of the whistle helps the refs evaluate a situation more effectively. They’ve heard their own coach yelling at the official for a head check and can now use their own opinion to make the call. Even if a referee did not play hockey, they still need advanced skating skills. When the play is moving at NHL pace, the referee’s need to bolt down the ice to watch the play unfold. Their quickness is the reason a call is or isn’t made.
No love is shown toward an official. If it is, it’s used mockingly by fans. “Thanks for the power plays ref! You really saved the game for us out there!” A harsh life is dealt to the refs. Even though they chose to do it, there are some things they probably would have never expected. The explicit posters, beer bottles hurling by their heads, and even the occasional sock in the face for breaking up a fight. All part of the job. That’s why I wrote this article. People don’t understand the torment referee’s go through. Everyone has their own opinion, but they don’t have to make it in front of millions of people. I’m sure lots of fans feel confident yelling out there’s after a few brews and being surrounded by their friends. What happens when you’re the center of attention in a pressure filled game with the Stanley Cup on the line? Goal or no Goal. That is the question.
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