It’s that time of year again. The weather is getting warmer, flowers are blooming (unless you’re a Penguins fan, in which case your flower is probably wilting…), and the NHL playoffs are beginning! It truly is the most wonderful time of the year.
Except when fans decide they’re going to start blaming everything on the officials.
The NHL playoffs are, as a friend of mine put it, the greatest playoffs of any sport hands down, no debate. While I happen to agree wholeheartedly, with each game of every round substantially increasing in intensity, one of the most bothersome things that fans can do as emotions rise during this glorious time (as far as I’m concerned) is blame every single mistake, miscue, and lapse in judgement that their team makes throughout the course of a game on the referees.
In recent years especially, it’s a habit has catapulted to the top of my short list of pet peeves, and unfortunately with games increasing in importance with every passing day, this tends to happen among far too many fans at this time of the season.
It truly is the worst.
Now, if I were to tell you that I’ve never been a “ref blamer” at any point in my life, I’d be lying to you, as would most sports fans if they denied ever blaming the refs for one reason or another.
For years, 16-year-old me was convinced that Dan O’Halloran was the reason the Sabres beat the Rangers in game five of the 2007 Eastern Conference Semi-finals. Remember? Drury, 7.7 seconds, Afinogenov? Yeah, that game.
In the years since, however, fans blaming refs in the most incessant, ignorant, and pathetic way possible has become just that. Pathetic. Maybe even worse than nails on a chalkboard.
Do officials sometimes make mistakes and blow calls? Absolutely they do. They wouldn’t be human if they didn’t, and it’s the human element which makes sports so special and so unique.
But if your excuse for your team’s sub-par performance or loss is critiquing each and every move of the officiating crew, chances are you team wasn’t going to win anyway. Stop whining, accept the fact that there were probably other things your team could’ve improved upon throughout the course of a 60 minute hockey game to better their chances at success, and move on. Don’t be that bumbling buffoon who sarcastically tweets some variation of “Thanks ref. Hope you enjoy your postgame dinner with Bettman.”
— Red Wings Memes (@RedWingsMemes) April 5, 2015
So whatever you do this postseason, whether you bite your nails, sweat nervously, consistently feel as though you’re on the verge of having a heart attack as your team’s game goes from one overtime period to the next, or simply kick back and enjoy the NHL playoffs in all its glory, do us all a favor and stop getting all hot and bothered over the refs. It just makes you look silly.
Jake Gittler is now in his second season as a contributing member of The Hockey Writers. After spending the 2014-15 season working in Communications for Adirondack Flames of the AHL and covering the New York Rangers here for The Hockey Writers, Jake’s coverage has been switched over to the Colorado Avalanche for the 2015-16 season. Jake can be reached via email at Jakegittler@gmail.com, or on Twitter @Jgittler_hockey.