SAN JOSE – Officiating became a very hot topic during the Sharks' postseason run – whether it was for calls that went in their favor or against them.
With their run at the Stanley Cup now over, Team Teal has more of an opportunity to reflect on some of those calls.
During exit interviews Thursday, the general attitude was that the refs are doing the best they can in the middle of an extremely fast sport.
“They’ve got a tough job to do,” Logan Couture said. “Growing up my dad was a referee. He ref’d lacrosse and hockey and I got to see firsthand that it’s not an easy job.”
San Jose became the focal point of scrutiny during the Western Conference final after Erik Karlsson scored a game-winning goal in Game 3 that appeared to be set up with a hand pass from Timo Meier.
After a major penalty set the Sharks up to score four power-play goals in Game 7 of their first-round series against the Golden Knights. and a too-many-men call swung play in the Sharks' favor against the Colorado Avalanche, the lack of a call on Meier prompted a few outlets to call the Sharks lucky. (Which led to a prickly reaction from head coach Peter DeBoer.)
Couture insisted luck or favor from the officials has nothing to do with it.
“They’re not trying to pick sides or screw anyone on the ice,” Couture continued. “They’re trying to do their job to the best of their abilities. I think we’re fortunate our league we have some very good officials – some really, really good guys. They’re doing the best they can and I think they’re doing a good job.”
What the team would like to see, however, is some consistency. Tomas Hertl was sidelined for Game 6 against the Blues after being hit in the head by Ivan Barbashev – a hit that received no in-game penalty or discipline from the league. Hertl said he thought Barabshev might’ve received discipline for hitting him in the head, but acknowledged the refs' job is a difficult one.
“For sure on the ice its always tough for the ref because the game is so fast,” Hertl said of the hit to his head. “It’s quick. Sometimes in playoffs they just let it go.”
The Sharks aren’t the only team whose postseason run was peppered with controversial officiating. But the high profile nature of the Western Conference final put several on-ice calls in the spotlight, especially with regards to San Jose’s players being hit in the head. This has brought up questions as to whether the league will make changes in the offseason.
Sharks general manager Doug Wilson didn’t comment on exact calls when he spoke with the press during exit interviews. He did say, however, that he’s open to having those discussions.
“I’m on the competition committee, so I get the opportunity to speak on things like that,” Wilson said. “There are calls you’re going to like, calls you’re not going to like. Difficult job, officiating in this league. It’s our job to give them the tools they need to be the best they can be.”
How the competition committee talks shake out is anyone’s guess. Although, Wilson is expecting open and insightful discussions.
“Once we get to meetings, I like listening and hearing other people’s opinions,” Wilson said. “But I like to hear from officials who have to make those decisions on the ice, what they may need. We’re trying to do what’s right for the game. Whatever that is, we’ll discuss before any decision gets made.”