March 10, 2013; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; NHL officials linesman Greg Devorski (54) and referee Dave Jackson (center left) and referee Rob Martell (26) and linesman Steve Miller (89) huddle before the game between the New York Islanders and Pittsburgh Penguins during the first period at the CONSOL Energy Center. The Pittsburgh Penguins won 6-1. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Do NHL Refs and Linesmen Need A Tune-Up?

The greatest threat to the integrity of the National Hockey League is the quality of its officiating. From my vantage point in the Tampa Bay Times Forum, I see some incredibly incompetent calls from both the referees and the linesmen.

And I wouldn’t say that the current Director of NHL Officiating, Terry Gregson, has distinguished himself in any way during his tenure since 2009. In fact, the only thing I remember about Gregson as a referee was his participation in the “No Goal” game of the 1999 Stanley Cup Finals in Buffalo, not exactly a credential I’d want on my resume.

When Terry Gregson assumed his position in 2009, he said, “I am pleased to have played a part in the positive direction the game has gone since 2005 and am excited at the opportunity to continue. The standard has been upheld and will be upheld.” Really? Have you seriously watched much game film lately?

Maybe NHL officials need to take a lesson from people who work in the corporate world. When an employee in a business development center takes a call from a potential customer, that call is monitored, evaluated, and coached for improvement. If the employee doesn’t achieve a perfect score, they have to watch training videos and re-certify in areas where they were deficient.

What checks and balances do Colin Campbell and Terry Gregson have in place for professional improvement on the part their referees and linesmen? Ask both the players and fans and the common response is, “Not enough.”

It’s a question of quality, integrity, and fairness. If the NHL doesn’t take a hard look at the way it develops and polices its on-ice officials, the sport we love is in jeopardy of becoming a laughingstock to knowledgeable fans who know a bad call when they see one.

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