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Fraser: Can officials be suspended or fined like players?

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Kerry Fraser
12/10/2013 5:55:39 PM
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Got a question on rule clarification, comments on rule enforcements or some memorable NHL stories? Kerry wants to answer your emails at cmonref@tsn.ca!

Hi Kerry,
 
The recent issues in the Boston-Pittsburgh game have highlighted a number of officiating, game control, and player sportsmanship aspects.
 
Here is my question for you to consider. If an official or officials miss an obvious call, why are the officials involved not subject to public game suspensions as the players are?
 
Thanks, enjoyed your assessment of the weekend issues.
 
Thanks,
Coleman

Coleman:
Some might suggest if officials were subject to public game suspensions for missing an obvious call there wouldn't be enough personnel left to cover the games. The truth is there is a form of internal accountability currently in place.

Officials have been suspended for public conduct that was unbecoming a member of the profession and for failure to pass the required fitness test. On one occasion a lineman's playoff assignments were withheld pending a full investigation into a missing puck. Fines have been levied against many officials for misinterpreting a rule; present writer included. The amount of the fine can vary between $250 and $500 and is donated to a charity of the official's choice. A "one time" donation is usually sufficient for the official to become completely familiar with all the playing rules! 

Officials are largely held accountable through a subjective internal evaluation system that is conducted by the Officiating Department to determine annual playoff selection. Considerable bonus money is available for each playoff round that an official is selected to work. In addition to the money, there is tremendous pride associated with being chosen for this honour.

Each official receives a midseason evaluation which often includes areas where improvement is expected. If an official's performance reviews are consistently sub-substandard he will be put on notice that he must bring his game up to the expected standard or be subject to termination. Specialized coaching should be provided to any official that might fall into this category!

Once a referee or linesman's season has concluded an exit meeting with the V.P. of Officiating or one of his designates is arranged to discuss the season in review and to provide suggestions moving forward.  

While the success of any evaluation process hinges largely upon the competency of the personnel who conduct the reviews there is currently one in place intended to hold the officials accountable. It's just not done in the public arena.

National Hockey League (Photo: Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

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(Photo: Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
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