LOS ANGELES, CA - JANUARY 09: David Backes #42 of the St. Louis Blues looks on during a break in their NHL game against the Los Angeles Kings at the Staples Center on January 9, 2010 in Los Angeles, California. The Blues defeated the Kings 4-3. (Photo by Victor Decolongon/Getty Images)
The year is young, yet it already has been an ugly season for NHL officiating. Across the league fans are complaining about the inconsistent and extremely ticky-tacky calls officials are making. Nudge a player in pursuit of the puck? Prepare to sit. Get mauled by a defender? Play on.
The officials in the St. Louis Blues / Detroit Red Wings game on Friday took things to a whole new level of disappointing. Chris Lee and Ian Walsh not only upset fans of the Blues and Red Wings repeatedly, but they made a mockery of the game of hockey by making critical errors which helped determine the outcome of the game.
David Backes received a match penalty for his hit to Kent Huskins' head. One problem - Backes never made contact with Huskins' head. In fact, he wasn't even close.
So if Backes' hit wasn't to the head, was it a late hit, thus still warranting a penalty of some sort? No, at least not according to some research from Aaron Ward of TSN.
#STL Backes hit was 10-14 TV frames after release of puck by Huskins. Works out to less than half a second.Shoulder hit,not late. #TSN
— Aaron Ward (@aaronward_nhl) February 2, 2013
The hit wasn't late and it wasn't to the head. Huskins was shaken up after the hit, but there shouldn't be a punishment for a clean, legal hit which unfortunately caused an injury. Punish the action, not the aftermath.
Ugly. That's the best word I can think of for the officiating in the Blues / Red Wings game. To be fair, the officiating was horrendous in both directions. The David Backes hit to the "head", was just the biggest example of what was a night scarred by constant whistles. The first period was an insult to the game of hockey. Seven minor penalties were called in the first 20 minutes, zapping the game of not only 5-on-5 play, but also of any flow and rhythm.
Unfortunately, this is just a lone instance of everything that's wrong with NHL officiating. To date, the NHL is doing little to right the ship. Should there be some sort of video review? Should the opposing team be allowed to "challenge"? Shouldn't the officials be held responsible for poorly officiated games? These are just question/ideas about a topic the NHL isn't even discussing.