Scouting The Refs: Walkom, Furlatt, Joannette, & O’Rourke Out

The officials for the 2013 Stanley Cup Finals will be Wes McCauley, Dan O’Halloran, Chris Rooney and Brad Watson.  Manning the lines will be Shane Heyer, Brian Murphy, Pierre Racicot and Jay Sharrers.

Not making the cut this round:  Stephen Walkom, Eric Furlatt, Marc Joannette, and Dan O’Rourke.  Let’s take a look back at the officials who’ve worked their final game of the 2013 postseason.

Referee Eric Furlatt addresses the Capitals' bench (Flickr/Clydeorama)
Referee Eric Furlatt addresses the Capitals’ bench (Flickr/Clyde Caplan)

Stephen Walkom & Eric Furlatt

Walkom and Furlatt were paired together for eight games this postseason. They called their games evenly on the scoresheet but inconsistently on the ice, frustrating both fans and players. Together, they averaged 8 minor penalties called per game.

Walkom, one of the league’s more senior officials, had his share of officiating controversy in the playoffs. He was on the ice for a questionable call against Sheldon Souray in the final minute of Game 2 between Detroit and Anaheim, when the Ducks blueliner slashed Justin Abdelkader in the crease but well away from the puck.

Walkom also showed a tendency to make offsetting calls – sending two guys off with no loss of manpower – or make up calls to balance things out.  Those calls weren’t always warranted:

He also made another late call – one we covered here in an earlier Scouting The Refs preview – in Game 7 of the series between the Blackhawks and the Red Wings.

It was a bad call. Not so much the call itself, but the context of it. […] Walkom’s call was unnecessary. It was even a bit unbalanced, as Detroit’s Kyle Quincey seemed more deserving of a trip to the sin bin than Chicago’s Brandon Saad, with whom he was battling in front of the bench. The real unsettling part of this call, though, is that Walkom apparently had absolutely no idea what was going on at the far end of the ice. At this level, that’s simply not acceptable. […]  Had [Walkom] even taken a moment to glance up ice, he’d have seen the potential scoring opportunity as the Hawks entered the zone. Seeing that, he certainly could have held off on blowing the play dead until the shot was stopped or the scoring play broken up.

After that call, many were surprised he moved on to the next round — or that he was able to call any more games for the Blackhawks.

He only made it two more games.  This is the second straight year Walkom has not made it to the Cup Final.  Furlatt has never officiated a Stanley Cup Finals game.

Don’t worry, Chris.  He has been.   Mike Milbury will also be relieved to have Walkom on the sidelines:


Dan O’Rourke and Marc Joannette

After back-to-back appearances in the Stanley Cup Finals, Dan O’Rourke will not be on the ice for the final series of the playoffs.  A veteran official who normally manages to call an even game, O’Rourke hasn’t had the most consistent playoff performance.   CBS Boston’s Michael Hurley kept close watch on his work in Game 3 of the series between the Bruins and Rangers:

Because the officiating was so noticeably one-sided, we’re left with more than enough reason to feel as though something fishy was going on. For example:

Ryan Callahan hit 6-foot-9 defenseman Zdeno Chara in the face with a stick early in the game. Chara bled. It should have been a four-minute double-minor and was absolutely impossible to miss. The refs missed it.

David Krejci carried the puck into the zone on a 2-on-2 rush in the first period. Dan Girardi dropped to the ice and swung his stick at Krejci’s feet, knocking the puck carrier down. No call for tripping was made.

In the second period, Chris Kelly carried the puck into the Rangers zone. Defenseman Steve Eminger reached out with his hand, grabbed Kelly’s shoulder and spun him around to knock him off his track. Jaromir Jagr had already been penalized for a similar but lesser infraction, but Eminger’s hold went uncalled.

Roughly 105 seconds into the third period, Rick Nash slashed Chara’s arms to separate Chara from the puck. No call.

Later in the third, Tyler Seguin carried the puck across the offensive blue line in a 1-on-3 situation. Seguin tried to send a shot on net, and he hit Chris Kreider in the face with his stick on the follow-through. By rule, a high-stick on the follow-through of a shot is not a penalty. Almost simultaneous to the time Seguin’s stick hit Kreider’s face. Eminger’s stick came up and hit Seguin in the face. Again, this was the puck carrier/shooter, so theoretically a referee might be looking at him, but again, no call was made.

[…] Whether it was the wildest conspiracy imaginable or just your run-of-the-mill referee incompetency, the “work” of O’Rourke and Pollack ought to be examined closely on Wednesday. And we deserve some sort of explanation

O’Rourke’s partner for the past two games has been Marc Joannette.  Together, they combined to infuriate Ken Campbell of The Hockey News based on their work in Game 3 between the Bruins and Penguins:

Had referees Marc Joannette and Dan O’Rourke called all the violations of the rulebook, there probably wouldn’t have been enough players to play 5-on-5 at some points in the game. Then again, had they called the fragrant fouls early, perhaps the players would not have gone through the game thinking they could get away with pretty much anything.

Instead, the two of them made it very clear that they were going to call next to nothing. Then what happened? Well, Jaromir Jagr clearly hooked Evgeni Malkin in the neutral zone and scooped the puck from him, a play that ultimately resulted in Patrice Bergeron scoring the game-winner in double overtime. Basically, Joannette and O’Rourke set the standard and the players responded to it and the game was decided in large part by a restraining foul that clearly should have been called.

Like Campbell wrote, the officials set the tone for the game and had to call it that way.   On one hand, they showed some consistency in letting things go.  On the other, an intentionally missed call led directly an overtime game-winning goal.

Even Boston’s Jack Edwards got in on the action, calling out the crew’s inconsistencies:

However you look at it, the quartet of Furlatt, Joannette, O’Rourke, and Walkom clearly had their struggles.  Through inconsistent games, missed calls, and outright bad ones, each of these officials had a challenging run to get them this far.   Their playoff road ends here.  Hopefully, the remaining crews will prove to be the best officials in the league.  With all eyes on the Stanley Cup Final, they’d better be.


Check back before each Stanley Cup Finals game for a preview of the night’s officials as we continue Scouting The Refs…

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