Calgary Flames: Are Fans Rightfully Frustrated By The Officiating?

For a year now, Calgary Flames fans have been quite frustrated with the officiating against the Flames. But now, is there objective proof that it’s a problem?

Everybody knows about the infamous Dennis Wideman cross-checking a ref incident that happened almost a year ago. On January 27th, 2016, to be exact. It was definitely one of the weirdest moments to happen in 2016 for the Calgary Flames.

With that incident, it almost seems like he now has a target on his back from the officials. I mean, every team probably thinks that the refs are out to get them every game. But do Flames fans actually have an objective case? Are Flames fans rightfully frustrated?

Let’s take a look at the evidence.

Before the incident

Let’s take a look at the kinds of penalties the Flames were taking before the incident. From the start of the 2014-2015 season until that hit on January 27th, 2016, the Flames were third last for PIM, second last in penalties, and last in minor penalties in the entire league.

So clearly, this team knew how to remain disciplined.

But what’s been happening since then?

Since that incident, the Flames are third in the league for PIM, second for penalties and first for minor penalties.

In this season alone, the Flames are leading the league in all three of those categories. Even Sportsnet have recognized that there may be something called the “Wideman Effect.” This is what they had to say about it:

Let’s dig deeper: in the first 47 games last season — prior to Wideman’s crosscheck on Henderson — the Flames averaged 2.62 minors per game. In the 34 games after the incident, they averaged 3.88. That’s a 48 per cent jump in-season, for the same Flames team with roughly the same roster.

Since the incident

Like I showed above, since the Wideman incident, the Calgary Flames have had a lot more penalty calls on them. I’ve mentioned this before, but I actually remember a few weeks after the incident and the Flames were playing a game.

Another player tripped Michael Frolik and he fell. Me watching the game, I’m like “Ok great, now we’ll get a power play.” However that wasn’t the case. The officials instead gave a diving call to Frolik and the Flames got the penalty instead.

Even Rick Ball and Kelly Hrudey, Flames commentators, were stunned at that call. I believe it was Hrudey who said, “Wow. THAT was a diving call?” and continued with, “I’m not one to talk about poor officiating, but there have been some weird calls against the Flames lately.”

Then even still this season this continues. With the season opener this year against the Edmonton Oilers, Connor McDavid got a breakaway and Wideman went back to try and stop him. Long story short, but they ended up giving McDavid a penalty shot which he ended up scoring on.

It left many fans angry, saying things like “What do you expect getting Wideman against a player like Mcdavid?” Even Oilers fans were saying that shouldn’t have even been a penalty, let alone a penalty shot.

But why this also made fans especially mad is that in the offensive zone right before the breakaway, there were some hooks and holds on Johnny Gaudreau, but of course, no penalty. And because of those hooks and holds, he lost the puck which led to the breakaway. Alright let’s stop talking about this specific moment because it makes my blood boil.

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Objective proof?

There was a game against the San Jose Sharks just days ago on January 11th, 2017 where the Flames were up 3-2 and there was about a minute left and Johnny Gaudreau gets an empty-net opportunity, but gets hooked in the process.

In an empty-netter situation, that should be an automatic goal because of rule 57.4.

Kerry Fraser, former NHL official, also said it should be a goal. Via

In my judgment Johnny Gaudreau should have been awarded a goal on the play under rule 57.4 which states:

“If, when the opposing goalkeeper has been removed from the ice, a player in control of the puck (or who could have obtained possession and control of the puck) in the neutral zone or attacking zone is tripped or otherwise fouled with no opposition between him and the opposing goal, thus preventing a reasonable scoring opportunity, the Referee shall immediately stop play and award a goal to the attacking team.”

He does go into more detail and depth of the situation and why it should have been an automatic goal on his website that I linked above. He then finishes off that blog post by saying, “Given the spirit, intent and language of rule 57.4, this is about as clear an awarded goal situation as it gets.”

And with only ten seconds left of the game, the Sharks had a breakaway that, if it ended up being a goal, Flames fans would have been absolutely livid. I mean, they already were pretty mad:

What do you think? Is this enough to claim that there is a problem with bias against the Calgary Flames?

Nobody can really say for sure. Let’s just hope that in 2017, it’s a new year and a fresh new start. And by fresh new start, I mean not so many penalties.

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