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The NHL has a serious officiating problem

An absolutely terrible showing from the officials was capped off by some blatant unprofessionalism.

NHL: Vancouver Canucks at Montreal Canadiens Eric Bolte-USA TODAY Sports

Garrett Rank and Dean Morton put forth one of the worst displays of officiating for the Montreal Canadiens, in Montreal against the Dallas Stars on Saturday. The latter more so than the former, but we’ll get to that a little later.

Whenever a team blows a three-goal lead, they have to wear most of the blame themselves. The fact that they sat on their lead is on them, but the officials need to be held accountable for their horrendous and blatantly one-sided performance.

Only two penalties were called during regulation, both in the second period, and both against the Habs. Ben Chiarot was definitely guilty of a slash, but interestingly enough it was his reaction to being tripped, and the refs apparently saw only his retaliation.

Joel Armia was guilty of a hook, which I’d argue was a little soft, but by the letter of the law it was a relatively fair call to make. That call actually burned the Habs as well, since Tyler Seguin would cut the Stars’ deficit to just one on the ensuing power play.

Meanwhile, Max Domi took a pretty hefty whack to the face that the refs somehow didn’t see.

Domi’s lip was still bleeding in his post-game scrum from this play. That’s a four-minute power play for the Habs, but the refs didn’t manage to catch it. It is possible they just didn’t see it, but since they were in the area of the puck, the refs would have had to be out of position to not be able to see it.

At any rate, the truly unforgivable call of the night was actually a no-call in overtime, for pretty much the exact same thing that Armia sat for in the second.

It was almost identical to what Armia himself sat for, so why is it all of a sudden tolerable in overtime? It is normal for officiating to be a little different from game to game, but this crew couldn’t even come close to adhering to the standard they set themselves in regulation. It’s a common trend this year, also, as the Habs are definitely not the only team to have fallen victim to brutal inconsistency.

But that wasn’t even the worst moment of the night for the officials. TVA Sports caught audible evidence of Dean Morton telling Brendan Gallagher to go f**k himself for daring to argue against his horrendous officiating. This directly after the overtime goal that probably never would have happened if not for Morton’s incompetence in the first place.

This is beyond unprofessional. I don’t have a problem with swearing in and of itself, but when you’re supposed to be the impartial referee of a hockey game, you absolutely cannot say such a thing to a player and then proceed to essentially taunt them with the fact that the overtime goal counts — never questioned in the first place — and his team lost.

I have been reticent to suggest that there is a bias among officials, but it is clear as day that Morton at the very least has serious issues with Gallagher. Since that’s the case, he should not be allowed to officiate NHL games any longer. You cannot have a ref acting like a petulant child the way Morton did last night. He should be ashamed of himself, and the NHL should be ashamed that it happened in one of their games.

But of course, the NHL punishes players and coaches more for talking about poor officiating than they do the poor officials themselves. Not only do I assume Morton will face no discipline, I’d bet he’ll get to call more Habs games before the end of this year. Meanwhile Gallagher will have to bite his tongue lest the league hit him in the wallet for failing to do so.

Even the extra point for a win last night wouldn’t have done much for the Habs’ hopes of making the playoffs. That ship has sailed, but they have a reasonable expectation to at least be treated fairly by the officials for their remaining games.

The NHL needs to wake up and deal with its officiating problem, and I’d start with Morton after that disgusting display if I had any say in the matter.