Referees Dan O’Rourke and Brad Watson will be keeping a close eye on the benches tonight — specifically, on coaches Pete DeBoer and Ken Hitchcock, after comments made following Game 1 of the Western Conference Final.

Things have been heated, with a physical start to the Western Conference Final that’s included some post-whistle shenanigans, included some beard-grabbing by the Blues’ David Backes.


“We’re relying on the officials to do their job,” said DeBoer. “St. Louis is one of the most penalized teams in the league, regular season and playoffs. [The referees] need to call the game accordingly. [We] need to make [the Blues] pay a price for being the most penalized team on the power play, which we didn’t last night.

St. Louis bench boss Ken Hitchcock fired back.

“We’re told not to whine for calls, so we’re not going to whine for calls. If Pete wants to do it, that’s up to him, but we’re not doing it,” said Hitchcock.

“I’m not sure why he’s doing it. You’ve got to ask him that question. We’re just not doing it. We’ll play the game. We’ll play it the right way. We’ll play it honest, but we’ll play it hard. Let the refs decide. They’ve got to do their job, too.”

“I’m not going to tell the referees how to do their job, nor am I going to tell Gary Bettman or Colie Campbell how to do their job. They have a tough enough job as it is. I can barely do my job. I’m going to do my job. If other guys want to whine and get other people that have to work for them, that’s up to them.”

As far as DeBoer’s original claim, yes, St. Louis has taken more penalties than the San Jose Sharks in both the regular season and playoffs. The Blues averaged 3.8 minor penalties per game in the regular season, compared to the Sharks 3.1. 

In the playoffs, though, it’s been a slightly different story, with St. Louis averaging 3.6 minors per game and San Jose at 3.2. If you exclude the Blues/Blackhawks penalty-filled Game 4, the numbers get even closer.  Things tightened up further in the second round.  Both the Blues and the Sharks took 24 minor penalties each in their respective seven-game series.

Watson and O’Rourke certainly have their work cut out for them, both in dealing with what happens with the players on the benches and what’s said from those standing behind it.