At what point can a St. Louis Blues fan began to question the sincerity of the NHL officiating? Watching the men in stripes dissect almost every check by the Blues is tough to take. But to let the team be hammered illegally back with almost blind consent of the league is treacherous.
It happens to all teams. It was a tough break. It is a fast game. It is a hard job.
How many other fan bases need this canned response from the pundits after every game? Yes, the ref missed a call there for that team and the other team. But no other team can compare to the nightly officiating abuses the Blues take.
During a the 1-0 overtime loss to the Colorado Avalanche, Blues fans yet again have to be wondering if Gary Bettman’s incompetent secretary is from St. Louis. It was yet another tough game to watch when call after call is missed to the point of straight ignorance.
Captain David Backes has been thrown in the penalty box countless times by the officials who have made it clear they are keeping a close eye on him. Amazingly, not one of the four happened to catch a swinging stick cracking over the forward’s head Wednesday night. Backes tumbled to the ice and then scurried down to the locker room for repairs. Too bad the Blues don’t have a Henrik Sedin who has the power to stop any play himself for an injured player.
Later in the same scoreless game, rookie Vladimir Tarasenko was crushed by the Av’s Mark Olver. Under most circumstances the hit can be considered clean – if the rookie had not turned his head. He did and Olver’s shoulder catches all of Tarasenko including his chin knocking him bloodied and senseless to the ice. The former KHL star eventually got to his feet and skated off after his eyes straightened out.
One can claim it was the rookie’s own fault and he should protect his body more. Fair enough. But what does that say about a team like the L.A. Kings, more specifically Dustin Brown, who purposefully re-position themselves at the last moment to draw a boarding call? What does that mean for the clown show in Vancouver who paste themselves to the boards on side to side hip checks? To the point, why is it okay for the league’s darling diving team to place their bodies in irresponsible positions and not this Blues forward?
The latest game against the Canucks, the gutless Ryan Kesler dropped his head below normal level right before impact with Roman Polak. This veteran put himself in a horrible position. He should have protected his body better. Yet Polak was hit with a roughing penalty. Less than a minute later, Kesler turns and faces the boards right before a hit by Alex Pietrangelo. Once again putting himself in a dangerous spot and once again drawing a penalty.
Players like Kesler pull these stunts, luckily without physical harm, every night drawing penalties from their actions. It is reckless but the onus is on the hitter to pull up.
Why is the Tarasenko hit any different? If anything, Tarasenko turned and accidentally put himself in that situation. Guys like Brown and Kesler purposefully do it and receive the call which is much worse.
So it has been the standard for the officials to claim that irresponsible placement of one’s body does not give a free pass to the oncoming checker. Except if the skater is a Blues forward. Nowadays a dangerous hit comes with a suspension and fine, but the league has no intention of discipline for Olver who did not even receive a penalty on the play. Somewhere Backes is shaking his head dumbfounded about what the ejection qualifications are.
The inconsistent officiating is a major factor that destroys the integrity of the game and it happens to at least one team a night. That team is the St. Louis Blues.