Washington Capitals head coach Todd Reirden shared one final thought with the officials before leaving the bench after Thursday night’s game.

That comment earned him a game misconduct.

The hit that set him off? No call.

The exchange was not caught on camera, though the broadcast did pick up an apparent expletive directed towards the officials at the 8:21 mark of the third period, shortly after Caps’ defenseman Matt Niskanen was checked into the boards by Carolina’s Clark Bishop.



No penalty was called on the play, nor was a bench minor issued for Reirden’s response at that time.

“Really scary,” Reirden said of the Niskanen hit. “That’s a dangerous play that they’re trying to eliminate in the game today. It was tough to watch.”

When the Caps’ coach was asked whether a penalty should have been called on the play, he deferred to the official score sheet.

“It’s not really my decision,” said Reirden. “I voiced my opinion and… it’s not listed as a penalty on the sheet here, so it’s not a penalty.”

No call was made by the referees, though even the Caps’ broadcast team was split as to whether or not a boarding penalty was deserved.

From the NHL rule book:

41.1 Boarding – A boarding penalty shall be imposed on any player who checks or pushes a defenseless opponent in such a manner that causes the opponent to hit or impact the boards violently or dangerously. The severity of the penalty, based upon the impact with the boards, shall be at the discretion of the Referee.

There is an enormous amount of judgment involved in the application of this rule by the Referees. The onus is on the player applying the check to ensure his opponent is not in a defenseless position and if so, he must avoid or minimize contact. However, in determining whether such contact could have been avoided, the circumstances of the check, including whether the opponent put himself in a vulnerable position immediately prior to or  simultaneously with the check or whether the check was unavoidable can be considered. This balance must be considered by the Referees when applying this rule.

Officials have the option of issuing a minor, major, or match penalty for boarding, depending on “the degree of violence of the impact with the boards” or if the player attempted to injure his opponent.

The puck was dumped in by Carolina and would have been an icing if not for Evgeny Kuznetsov’s half-hearted attempt to play the puck, which nullified the icing call.  Bishop appeared to be pursuing the puck, when Niskanen was bumped into his path by a check from Hurricanes captain Justin Wilson. The collision drove Niskanen into the boards awkwardly.

With no penalty issued, Reirden unloaded on the officials.

Reirden’s penalty falls under Rule 39, Abuse of Officials:

39.5 Game Misconduct Penalty – Game misconduct penalties shall be assessed under this rule for the following infractions:

(i) Any player who, after being assessed a misconduct penalty, persists in challenging or disputing the ruling of an official.

(ii) When a player, Coach or non-playing person uses obscene, profane or abusive language or gesture directed at any on or off-ice official or uses the name of any official coupled with any vociferous remarks, after already being assessed a bench minor penalty (39.3 (ii)), this Coach or non-playing person is to be assessed a game misconduct and the situation reported to the Commissioner for further action.

When this type of conduct occurs after the expiration of the game, on or off the ice, the game misconduct shall be applied without the necessity of having been assessed a bench minor penalty previously.

39.6 Reports – It is the responsibility of all game officials and all club officials to send a confidential report to the Commissioner setting out the full details concerning the use of obscene gestures or language by
any player, Coach or non-playing Club personnel. The Commissioner shall take such further disciplinary action as he shall deem appropriate.

No word on whether Commissioner Bettman plans to pursue any further action against the Capitals’ bench boss, though none is expected.

Referees for the game were Jon McIsaac (#2) and Ghislain Hebert (#22). Linesmen were Steve Miller (#89) and Devin Berg (#87).