Rick Tocchet didn’t want to criticize the refs tonight, so we’ll do it instead

Photo credit:© Simon Fearn-USA TODAY Sports
David Quadrelli
5 months ago
Tonight’s Instant Reaction was fine. It focused on the special teams battle that the Canucks lost, and made some mention of the poor refereeing we saw during the Canucks’ 4-3 overtime loss to the New York Rangers.
When you read The Stanchies tomorrow morning, you’re certainly going to read about the officiating tonight.
But as I sit here reflecting on tonight’s game, it feels like I need to pen a second instant reaction, because I’m not sure I went nearly as hard at the referees tonight as I should have in the first one I wrote. Folks, here is Instant Reaction 2.0
Let’s paint a picture. 11 penalties were called tonight — five against the Canucks, six against the Rangers. That’s a lot of penalties, and didn’t allow for much flow to the game. The Canucks also gave up two of their four goals during a 5-on-3 penalty kill. They played well, and don’t have much to be upset about when they look back at how they played tonight.
The Canucks went 1-6 on the power play, bringing them to 1-10 over their last two games. We’ve already established that can’t continue, and JT Miller was open and honest about that when speaking post game (more on that in tomorrow morning’s Stanchies).
This article isn’t about the power play. It’s about another topic Miller was asked about: The officiating.
In particular, Miller was asked about the too many men call in the third period that had Rick Tocchet ready to blow a gasket.
“I’m going to keep my foot out of my mouth,” Miller said with a wry smile.
Fair enough.
No need to ask him what he thought about the trip on Pettersson, then. This was the non-call that had the Canucks up in arms and led to fans throwing things toward the ice as the Rangers celebrated their overtime victory:
Rick Tocchet took a similar approach when talking about the officiating, choosing to go with the safe “the refs have a hard job” line when asked about the Canucks’ third period too many men penalty, which Tocchet very strongly disagreed with in the moment.
“Yeah, that’s a tough one. I remember I was working for TNT, and Don Koharski, a buddy of mine, said, ‘I can ref in this league.’
“I can’t ref in this league. It’s a hard job. I played 18 years in the NHL thinking I know hockey, and it’s tough out there. You know, it’s bang-bang plays, these guys [the refs] are working their asses off, I get it. Sometimes they’re gonna make mistakes, just like I make mistakes and the players, so that’s a tough one, I thought it was a good game.
“Those are the ones you see a lot, where a guy’s three feet from the bench, but he felt that was the right call, so we’ve got to live with it.”
When the rest of us do a job poorly, we have to answer for it. Whether that be to our bosses, clients, customers, or whoever — you don’t get to wipe your hands clean and head home when you put in a subpar performance. Hell, even me writing this article. There’s certainly going to be at least one person who feels this is a garbage piece of writing, that reporters shouldn’t show passion, or what have you.
And that’s fine. I can take the criticism, and I welcome it. Hell, I’ll even offer responses to most of my critics. That’s what you do when you make yourself a part of a story that people care about.
Whether the players or coach wanted to come out and say it — and again, we don’t blame them for not wanting to — the refs were a significant part of the story tonight. Nobody wants that to be the case, but that’s where we are.
With that in mind, doesn’t it seem a little suboptimal that the refs don’t get a chance to even defend their points of view? To come out and say “yeah, we made a mistake there,” or, “actually, we know how to do this better than you do, and that wasn’t a trip, and that was absolutely a too many men call.”
Either way — the referees inserted themselves into the story tonight, and yet, we still have no idea how they feel about what happened. That feels wrong.
Almost as wrong as how this game ultimately ended.

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