MANALAPAN, Fla. — Kyle Dubas smiled. “Officiating,” he added with a laugh before a moment’s pause. “Everything is great with the officiating.
MANALAPAN, Fla. — Kyle Dubas smiled.
“Officiating,” he added with a laugh before a moment’s pause.
“Everything is fine with the office.”
The Toronto Maple Leafs general manager has taken lightly the ever-hot topic of what is and isn’t named in the NHL.
Dubas and the league’s 31 other GMs heard from Director of Officiating Stephen Walkom Monday as part of their first face-to-face meeting since before the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020.
“It’s not perfect and they recognize that,” said Dubas. “That was something Stephen said very clearly. The game goes so fast. We are not perfect in management, coaching and games.
“Generally speaking, if you’re talking to Stephen after you’ve cooled off, if you’re hot for a call after your game, he’s really good at going through things that they’re going through.”
Dubas and the Leafs were seething earlier this month when a glaring hold on Auston Matthews was ignored in the crucial sequence in an overtime loss to the Arizona Coyotes.
The NHL’s leading scorer often has the puck on his stick and gets a lot of attention from defenders, but has conceded an absurdly few nine rule violations this season.
That puts him in 304th place – on par with the likes of Curtis Lazar, Michael Amadio and Warren Foegele.
Oilers star Connor McDavid, meanwhile, has seen league-high 44 penalties against opponents who checked him. Many have come after the issue was publicly addressed by the Edmonton captain.
Leafs winger Michael Bunting, who plays alongside Matthews in the Toronto back line, finished third overall with 37 penalties drawn before springing into action on Monday night.
Dubas added he understands the difficulty of officiating an NHL game and how inherently thankless the job is.
“Nobody’s ever happy with it. You’re just unhappy with it,” he said. “When you win the game and everything has gone pretty well, you don’t really give credit to the office, you give credit to your team. When things are going badly, and we’ve had a few moments like this this year, it’s easy to look to the officials and say it has to be their fault.
“If you really put yourself in a position to get where a call either way can dictate the game.”
Dubas pointed out that having problems with officials is universal in sports.
“We understand that not everyone is perfect,” he said. “We’re certainly far from perfect and we make more mistakes than they do.”
With his team in a close race for Atlantic Division playoff positioning, Dubas said he never sought an explanation for the lack of calls Matthews received.
But the Leafs GM has a few theories, including the player’s 6’2″ and 205-pound frame.
“He hardly ever gets knocked down and he doesn’t really complain,” said Dubas. But he’s not one to complain. He just goes and does his thing and rolls.
“We wish his style of play had more appeal but they don’t think it does.”
This report from The Canadian Press was first published on March 28, 2022.
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Joshua Clipperton, The Canadian Press