Sportnet’s Mark Spector wrote this week about the oft-asked questions around accountability for the on-ice officials:

I keep hearing the question: When do the referees get fined? How are they accountable? Why can they get away with mistakes?

One: Officials with poor records don’t get playoff work. That costs them money — not out of their pockets, but potential earnings they don’t get. And it’s not small money. Then, when new younger officials arrive on the scene, it’s the non-playoff officials who get replaced first.

Two: Players, scouts, GMs and coaches make mistakes all the time. Do we think a player who mishandles a shootout chance and fumbles the puck into the corner should be fined? What about fining a goalie who lets in a softie? Or a scout who misses on a mid-first rounder? Then why do we demand perfection from a linesman who botches the rare line call — even though they’re at about 98% as a group?

Three: Newsflash — all refs aren’t the same. As hockey people, we’re on board with first-, second-, third- and fourth-line players. We don’t expect the same level of skill, production or input from Lance Bouma that we do from Johnny Gaudreau. We just expect Bouma to work as hard.

Then why do we expect the 36th referee and the No. 1 referee to give us identical games? These are the best 80 or so hockey officials in North America. That’s not to say that the 40th lineman is as good as Brad Lazarowich or Mark Wheler though.

Head over to Sportsnet to read Spector’s entire column.