Former NHL referee shines a light on why young stars don't get calls

Published April 14, 2022 at 9:44
BY BEN HODGSON
Auston Matthews chased after Jacob Chychrun with all he had, but the Leafs #1 centre was too late, the puck was in the net, and the Leafs had lost to the Arizona Coyotes in overtime. Matthews immediately turned and started into a tirade towards the referee standing in the corner. Matthews had very clearly been held up on the play leading to the goal, worse than that, it was the eventual goal scorer, Chychrun, who had committed the infraction.

It seems these days that young stars have to endure a whole lot more abuse than veteran players do to get calls. Not only that, when they finally start fighting back, the kids are the first ones sent to the box. Former NHL referee Tim Peel talked about this phenomenon on TSN 1200 today.

All these new officials that are coming in right now, they're coming in with the breed of all these young players. I remember the last two or three years that I refereed, Auston Matthews and Connor McDavid, they never talked. They never, they never talked to me.

So these young players are just focused on winning. They're just focused on the game now. It changed a lot from guys like Mats Sundin and Daniel Alfredsson, those guys we had relationships with them, they wanted to talk to us.


But this new generation of players. Officiating is the last thing on their mind unless a call goes the wrong way.

They're not interested in forming a relationship with officials. You might be surprised to hear that, but that is Marner, Matthews, McDavid and Draisiatl. Very very little interaction with them on the ice.

It turns out what many have suspected for years is actually true. Players that cozy up to the referees have more calls go their way. A fantastic example is Brad Marchand the last time the Leafs and Bruins met. Marchand is often seen chatting up the refs between whistles and during commercial breaks, he clearly has a relationship with them. Marchand threw 3 painful looking crosschecks at John Tavares at the end of the second period, no arm went up. Seconds later Marchand started berating the ref for some reason. As soon as that happened, Marchand was handed a 10 minute misconduct.

One player that never seems to get calls is Habs winger Brendan Gallagher. Gallagher is a pest in front of the net and takes all kinds of abuse for it, rarely drawing penalties for the many beatings he takes. Gallagher was caught on a hot mic arguing with veteran referee Dean Morton during the 2019-2020 season. "Morty" is normally a very friendly person, but something Gallagher said to him must have struck a nerve and Morton exploded on him. The hot mic picked up a very audible "Go F**** yourself" from Morton. It seems that Gallagher's relationship with the referees isn't a good one. Maybe if he signed a stick or bought them flowers he'd actually draw a call here or there.

At this point, Auston Matthews has drawn among the fewest penalties of any player this season, which is absurd for a player that has the puck on his stick so often. It may be in his best interest to have a few friendly conversations with the guys wearing the striped shirts. At this point it certainly can't hurt, can it? Also, Auston - you may want to refrain from clowning the refs when a goal is called back and you score another.
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