Referee-lobbying, Crosby insults and Perry’s antics drag down NHL playoffs

Sidney Crosby (Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)
Sidney Crosby (Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)

Let me preface today’s file by saying that, like millions of people, I’ve had a blast watching the first round of the NHL playoffs. Multiple overtime games, numerous comebacks and unexpected heroes have led to unforgettable thrills virtually every night of the post-season. But I wouldn’t be a crusty media type if there weren’t some things that were peeving me off. Here are a few things I’m sick and tired of seeing in the 2014 post-season:

1. Referee Lobbying Through The Press. I get that NHL referees have missed a few calls this post-season. (Okay, more than a few.) I do. But is there any bigger waste of air than NHL players and/or coaches and/or management members trying to goad officials into altering their approach to the way they call penalties?

Not for me, there’s not. The constant carping is a distraction from what we should be talking about at this time of year – teams and players that make plays, and teams and players that don’t – and the Bruins and Canadiens are the latest examples of this: after Boston coach Claude Julien complained about the officiating in Game 2 of their second round series Sunday, his Montreal counterpart Michel Therrien threw a verbal counterpunch.

“They try to influence referees,” Therrien said of the Bruins. “That’s the way they are. That’s not going to change. That’s the way they like to do their things, but for us, we’re not paying attention to those things.”

Although he tried to characterize himself as taking the high road when it came to refereeing, Therrien was engaged in indirect counter-lobbying of the officials. There seems to be no end to it, which is why I’d love to see NHL commissioner Gary Bettman really crack down on any coach or player who attempts, even vaguely, to gin up some sort of officiating controversy. Leave your excuses or conspiracy theories in the dressing room where they belong, hockey people. Nothing good can come of them.

2. Casual Misogyny And Sidney Crosby. How many years now have we heard the Penguins captain referred to as “Cindy Crysby”? It’s beyond tired, but it’s also a good example of the everyday sexism that permeates some corners of the game.

For too many people, being compared to a female represents an insult. It’s not. If you think Crosby complains too much, I’m good with any variant on “crying” as part of a derogatory nickname for him, but can we get beyond lowest-common denominator chauvinism? If not, can we at least let people know they come off like a petulant, thought-challenged baby when they engage in this type of nonsense? It’s not funny and it doesn’t affect Crosby in the least. Try harder with your insults.

3. Corey Perry In General. Unless you’re a Ducks fan, watching Perry is an exercise in having your blood pressure spike. He was at it again Monday in Game 2 of Anaheim’s second round series against L.A., squirting water into the glove of Kings star Jeff Carter and doing whatever he could to embed himself under the skin of the opposition. In some ways, he’s acting exactly as he’s supposed to. But you can see why players get tired of just seeing his face after a while – and why there was an undeniable sense of wish fulfillment for Perry-haters later in Game 2 when Kings goalie Jonathan Quick decided to punch Perry in an area south of his hips and north of his knees and thighs.

Perry would tell you he’ll trade all those punches for another Stanley Cup victory, but his non-stop antics make clear he’s right up there with Brad Marchand and Daniel Carcillo as one of the league’s most annoying presences. It’d be nice to say Perry will be missed if/when the Kings eliminate Anaheim, but it won’t be true.