When the NHL announced that Tuesday’s Rangers/Capitals game would be presented live in an animated format on ESPN and the Disney Channel, we had one question:  What about the refs?


That question has been answered, thanks to some crack reporting from ESPN’s Greg Wyshynski.

An animated chicken will be officiating the game. 



“The chicken ref,” said director Jeff Nelson of ESPN.  “Once he drops the puck, he poofs away and appears again when there’s a faceoff.”

Don’t expect any Wes McCauley-style penalty announcements. At least, not the kind you might expect.  From Wyshynski:

It was already determined the chicken would also sound like a chicken. For example, if there’s a controversial penalty during the game, the virtual announcers would have the ability to interview the chicken ref, who will justify its call with impassioned bocking, clucking and other fowl noises.


We have to admit, we’re looking forward to seeing how this plays out — particularly if there’s a Coach’s Challenge or a goal review.

We’re also curious how the actual refs – Garrett Rank and Francis Charron – feel about being replaced by a chicken.


For more on the upcoming game, including the tech behind it, check out the full article from ESPN’s Greg Wyshynski.