In recent years the National Hockey League has taken strides to clean up its act, namely by attempting to totally eliminate fighting. Fine, but it may now want to take a look at its officials if it wants to be taken seriously.
Is the situation not a wee bit arse-end foremost when Montreal Canadiens player Brandon Prust blows the whistle on an NHL referee, pun fully intended, and he’s the one in hot water? It would seem to me that the league has no grounds to levy any punishment against Prust as he didn’t criticize the quality of an official’s judgement, but rather called into question that official’s intention to perform his duty in an unbiased manner, based on what the official said. In baseball terms Prust is not arguing balls and strikes, but rather bringing to light referee Brad Watson’s attitude that flies in the face of fair officiating. No official who goads a player into a penalty by swearing at him and threatening to ‘run him out of the building’ should be allowed to continue in his position.
I understand there is a ‘gentleman’s agreement’ that states that what happens on the ice stays on the ice. But that agreement requires two gentlemen; frankly if Wilson did in fact say the things Prust alleges he did, he has no place officiating in the NHL and it behooves the league to take action. In a move reminiscent of Edward Snowden, Prust has exposed the NHL’s tiered system of refereeing that must be dealt with forthwith.
In addition, Watson’s colleagues should want the league to act, lest they be tarred with the same brush. If they do not distance themselves from Watson, and this biased system of refereeing is in fact widespread, the league has a huge problem on its hands.
Would the NFL accept an on-field official telling a player he is going to be singled out for special treatment? The NBA? I think not.