Sports Illustrated’s Allan Muir recently sat down with Ken Reinhard, Referee-in-Chief for USA Hockey’s Rocky Mountain District. They spoke about controlling the game and the impact of missed calls.
“Referees call penalties after something happens,” Reinhard told SI. “We have no way to prevent something from happening. We can’t protect the player, ensure their safety or prevent injuries. Everything a referee does is a reaction to something that occurred. Whether it’s an offside, icing or a penalty, it has to happen first. There’s no provision in the rule book for us to stop play on the belief that something bad is about to happen or make up rules to eject a player who is misbehaving. We report the news, we don’t make it.”
He’s got a point. How much can you really ‘control’ a game when you can only react to what the players do? The hope is that, by calling penalties, you’ll deter the next guy from taking the same liberties with an opponent.
It’s not up to the officials, though. That falls on the players.
“Referees make mistakes,” he said. “Players make mistakes. Coaches make mistakes. It’s a game played by humans, coached by humans and officiated by humans. But players have more opportunity through the course of a game to influence the outcome than a referee who just ‘blew’ a call.
“A missed offside, a bad penalty call or non-call? Those are mistakes, but no greater than [butchering] a pass, shooting wide of a yawning net, missing a check, making a bad line change or taking an undisciplined penalty. It’s all part of the game. Players need to work through it, coaches need to coach around it and referees [have to] work hard not to make the same mistake again. These things happen but they do not cause a team to lose.”