Wednesday, March 16, 2011
9.3.2 If the referee is in doubt on a call, i.e. the referee sees the effects of a hit but does not see the action, a penalty must not be called.
Referees are not there to assume things happened, they are there to make calls they see to facilitate the safety of the game. A referee should never, ever use the explanation “well, I saw someone fall so there must have been an illegal hit.” Granted, I have never heard such an explanation, nor do I know of anyone who has, but I have experienced referees explain that they made a call they weren’t 100% sure of. This is akin to a police officer saying “I didn’t see you hit that person but they’re on the ground so you must have, and now I’m arresting you for assault.” Yeah, that may seem like a ridiculous comparison, but the idea is the same. As a head referee I have told other referees that I am willing to stand behind them on every call that they make, so long as they can defend every call they make. Also, this rule is a little misleading. Refs don’t just make a call when they see an action and then an effect. We don’t make calls based on action and reaction, we make calls based on cause and effect. If a skater makes a hit with an elbow, and the receiving skater goes down, the receiver may not have been forced down by the elbow. The referee must be absolutely sure that the illegal action (elbow) was the cause for the effect (fall). The rules include very specific wording such as “that causes an opposing skater” and “that forces the receiving opposing skater”. Here and there over the next week or so I will be covering the companion rules to this one from section 9.3.