THW Podcast – Ep. 3: Lightning, Penguins, and NHL Officiating with Kerry Fraser One-on-One

On the third episode of the Hockey Writers Podcast, my made quick stops in Pittsburgh to chat with Shane Darrow and Tampa Bay to talk with Eugene Helfrick but the bulk of our show this week was on the topic of NHL officiating. A hot-button topic recently, just this past week there were countless instances where calls weren’t being made, where stars were getting frustrated with the inconsistency in the games and one coach addressed the state of the NHL towards star players as troubling.

It made sense to go straight to someone who would really know how to put a label on the problem. Our special guest this week was former NHL referee, Kerry Fraser.


Kerry Fraser
Kerry Fraser (Josh Smith/THW)

Related: THW Podcast – Ep. 1: Nylander, Wilson, Grant Fuhr One-on-One & More

What to Expect on the Podcast This Week…

Segment 1: We Ask What is Going on With the Officiating?

Ken Hitchcock called it a league where a player like Connor McDavid could no longer play give-and-go hockey but more a give-and-hold style. Of course, in Edmonton, the fanbase supported those comments 100%. Around the rest of the league, people saw that there might be some truth to it, but also understood that Hitchcock was jockeying as well as any coach could for his team and his star player.

We asked the question, is this really a problem in the NHL? Is the officiating geared towards punishing the stars? Is the referring of games too inconsistent? Are refs afraid to make calls in today’s NHL?

Segment 2: Special Guest – Kerry Fraser Joins The Hockey Writers Podcast

To get the answer to those questions, we wanted to speak to a former referee who, now that he’s out of the game, could see both sides. Kerry Fraser was a referee for close to 30 years and is currently an analyst and broadcaster. Who better to know what’s going on with the game and where the state of officiating is than a man who was so iconic as one of the game’s best referees?

What we got was a fantastic interview with someone who brought incredible insight to the topic of NHL officiating, providing perspective as to why we’re seeing what we’re seeing in the NHL these days. Fraser certainly doesn’t absolve the current crop of NHL officials from their responsibility to get these calls correct but believes that part of the problem is their inexperience, inability to communicate properly with today’s players and build relationships. Finally, has a specific message for the NHL and these young officials that could help them take the next step in their development.

Did Kerry think what our Twitter poll thought? Is inconsistency the biggest problems for officials in today’s game?

Related: The Hockey Writers Podcast – Ep. 2: Blues, Flyers, Hawks, TSN’s Jason Gregor One-on-One

Segment 3: Eugene Helfrick – Tampa Bay Lighting

As strange a question as it might seem to ask, are the Tampa Bay Lightning too good?

While a few teams have the ability to compete in the Eastern Conference, Tampa is far and away the best team in the NHL right now and have, perhaps, the greatest depth of any organization in the NHL. What happens to all that depth when the regulars start to return?

We’ll talk to Eugene about the Lightning’s season, who is playing well, what the team will do and how they move forward after this season knowing there’s a good chance they can’t keep everyone.

Segment 4: Shane Darrow – Pittsburgh Penguins

There Penguins are never a team to stay to far away from the major headlines. A team that has struggled a touch out of the gate, there are consistent rumors of potential moves, namely with a player like Phil Kessel and just recently, former Penguin Pascal Dupuis had some not-so-kind words when it came to the communication between the coach and the team’s star players.

Phil Kessel, Evgeni Malkin, Sidney Crosby
Pittsburgh Penguins’ Phil Kessel celebrates his winning goal with Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)

What exactly is going on with the Penguins?

All this, plus we’ll take a look at the week’s hottest rumors and get another “Under 5-Minute Runaround” for teams like the Boston Bruins, St. Louis Blues, and more.