When NHL coaches speak, the league listens – particularly when those coaches are speaking about the referees and linesmen. The NHL isn’t shy about slapping the bench bosses with a fine. Unlike NHL players, whose fines are capped at $5,000, coach fines tend to be five times that – even if their salaries aren’t commensurate.
The money has been piling up. Over the past four seasons, NHL head coaches have racked up $225,000 in fines for their comments towards or about the officials.
Here’s a look back at NHL head coaches – and a few general managers – fined for criticizing the officiating.
November 2023: Anaheim Ducks’ Greg Cronin – $25,000
Anaheim Ducks head coach Greg Cronin was fined $25,000 for comments directed toward the officials during a win over the Pittsburgh Penguins. Officially, the league called it “unprofessional conduct directed at the officials that resulted in a game misconduct.”
Cronin unloaded on referee Frederick L’Ecuyer after a Ducks goal was waved off for goaltender interference. The Ducks challenged the call on the ice, which was confirmed by the NHL’s Situation Room. Cronin continued to yell at the officials, despite the final call being made by the NHL’s central review room. The coach’s persistence paid off; all that yelling got him a well-deserved break as he was tossed from the game.
March 2023: San Jose Sharks’ David Quinn – $25,000
San Jose Sharks head coach David Quinn ripped referee Gord Dwyer after Sharks forward Kevin Labanc was called for clipping Washington’s Vincent Iorio. Quinn fired off a barrage of expletive-laden feedback, which got him tossed from the game and fined $25 large.
“I’m embarrassed. You shouldn’t act like that as a coach and I want to apologize to our team,” Quinn said, as reported in the Mercury News. “It’s not how I certainly want to act and it’s an emotional game. These refs work hard, they do a good job and it’s something that should never happen. So I’m embarrassed by that.”
“I can’t promise you it won’t happen again, because it does get emotional, but I will do everything I can to make sure that doesn’t happen.”
January 2023: Florida Panthers’ Paul Maurice – $25,000
Florida Panthers head coach Paul Maurice blasted referee Francois St. Laurent – claiming personal bias – after an overtime loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs.
“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…’
“I don’t know what the hell those guys were doing tonight, but it wasn’t Florida Panther friendly.”
This was the second run-in between St. Laurent and Maurice, after the coach was ejected from a 2016 game in which he complained after two hits injured his players.
December 2022: Maple Leafs’ Sheldon Keefe – $25,000
Toronto Maple Leafs head coach Sheldon Keefe was fined $25,000 by NHL Hockey Operations for “demeaning conduct directed at the officials” after what he perceived were two missed calls by referees Wes McCauley and Brian Pochmara during a gaime against the St. Louis Blues.
We haven’t had a nice Sheldon Keefe meltdown in a while pic.twitter.com/DuQPfMC0E8
— Rink Rat Report (@RinkRatReport) December 28, 2022
February 2022: Nashville Predators’ John Hynes – $25,000
Nashville Predators head coach John Hynes has been fined $25,000 for inappropriate conduct at the conclusion of NHL Game No. 1095 in Nashville on Tuesday, Feb. 15, the National Hockey League announced today.
January 2022: Dallas Stars’ Rick Bowness – $25,000
Dallas Stars head coach Rick Bowness momentarily lost his mind and went berzerk behind the bench – yelling, screaming, and smashing a stick. All that anger cost him $25,000 for his actions, which came after a loss to the St. Louis Blues. The Stars, leading 1-0, were called for two consecutive penalties by refs Frederick L’Ecuyer and Corey Syvret; the Blues scored on both power play opportunities to win the game,
Bowness was a bit more careful and measured in his post-game comments, but the damage had already been done before he ever left the bench.
November 2021: Carolina Hurricanes’ Rod Brind’Amour – $25,000
Carolina Hurricanes head coach Rod Brind’Amour was fined $25,000 for inappropriate conduct during a November 28 game against the Washington Capitals, after a slashing call put the Canes down two men. Brind’Amour barked at referee Dan O’Rourke, questioning inconsistencies in the officiating; he was reportedly frustrated with earlier non-calls, including a similar slash by the Capitals that went unpenalized.
“What are you going to do? You know I can’t say anything now,” Brind’Amour said after being notified of his latest fine. “I took the job thinking you could be yourself, thinking you could tell you guys what I really feel in a game or about a game, and now you clearly can’t. So, there you go.”
October 2021: Coaches put on notice…
The NHL issued a memo in October 2021 to all teams advising them that comments critical of the officiating, Situation Room decisions, or Player Safety rulings would be met with fines of $25,000 or more.
“We have already seen several instances of head coaches making unacceptable public comments critical of officiating and video replay decisions, as well as unprofessional conduct on the bench in response to penalty calls, non-calls and even icing calls.”
“All General Managers and coaches are hereby put on notice that, effective immediately, all such public comments and demeaning displays that are critical of officiating, video replay and supplemental discipline specifically, and, more generally the League and the game, will result in an automatic fine of not less than $25,000. Any subsequent violations during the 2021-22 Regular Season and Stanley Cup Playoffs will result in a doubling of the fine.”
June 2021: Boston Bruins’ Bruce Cassidy – $25,000
Boston Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy was frustrated with the calls during his club’s Second Round playoff series against the New York Islanders. He shared his thoughts after Game 5, which ended up costing him $25,000:
“I think what happens is we’re playing a team that has a very respected management and coaching staff. They won a Stanley Cup. I think they sell a narrative over there that it’s more like the New York Saints not the New York Islanders. They play hard and they play the right way. But I feel we’re the same way. The exact same calls that get called on us do not get called on them and I don’t know why.”
“These are very good officials. They’re at this point in the season for a reason. You’ve got continuous high sticks every game, the same high sticks – Bergy from Nelson behind the net. That one that came up on Smith. Marchy was called for that in Game 1. I could go on and on. Maybe we need to sell them more, flop. But that’s not our style. You’d just hope they’d see them. The same calls go against us. It’s not like I’m saying every call against us sucks.”
“At the end of the day, they’re similar plays and they need to be penalized on those plays. But like I said they’ve done a great job selling that narrative that they’re clean. They play a hard brand of hockey. I love the way they play. But they commit as many infractions as we do.”
Cassidy also complained about the linesmen tossing center Patrice Bergeron from face-offs – particularly after Islanders head coach Barry Trotz called the Boston center out for cheating on draws earlier in the series.
“[The officials] just need to be better than that. Just call the game what you see, quit listening to these outside influences, and get it done right,” Cassidy said. “Because I don’t think they were great tonight, I’m not going to lie to you. But they have been, and they’re good officials, I know those two guys — they’re good guys, good officials. I don’t know, tonight I just thought they were off.”
May 2021: Carolina Hurricanes’ Rod Brind’Amour – $0
Rod wasn’t fined in this instance. He’s fortunate that the league let him off the hook – especially when you see what he was facing as a result of his prior fine.
“We’re in a battle. Nashville’s a phenomenal team. But we’re also fighting the refs. That’s plain and simple,” Brind’Amour said. “You can’t tell me two games in a row, they get seven or eight [power plays] and [we] get three? When the game is this even? It’s not right.”
The league opted to let this one slide.
December 2020: Columbus Blue Jackets’ John Tortorella – $25,000
Blue Jackets head coach John Tortorella was fined $20,000 for comments about the officials and the review process after an unfortunate series of events in an overtime loss to the Chicago Blackhawks. Late in overtime, Columbus was given a power play due to a too-many-men penalty called on Chicago. Somehow, though, additional time ran off the clock, which was not adjusted by the referees or the league. Those seconds would prove critical, as the Blue Jackets put the puck past the Hawks’ goaltender just after the horn sounded. To make matters worst, Columbus goaltender Joonas Korpisalo was injured during the tie-breaking shootout… which the Blue Jackets lost.
“Toronto doesn’t step in, refs don’t do their freaking job and now we lose a game, and we lose our goalie,” Tortorella said. “So the chain of events, if it was done right, we don’t lose our goalie, we win the hockey game.”
John Tortorella rips into the refs and the NHL review process before walking out of his press conference pic.twitter.com/1USZBloGv6
— Brady Trettenero (@BradyTrett) December 30, 2019
Tortorella was also given a conditional fine of $25,000, assessed if he found himself back on the naughty list within a year.
The Blue Jackets’ bench boss followed through on that ‘conditional fine’ by walking out on a post-game presser in May; he was promptly fined another $25,000.
August 2020: Carolina Hurricanes’ Rod Brind’Amour – $25,000
Carolina’s Rod Brind’Amour picked up his first fine as a head coach after Game 1 of the team’s First Round series against the Boston Bruins, getting hit to the tune of $25,000.
Brind’Amour disputed a goaltender interference call… or was it a missed stoppage?
“[The referees] came to me, and I said, ‘If he has possession of it then it’s goalie interference. If he doesn’t have possession then it’s a hand pass. It’s one of the two. I don’t know what you’re calling on the ice,’” Brind’Amour said. “All he has to do is tell me. ‘We’re calling it nonpossession (by Mrazek),’ then we’re challenging a glove-hand pass. If it’s possession, then goaltender interference. I said, ‘Tell me the call on the ice.’ They wouldn’t do it when I say, ‘What is the call?’ So I had to flip a coin. …
“I said, ‘What was the call on the ice?’ and he said, ‘You’ve got to call one or the other.’ It should be so easy. If they said the goalie had it, then it’s an easy call. They wouldn’t tell you. It makes no sense. I know we weren’t the better team, but if that goal doesn’t go in, do we win that game? I don’t know.”
“There’s no way that’s a goal in any league,” Brind’Amour added. “We have a million people doing this and they can’t get it right. That’s the problem with this league.”
The league also tacked on a conditional fine of $25,000 if the coach exhibited any similar inappropriate behavior through Aug. 12, 2021. As you can see above, he waited a whole three months after that term expired before he unloaded on the refs.
2019 Playoffs: Nobody… somehow
During the 2019 playoffs, both Boston Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy and St. Louis Blues bench boss Craig Berube took shots at the officiating. From Berube challenging that he didn’t “agree with all the calls”, to Cassidy calling the officiating “egregious” and “a black eye” on the playoffs, it was a rough one. Neither coach was fined for their comments.
April 2018: Minnesota Wild’s Bruce Boudreau – $5,000
According to The Athletic’s Michael Russo, Wild coach Bruce Boudreau, sources say, was fined $5,000 during the Wild’s series against the Winnipeg Jets.
Winnipeg’s Josh Morrissey went unpenalized for a cross-check to the face of center Eric Staal. No penalty was called on the play by referee Steve Kozari. Boudreau argued that the non-call cost the Wild the game.
“My take is the same take as everybody in the building that saw it,” said Wild coach Bruce Boudreau after the game. “The refs looked at it and they decided not to call it because we were already on the power play. Cost us the game.”
TSN’s Darren Dreger spoke with Staal, who said that an official did apologize to him after the game for not making the call.
“I’m the tallest guy on the ice. He cross-checked me in the neck,” Staal said. “There’s not much more you can say. Everyone saw it. I don’t know how no one with stripes saw it.”
Morrissey was suspended one game for the cross-check.
February 2016: Winnipeg Jets’ Paul Maurice – $5,000
Winnipeg Jets head coach Paul Maurice was unhappy with a pair of unpenalized hits from Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Anton Stralman, one of which caused an injury. Maurice unloaded on referee Francois St. Laurent, who returned the favor with a bench minor.
When Maurice continued his tirade as the teams returned for the third period, St. Laurent decided he’d heard enough. Maurice was ejected from the game, and later fined $5,000.
January 2012: New York Rangers’ John Tortorella – $30,000
This wouldn’t have been the first time Torts’ mouth got him into trouble, but it might have been the most expensive. The Rangers head coach was $30,000 poorer after taking a shot at the officiating in the nationally-televised 2012 Winter Classic between the New York Rangers and the Philadelphia Flyers.
Torts questioned the calls – and non-calls – of referees Ian Walsh and Dennis LaRue, including a penalty shot awarded to Flyers center Danny Briere with 19.6 seconds remaining in the third period with the Flyers trailing 3-2.
“I’m not sure if NBC got together with the refs or what to turn this into an overtime game,” Tortorella said. “For two good refs, I thought the game was reffed horribly. I’m not sure what happened there. Maybe they wanted to get into overtime. I’m not sure if they had meetings about that or what. But we stood in there. I don’t want to… because they are good guys. I just thought it was, in that third period, it was disgusting.”
The NHL fired back, levying a $30,000 fine on the veteran coach.
“There is no acceptable explanation or excuse for commentary challenging the integrity of the League, its officials or its broadcast partners,” said Colin Campbell, the NHL Vice President of Hockey Operations. “People can disagree with calls by officials on the ice, but even in instances of the utmost frustration there is no justification for speaking as inappropriately and irresponsibly as Mr. Tortorella did.”
Tortorella apologized for his comments, citing “frustration” and calling his words “tongue-in-cheek” and “sarcastic comments” made at the wrong time. Keep in mind, his team won the game. He still paid up, though.
April 2012: Chicago Blackhawks’ Joel Quenneville – $10,000
Chicago Blackhawks head coach Joel Quenneville was fined $10,000 by the NHL for comments critical of the officiating after Tuesday’s 3-2 Game 3 overtime loss to the Phoenix Coyotes.
Quenneville said the “refereeing tonight was a disgrace” after no call was made by referees Kevin Pollock and Kelly Sutherland on a hit by Coyotes forward Raffi Torres that injured Hawks winger Marian Hossa. “It was a brutal hit,” Quenneville said. “You could have a multiple-choice question [on the reasons the hit was illegal] and it’s all of the above.”
Torres would be suspended 25 games for the hit, a sentence that was later reduced to 21 games upon appeal.
Of course, while the fine wasn’t technically for criticizing the officials, his ‘inappropriate conduct’ fine of $25,000 in 2014 was directly related to a non-call.
April 2012: Edmonton Oilers’ Tom Renney – $10,000
Edmonton Oilers head coach Tom Renney watched his team go shorthanded three times in a twelve-minute span. For the game, the Oilers were shorthanded five times, while the Kings were called for three penalties by referees Mike Leggo and Tim Peel. Not that it mattered on the scoreboard. Los Angeles went 0-for-3 on the power play, ultimately winning the game 2-0.
Renney’s comments implied a conspiracy led to the discrepancy.
“Maybe you need Hollywood in the playoffs,” said Renney. “I’m not sure.”
Hollywood did, in fact, squeak into the playoffs as the eight seed out West, later going on to win the 2012 Stanley Cup. The Oilers missed the postseason, finishing second-worst in the league.
January 2011: Los Angeles Kings GM Dean Lombardi – $50,000
Los Angeles Kings head coach Terry Murray kept quiet on a controversial high stick. His general manager? Not so much.
After a Kings’ 2-0 loss to the Phoenix Coyotes, Los Angeles GM Dean Lombardi charged that there was proof that Coyotes forward Martin Hanzal deflected in the game-winning goal with a high stick. The play was called a goal on the ice by referees Steve Kozari and Justin St. Pierre, and was upheld by the NHL after video review.
“We felt the views we had were not conclusive to overrule the refs’ call on the ice,” said NHL VP of Hockey Operations Mike Murphy
Lombardi felt there was more to it. He cited that Murphy, based on the review as well as a review that went against the Kings earlier in the season, held a grudge against L.A. after not being offered a front-office position.
“When the guy in Toronto making the decisions on the goals, in Ottawa and the one tonight, wanted the GM’s job in L.A. and was not happy about not getting it, you have to assume you are going to get those type of calls,” Lombardi said.
Commissioner Gary Bettman responded to Lombardi’s charge.
“There is no acceptable explanation or excuse for commentary challenging the integrity of the League’s Hockey Operations Department in general or Mike Murphy, in particular,” Bettman said in a statement.
“People can disagree with a call by an official on the ice or an official in the Situation Room in Toronto, but even in instances of the utmost frustration there is no justification for speaking as inappropriately and irresponsibly as Mr. Lombardi did. Mike Murphy is a devoted caretaker of the game. His commitment to the National Hockey League, all 30 of its clubs — and to the game — is beyond challenge, question or debate.”
Murphy played with the Kings for ten seasons (1973-1983) and was the club’s head coach for two seasons (1996-98).
May 2009: Chicago Blackhawks’ Joel Quenneville – $10,000
Chicago Blackhawks head coach Joel Quenneville was hit with a $10,000 fine for criticizing officials Marc Joannette and Kevin Pollock after a roughing penalty led to a key goal for the Detroit Red Wings. The penalty, to Chicago’s Matt Walker, led to a Valteri Filppula goal.
“I think we witnessed probably the worst call in the history of sports there,” Quenneville said “[It was a] nothing play. … They scored, it’s 3-0. [The officials] ruined a good hockey game and absolutely destroyed what was going on the ice. … Never seen anything like it.”
Detroit went on to win 6-1, taking a 3-1 lead in the series. The Wings would go on to win it in five.
November 2006: Edmonton Oilers’ Craig MacTavish – $10,000
Edmonton Oilers head coach MacTavish blasted referee Mick McGeough after a phantom hand-pass call wiped out the Oilers’ game-tying goal. The referee believed that center Shawn Horcoff had won the faceoff via hand pass back to his defenseman. Replays showed the puck was pushed by the staff of Horcoff’s stick.
“It was a [terrible] call,” MacTavish said. “There is no other explanation for it. I know he is a veteran official and at times I have found his antics humorous. But if this is the product of that there is a problem.”
“It was a ridiculous call. I had no idea what he had called. Nobody saw the hand pass on the play because quite clearly there wasn’t one. It’s beyond reason. He should be suspended.”
McGeough, to his credit, admitted fault on the disallowed goal, saying, “My judgment was poor on the play.”
“The NHL acknowledges the fact that referee Mick McGeough made the wrong call on a play late in the game, which he later admitted to the media following the game,” said Colin Campbell, NHL Director of Hockey Operations, via press release. “While the NHL regrets the missed call, Craig MacTavish’s comments after the game regarding the call were totally inappropriate and crossed the line.”
November 2006: Atlanta Thrashers’ Bob Hartley – $10,000
Hartley was assessed a gross misconduct penalty and later fined $10,000 for verbal abuse of the officials at the end of the Thrashers’ game against Washington. Referees for the game were Chris Rooney and Don Van Massenhoven, with Michel Cormier and Greg Devorski on lines.
April 2002: Vancouver Canucks’ GM Brian Burke – $30,000
Vancouver Canucks general manager Brian Burke was slapped with a $30,000 fine for criticizing the officiating during the Canucks’ playoff series against the Detroit Red Wings.
Burke objected to a number of issues in the series, including how the officials allowed the Wings to dispute penalty calls.
“We conveyed our concerns to the supervisor [former NHL referee Dave Newell] in the series and we were assured those concerns would be addressed,” Burke said after the series. “Only when they weren’t did I say, ‘Enough is enough.’ Our players have to believe that management is behind them.”
“I don’t take back a word of what I said and I don’t apologize for the statements I made. It’s not a sense of us whining about it once the tide turned in the series. We started complaining about stuff that was legitimate and we were told by the supervisor that our complaints would be addressed — and they weren’t.”
Burke argued that his complaints were regarding the “demeanour and the tone and the respect,” and not directed at any specific referees or linesmen.
“I have complete respect for the officials. I was their boss for five years and I know they have integrity and I know they do their best. What we were complaining about are things that should have been addressed at the supervisory level. Our beef was with [the NHL] and the manner in which the officials were handled in this series.”
May 2002: Maple Leafs’ Coach/GM Pat Quinn – $30,000
Toronto Maple Leafs head coach and general manager Pat Quinn made some costly comments after a playoff loss to the Islanders. New York took Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Final on a penalty shot called by referee Brad Watson with 2:30 remaining in the third period of a 3-3 game. Islanders winger Shawn Bates has his feet swept out from under him by the stick of a diving Bryan McCabe. Bates beat Joseph on the penalty shot and the Isles held on for a 4-3 win.
“I’ve had some disappointing results from officials but never one like this,” Quinn said after the game.
If the outcome was disappointing, the $30,000 fine certainly didn’t help. The Leafs, though, did manage to win the series in seven.
April 2002: New York Islanders’ GM Mike Milbury – $30,000
Not to be outdone by Brian Burke, New York Islanders general manager Mike Milbury also lashed out at the officiating during the Isles’ 2002 playoff series against the Leafs.
“We’ve got rules in this game and we’ve got to call them the way that they’re written,” Milbury said. “I have serious questions about the judgment used. We’re getting jobbed.”
Milbury targeted former Islanders defenseman Bryan McCabe on avoiding penalty calls for holding and interfering with his players.
“Is that holding or is that (expletive) holding? That’s a (expletive) joke. You cannot put your stick between a (expletive) guy’s legs. It’s an illegal play. It’s a (expletive) penalty and you’ll see that happen 10 times over for this kid. He did it when he was here and he didn’t get away with it and he shouldn’t get away with it. That’s obstruction, obstruction-tripping. Can it be any more clear than that? It can’t and it results in a scoring opportunity at the other end of the ice. [That’s McCabe’s] signature move. It’s (expletive) illegal. It’s a (expletive) penalty. He can’t (expletive) pivot that well and that’s why he uses it.”
Milbury continued, aided by video highlights.
“That’s a (expletive) penalty. You can’t put your stick between a (expletive) guy’s legs. If [the officials] don’t have the courage to call it, then there’s something wrong. Here it is, stick between the legs — the can opener — it’s (expletive) illegal.”
“If it goes one way, it’s got to go the other way. I listen to Pat Quinn (expletive) bitch about this for two days and now we get screwed.”
Milbury also got fined, to the tune of $30,000.
December 2001: New York Islanders’ Peter Laviolette – $200
As far as dollars go, this one’s certainly not the most impactful fine on the list. New York Islanders coach Peter Laviolette took exception to the work of referees Blaine Angus and Dan Marouelli in a game against the rival New Jersey Devils. Laviolette argued against a late penalty call that gave the Devils an overtime power play, as well as interference on a faceoff that led to New Jersey’s game-winning goal.
Laviolette was fined $200 for chasing down the referees after the game to voice his complaints.
March 1999: Philadelphia Flyers’ Roger Neilson – $25,000
Owner Ed Snider – $50,000
The Flyers lost their playoff series to the Maple Leafs. Their owner and head coach lost a little pocket change.
Philadelphia Flyers owner Ed Snider and head coach Roger Neilson were both fined for speaking out against referee Terry Gregson after a series loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs.
The Leafs won Game 6 by a score of 1-0, the lone goal coming on the power play in the final minute of regulation. The penalty was called on Flyers winger John LeClair for a shove on Leafs forward Mike Johnson. It came after what the Flyers saw as a pair of more serious non-calls. No penalty was called on Toronto’s Todd Warriner for a crosscheck to the head of Jody Hull, nor was one handed out for a hook on Philadelphia’s Rod Brind’amour that led to a Leafs three-on-two.
“He’s trying to decide the game and he’s a lousy (expletive) official,” Snider barked. “I understand I’m going to get fined and let me tell you something, I don’t care how much I’m going to get fined. It’s the truth and everybody in the stands knows it. Everybody in this city knows it. As far as I’m concerned, it’s a disgrace to the officiating in this league.
“I don’t know what I can do as a owner. I’ll tell you one thing, though. I’m sick to my stomach that this man would call this against John LeClair, one of the cleanest players in the league, after Jody Hull’s head was almost taken off. We have film showing that Gregson was looking right at it. I’m sick of it. It’s a disgrace. It’s an absolute disgrace.”
“When the official decides a game, it’s a disgrace,” Snider screamed. “Everybody in the stands knows what that guy did.”
“If [referee Terry] Gregson can sleep tonight, God bless him.”
Snider was hit with a $50,000 fine for his comments. His head coach was charged $25,000.
“To lose it on a call like that is unbelievable,” said Neilson.
Check back for updates… as these won’t be the last times a coach gets fined for blasting the officials.