Florida Panthers head coach Paul Maurice unloaded on a referee – claiming personal bias – after an overtime loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Maurice summed up the game as “lots of energy, excitement, and profanity – those would be the words” before voicing his concerns with the officiating.
Maurice first took a shot at the NHL’s schedule-maker for the travel, which saw the Panthers complete a four-game road trip (Detroit-Dallas-Colorado-Vegas) before coming home, then up to Buffalo and Toronto, with the latter three games in four nights. He fired a second volley at the stripes.
“I’m proud of our guys here tonight,” said Maurice. “They flew us out to the West Coast, flew us back, flew us home, flew us up here and back to back — and then they threw those two guys at us. We hung in there pretty good. I’m proud of our group.”
The ‘two guys’ in question were referees Pierre Lambert and Francois St. Laurent. Maurice took objection to some of their calls.
“Well, there’ll always be penalties that you take in your game you earn. There’s a whole bunch you’re not going to like at all. I thought we had the inordinate share of those [where it’s] hard to describe the call. Usually at least [the officials] have enough there to argue. [They’ll] come over and say, ‘Yeah, the stick got up…’
“Radko Gudas hits as clean a hit as you can level – stick on stick, body on body. Not a charge. They’re both going in the same direction.”
Gudas was given a minor penalty for charging.
“No problem with the guy going to the net at all. That’s hockey. But that’s — I don’t know what the hell those guys were doing tonight, but it wasn’t Florida Panther friendly.”
The Panthers coach chalked up the calls not to infractions on the ice, but to his past interactions with St. Laurent.
“I just explained to them, [the penalty calls] had nothing to do with my players. That had to do with me in a relationship that I have with one of the referees. That’s what that was all about, so just go out, keep your mouth shut, and play the game.”
St. Laurent and Maurice famously crossed paths in 2016, when Maurice – then with the Winnipeg Jets – complained after two hits injured his players. St. Laurent ejected Maurice from the game.
Maurice was fined $5,000 for that exchange.
This is not the first time the officiating duo of St. Laurent and Lambert has worked a Panthers game this season. They handled Florida vs. Los Angeles in November, and each official worked a Panthers game earlier this month.
Francois St. Laurent and Pierre Lambert
- 11/5 – Panthers vs. Kings – L 5-4.
Penalties – FLA: 7 (22 PIM) LAK: 2 (4 PIM)
Power Plays – FLA: 0-2; LAK 1-6
Francois St. Laurent
- 1/6 – Panthers vs. Red Wings – W 3-2 (with Conor O’Donnell)
Penalties – FLA: 5 (10 PIM); DET 2 (4 PIM)
Power Plays – FLA: 2-2; DET 0-5
- 12/23 – Panthers vs. Islanders – L 5-1 (with Justin St. Pierre)
Penalties – FLA: 9 (29 PIM); NYI: 6 (23 PIM).
Power Plays – FLA: 0-3; NYI 0-6
- 1/16 – Panthers vs. Sabres – W 4-1 (with Frederick L’Ecuyer)
Penalties – FLA: 4 (8 PIM); BUF: 4 (8 PIM)
Power Plays – FLA: 0-3; BUF 0-3
The Panthers are 8-6 under St. Laurent over the past four seasons and 7-9 under Lambert during that span.
No word yet on if Maurice will face any financial consequences from the league for his comments.
UPDATED 1/19: Maurice has been fined $25,000 for his comments.
From the NHL:
Florida Panthers head coach Paul Maurice has been fined $25,000 for comments about officiating during a media availability following NHL Game No. 706 in Toronto on Tuesday, Jan. 17, the National Hockey League announced today.
The fine money goes to the NHL Foundation.