Do Referees Affect The Outcome Of Games?

Disgraced NBA referee Tim Donaghy was on 60 Minutes Sunday night, talking about how he gambled on basketball and how he was ultimately fired from his $300,000 a year job, his wife divorced him, he did eleven months in prison, and his world came crashing down. His winning average on these bets were around 80%, and he received a lousy $2000 for every bet he was successful at. The mob, of course, made millions from this guy, and a couple of them also ended up doing time.

But what he says about the goings-on in the NBA makes me wonder if something similar isn’t happening in the NHL. Not once have I ever accused the NHL of any sort of fixing or indiscretion, but when I heard what Donaghy had to say, I made me think a little, not about referees gambling, but about how they might affect the outcome of games.

Donaghy says NBA referees have a certain relationship with players, coachs, GM’s, and owners, and they will either help or screw over certain players if deemed necessary. Allen Iverson, for instance, incurred the wrath of the referees for things he’d said, and so in turn, the refs wouldn’t call fouls on him, or call curious fouls against him, either of which threw him off his game which would directly change the outcome. And Donaghy says the referee supervisors approved of the officials punishing Iverson.

The league would favour superstar Kobe Bryant because calls in the past against him had been missed, and so Bryant was often given special treatment by the officials.

The refs in general discuss among each other who they like and dislike and how they may band together to help or hurt different individuals. Donaghy also says the league wants playoff games to be extended as it means more money, and they also want the big-market teams to advance, not the small markets.

Do you think any of the above might pertain to the NHL? Do you think the referees let things slide when it comes to Sidney Crosby and Alex Ovechkin. Maybe Ovechkin deserved more than a two-game suspension for his knee-on-knee hit, but because he’s a marquee player whom fans buy tickets to see, he was given a minimal sentence. And he was hurt for the two games anyway, so the suspension was redundant.

Do you think a player like Sean Avery, who surely talks trash to not only opposing players but referees too, would be looked at closer than others, and some fouls against him are let go, and the slightest thing he does is called?

Do you think any of what Donaghy says about basketball might be happening in hockey,  if the NHL approves certain things decided upon by the referees and whether they really do want the big markets to succeed more than smaller markets. Are marquee players treated with kid gloves?  Are they doing and thinking what’s best for the sport?

Gary Bettman and the league would deny any of this ’till the cows come home. But if it happens in the NBA, certainly it could happen in the NHL.

I hardly think league brass are angels.


8 thoughts on “Do Referees Affect The Outcome Of Games?”

  1. I would say that the league definitely treats high profile players a little better then players that don’t necessarily draw crowds. No Alex Ovechkin or Sydney Crosby on the bench and these fly-by-night fans may not decided to watch an entire game.

  2. Hi Justin. I don’t like the idea that the league wants the big market teams to do well and not so much the smaller market teams. It kind of makes me think that’s why Bettman isn’t crazy about another team in Winnipeg.

  3. Dennis, I absolutely believe there is corruption in the NHL. And it’s all about the money. Just look at the amount of overtime games being played. This was an invention by Bet-Man to make more money under the pretext it would increase interest in the game south of the border. I also agree star players are treated differently – they rarely get penalties and if anyone so much as lays a finger on them they are treated severely.
    When we played Boston early last month in Boston we almost won that game in regulation time by 1-0. Price would have got a shutout too, but in the last minute of play there was no call against Charra for interference when he pile drived Spacek into the crease and onto Price causing Boston to score.
    There has also been a pattern to call at least two penalties against Montreal in the first period before the other team receives any penalty at all.
    That dirty hit by Chicago’s Ladd against D’Agostini gave him a concussion and no suspension resulted. Laraque got five games even though he is not known to be dirty – but Ovechkin got only two games and he is notorious for his late hits, and cheap shots of all kinds especially his slew footing.
    I also hate it when the refs “let things go” and allow a physical game to be played, but then all of a sudden a minor little thing which was let go all game long is called usually against Montreal late in the period.
    And yes, I also think that there is a fix in to help big market or emerging market teams gain an edge and advance in the playoffs at the expense of others (i.e. Canadian teams).

  4. Thanks Danno. Some of the penalties guys are called for are amazing. They hardly touch the other guy and they’re sent off. I’ve always defended the integrity of the league until I saw how it works in the NBA. Now I’m not so sure anymore. If there’s one justice for star players and big markets, and another for lesser players and small markets, then it’s not right and should be fixed. Why do I get the feeling Bettman is more crooked than I thought?

  5. Hi Dennis;Yes of course there is reffing irregularities in hockey,I think Bettman is behind this as hockey never saw so many penalties in the past,they are trying to make the game faster and more appealing but they slow it down with all of the calls.You cant breathe on an opposing player at times without drawing a friggin idoitic made in america penalty.I first thought there was something going on in 93 when the Habs won on the 100th anniversary of the cup,I was happy that they won but I didnt really think they deserved to be there,nor did Los Angeles as the Leafs(god help me for saying this)deserved to be there in the final.A planned Stanley Cup was the product that year I think.

  6. I like to think the referees aren’t cheating for their own personal gain, but I don’t doubt they’re “just following orders” from the league.

    I was surprised that Ovechkin was suspended even for the 2 games he was injured. It sets a bad precedent for suspending a start. Earlier in the year Colin Campbell used the excuse that Alex had no history when he was reviewing his trip of Rich Peverley, despite his cheap shot on Sergei Gonchar during last years playoffs.

    Traditionally referees didn’t call a penalty late in the game unless it clearly caused or prevented a scoring chance. This year there seems a new desire for games to go to overtime and shoot-out. OT is happening at record rates this year. So only the team down by 1-2 goals gets the free passes, the winning team plays under a microscope.

    In 2004, Calgary appeared to score what would probably have been the Stanley Cup winning goal late in game 6, but it was called back. This gave Tampa Bay the chance to win that game in overtime and game 7 and the cup.

    In 1999, Brett Hull scored the Stanley Cup winning goal for Dallas (over Buffalo) while his skate was in the crease. All year long, that was grounds for calling back the goal, but not for Hull and Dallas.

    In 1993, Wayne Gretzky high-sticked Doug Gilmore in overtime of game 6 without penalty moments before he scored the game winning goal. The worst thing is that it deprived Montreal the opportunity to knock off Toronto in the finals and has given Leaf fans something to cling to.

  7. I side with you Christopher,you could bet money and win if ou bet on the losing team geting a powerplay in the last two minutes of a game,a way to make the game more appealing to down southers who dont really give a shit anyways.Please give us our game back,although it’s been changed so much i’m afraid it’s to late

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