NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 15, 2021

by | Sep 15, 2021 | News, NHL | 22 comments

Connor McDavid calls for consistency from on-ice officials, the Blues bring back Tyler Bozak, the Red Wings re-sign Givani Smith, Jimmy Vesey among three players signing PTOs with the Devils, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

THE ATHLETIC: Daniel Nugent-Bowman reports Edmonton Oilers captain Connor McDavid is calling for more consistency from the NHL’s on-ice officials. He acknowledged they face a difficult job but wants to see an improvement in the consistency of calls from game to game and throughout the game from period to period.

Edmonton Oilers captain Connor McDavid (NHL Images).

Oilers general manager Ken Holland agrees with McDavid. “My case to the league is: A foul is a foul,” he said. “If the same guy is able to draw three or four penalties, so be it.” McDavid drew 29 penalties last season but none during the Oilers’ first-round series against the Winnipeg Jets.

McDavid and Holland are members of the NHL’s competition committee. In July, the committee reviewed 30 incidents of cross-checking, an infraction considered an area of concern by league general managers before the committee convened.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: NHL commissioner Gary Bettman publicly defended his on-ice officials during last season’s playoffs, calling them “the best officials in any sport” despite criticism by fans and pundits. Given the inconsistency we’ve seen over the years, I wouldn’t hold out much hope of any improvement.

My guess is we’ll see what we always see. Early-season games will be called more closely than those later in the season. The quality of officiating will deteriorate over the course of the playoffs.

There will be questionable fouls that could affect how the rest of a game is called.  Blatant attempts to injure will sometimes result in puzzling supplemental discipline or none at all. A bad call or missed call will be offset by another at some point in the game. Wash, rinse, repeat.

STLTODAY.COM: The Blues have brought back center Tyler Bozak. The 35-year-old unrestricted free agent was signed to a one-year, $750K contract.

THE DETROIT NEWS: The Red Wings re-signed forward Givani Smith to a two-year contract. Financial terms weren’t disclosed.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Cap Friendly indicates it’s a one-way deal worth $750K per season.

TSN: Jimmy Vesey is among three players joining New Jersey Devils training camp on professional tryout offers. Joining him are Mark Jankowski and Tyler Wotherspoon.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Vesey was a well-touted prospect who signed with the New York Rangers as a college free agent in 2016. However, he bounced from the Rangers to the Buffalo Sabres, Toronto Maple Leafs and Vancouver Canucks since 2019.

WGR 550: Buffalo Sabres fans will require proof of vaccination to attend the club’s home games this season.

BOSTON HOCKEY NOW: Former Bruins forward Fred Stanfield passed away at age 77. He played 14 seasons in the NHL, six of those with the Bruins (1967-68 to 1972-73), winning two Stanley Cups. Along with Phil Esposito and Ken Hodge, Stanfield was part of the return the Bruins received in a 1967 trade with the Chicago Blackhawks that turned the club into a champion.

In 914 career games with the Bruins, Blackhawks, Minnesota North Stars and Buffalo Sabres, Stanfield tallied 211 goals and 616 points, along with 56 points in 106 playoff contests.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: My condolences to Stanfield’s family, friends and former teammates.


  1. I remember Stanfield playing for the Bruins and admired him (and I was, and am, a Leafs fan).

    Condolences out to the Stanfield family

    Agree fully with McD… consistency in calls is paramount w.r.t. the refereeing

    Bad calls and missed calls will happen… Refs are human and will make these. Not my issue here

    The issue is inconsistency on call/no call on same infraction; not only ref to ref in different games, different arenas, different teams; but same refs same linesmen, same teams, same game… with inconsistent calls. That can, and has , tilted the game and has determined outcomes. This is important in the regular season, but absolutely critical in the playoffs.

    Call the same infraction, the same way, first five minutes of first game of the season, as double OT in a playoff game 7

    In addition… suspensions… that HAS to change. There is absolutely no consistency to Parros. Zero consistency. He needs to be replaced.

    Re Bozak… fantastic signing by Blues…. you can’t sign a player for cheaper!!! Another missed opportunity by HexBurkie. That hurts big time.

  2. If there’s one thing that’s remained a constant when it comes to professional sports, in all the years I’ve been following them, it’s the complaining about the officiating – hockey, baseball, football, basketball.

    The only real change in that regard is the intensity of the bitching which grew along with changes in TV coverage – “slo-mo” “bird’s-eye” … whatever – all of which simply revealed what had been missed by the eye test.

    Having played a lot of football I know one thing for certain – if everything was called “by the book” there’d be a constant march 5- 10 yards at a time up and down the field with damned little action.

    In hockey it would result in a steady trip to the penalty box.

    And even if, somehow, the officiating became virtually letter-perfect, there would sure to be ONE instant where something was missed and the screaming would begin.

    Be careful what you wish for.

    • Another constant – in here – is that Pengy will somehow hit “send” twice – 🙂

      • Only sent once … no idea why it keeps coming twice???

      • Maybe iPHONE deja vu??

    • I think there’s one thing for certain – if everything was called “by the book” there would not be a constant march 5-10 yards at a time up and down the field with damned little action. I think the team who adapted to the better officiating would have a better chance to win the game … hence, the play and the players would either adapt or spend their time on the receiving end of countless penalties. (Countless cross checks to the back in the slot surely has to be at the top of the list for improvement?)

      Oops! Looks like Tyler Bozak should have taken that $1.5m offer from the Blues earlier (instead of the $750k he took yesterday)? Or maybe he wanted to play for the Blues all along and was just rolling the dice?

      • Apparently the loot he got from holding up that prospect covered his losses.

    • I agree that we all like to use poor/unfair/biased officiating as one of the reasons why our beloved sports team lose. Having said that the NHL could acknowledge that their are some deficiencies and work with the officials, give them more tools, to help call a better game. Bettman’s response that his officials are the best in the league does nothing to address the problems. Fining teams, GMs, coaches and players for complaining about the officiating, does nothing to solve the problem. I also agree that initially there will be a parade to the penalty box but the players will eventually adapt. Bottom line, if it’s a penalty in the 1st period, it’s a penalty in overtime and if you “put away” the whistle for overtime then that should be written into the NHL rule book

    • I think that is always everyone’s fear but with every rule change regardless of sport the players adjust so even if the games were called correctly they would eventually adjust and the feared parade to the box or charity stripe or laundry everywhere would lessen and the games would improve. Just my worthless opinion
      Technology has allowed the players to get better but the officials to get worse. They do need to train and get better in all sports tech makes that obvious

      • Baseball – Is there any sport where technology could instantly make the game more fair? Umpires call balls a strike and strikes a ball. There’s a little box that could solve that instantly so teams which should be in the playoffs are not staying home and teams that should be staying home are not in the playoffs. All of our sports are games of inches.

    • Hi George

      With you to a certain point….

      That said …. “ In hockey it would result in a steady trip to the penalty box.”

      This big penalty call increase would be short lived IMHO….and then slide lower and eventually level out

      The inconsistency is having players “test the boundaries” of the officiating

      Once there is more consistent calling then players know the “threshold” of hooking, slashing, cross-checking; interference etc etc and will parse back their “infractions”

      I truly believe a more consistent implementation of the rules; can only help the game (cite the consistency changes made in the CFL; with noted “suspensions “ /“time-outs” for officials)

      Do I think Gary will instruct the head of officiating to come up with a consistency plan of action….. No

      …. But I can hope for one (maybe Head of Officiating takes it upon himself to implement)

      Critical, IMHO, is consistency in suspensions…. Cite a certain member of the Caps being one hit away from ending a career (maybe even , heaven forbid, a life)… had their been more consistency and a move to (what I believe to be fair) escalated/exponential suspensions (with potential Life-time bans) for repeat offenders (we all know who) …. Then the likelihood of career/life ending hits plummets

    • I agree with you George, but the refs really must call the vicious blatantly obvious infractions even if the game is on the line.

      It would also be nice if they were consistent throughout the game whether they are calling everything or keeping the whistle in their pockets.

  3. Professional sport continues to transfer technology from league to league, NFL has had some grotesque calls in major games, soccer deals with diving and offsides. Video review has grown, often grudgingly but it does keep getting batter.
    Camera are better, placement improves and all leagues laud their improvement but continue to fall short.
    The NHL can spend a few minutes reviewing a potential offside that occurred 45 seconds prior to and inconsequential to a goal, dissecting if a toe was on the line yet totally miss a head shot.

    I have mentioned it before, Soccer has the right idea with VAR (Video Assistant Referee)

    The existing VAR system would need to be tinkered with for hockey but here it is in a nutshell.

    “Instead of just one person, a team of three people work together to review decisions made by the main referee. … VAR can be used to review four types of decision: goals and the violations that precede them, red cards, penalties, and mistaken identity when awarding a card”

    Hockey is a much faster sport and hitting is a big part of it so the situations in using VAR would need to be customised for the NHL.

    No situation room in Toronto, one ref on the ice making calls leaving more room on the ice.

    NHL would need to set standard for camera placement.

    Existing refs would handle VAR so the union wouldn’t worry about less jobs.

    VAR can communicate with on ice ref to make a call and on ice ref can ask for VAR.
    a link to FAQ about VAR


  4. So McDavid is complaining that he didn’t draw a penalty in the playoffs. Sound more like sour grapes.

    • Who better to have any chance at all of affecting change in the league than the stars. He could really go to bat like Mario and retire over it. Would force the league to listen at least

  5. I would like to see the NHL throw out the delay of game penalty. Most of the time/ or pretty much all the time, the player does not intend to put the puck over the glass. I would hate to see a delayed penalty call decide a series or the finals due to this rule. I think the game could do without it? They don’t penalize a QB for throwing a pass out of bounds? Thoughts?

    • 1. they DO penalize the QB for throwing out of bounds, depending on the situation. (Grounding vs Incomplete)

      2. I love the delay of game NHL penalty. First, it’s one of the few (only?) penalty that’s a given. No interpretation needed. The referees can’t situationally hide from it, like they do with most other calls. It’s also a penalty that is easily avoided. It’s a lazy/unthinking play. Exactly the kind of thing that should be penalized.

      And second, for anyone who watched Chara in the early years, it seemed like anytime the opponent entered the zone, he would just lob the puck over the glass if he ever got possession. Smart, yes, but dull as anything. (and no, I’m not ‘singling him out’, only because I swear it was always him)

      • Whalercane,

        Right on.
        Players used to alleviate pressure by dumping the puck over the glass, getting a line change in while killing momentum.

        These guys are pros and for the most part can avoid shooting the puck over the glass unnecessarily considering its a “no fault” penalty.

      • I disagree, you try throwing the puck off the glass with someone barreling down on you? I think it should be whistled for stoppage in play unless it’s totally obvious!

    • I agree. They have more “delays of game” thanks to breaks for commercials or official challenge reviews than they do having a puck flipped over the glass. How long does it take to get a bloody new puck?

    • “Most of the time “ is WAY too subjective. Talk about opening a door for missed calls.

  6. Evander Kane may be thinking, “The NHL pays those guys wearing stripes to determine the outcome of a game, but it wants to put me in stripes, without pay, for doing the same thing.”