Officiating in the NHL is no easy task. No one is going to tell you it's easy. We all understand that. However, fans of the game of hockey ask (and expect) consistency. We want to know what is a penalty and what isn't. This hasn't been the case in the NHL and it has never been quite as obvious as when the Blues played Detroit on Wednesday night.
The above video shows Johan Franzen check David Backes after the whistle. He punches him in the face. Twice. The latter occurring while Backes is on the ice in a defenseless position. The end result was a bloodied Backes as the two teams left for the dressing room. Surely Franzen received a penalty for his antics, right? Wrong. Not a single penalty was called even though all of this took place after the whistle. At the very least it is a clear "roughing" penalty. Realistically, it could easily be considered a major penalty given the timing and severity of his actions.
Now, skip ahead to the Ryan Reaves hit that earned a 5-minute major and a misconduct.
As you can see above, the hit was mostly should-to-should with some contact to the head. Should it have been a penalty? Probably. It should have been a two-minute penalty and been left at that. Instead, Reaves was sent off in disbelief, leaving most of us St. Louis Blues fans trying to figure out what in the world was going on.
Compare the two videos above and explain to me why Reaves is kicked while Franzen is able to walk free without any discipline. I might add Franzen went on to tally two goals in the contest, making his ability to skip free of any punishment that he rightfully deserved even worse.
In my opinion, and granted I am biased, Franzen's offense is the type the NHL needs to crack down on. There are far too many late hits after the whistle and far too many inconsistencies in how penalties are handed out. Franzen hit Backes three times after the whistle, the final a clear punch on a defenseless player that drew blood. Realistically, that should be a 5-minute major and a misconduct.
Fans want fairness and equality. They want consistency. It boggles the mind that Alex Steen can be sent off for roughing for a check during the flow of the game while Franzen is deemed to be following the rules.
Wake up NHL. Your most loyal supporters are sick of the lousy officiating crews you walk out each and every night. We demand better. We demand consistency and accountability.