There’s an adage in sports that goes something like this: If you’re not talking about the referees, it’s because they’re doing a good job. Well, plenty of folks are talking about NHL referee Kelly Sutherland after Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Final.
The veteran referee had a clear view when Blues forward Tyler Bozak upended Bruins forward Noel Acciari in the third period Thursday night. Sutherland even had his choice of calls. A trip? Sure looked like it. How about a slew foot, defined as when a player comes up behind or alongside an opponent and uses his foot to knock the legs out? Certainly could’ve called that as well.
Sutherland went for a different option: None of the above. The veteran of 1,207 regular-season games, 164 playoff games, and now six Stanley Cup Finals, made no call.
As a result of the play, the Blues took possession of the puck and grabbed a 2-0 lead just 10 seconds later when David Perron scored what proved to be the game-winning goal with 9:24 remaining.
NHL senior vice president and director of officiating Stephen Walkom released a statement to a pool reporter: “We don’t make comments on judgment calls within games. There are hundreds of judgment calls in every game. The official on the play, he viewed it and he didn’t view it as a penalty at the time.”
In addition to refereeing in the NHL for 18 years, Sutherland also worked the 2014 Olympics in Sochi, Russia, as well as the 2016 World Cup of Hockey in Toronto. He also received an endorsement from Kerry Fraser, the referee of 2,165 NHL games and 12 Stanley Cups, who tweeted in 2011 after his retirement that Sutherland “does a great job and surely one of their very best.”
Kelly Sutherland was ref partner in my final game in NHL 04-11-10 NYR @ PHI. He does a great job and surely one of their very best.— Kerry Fraser (@kfraserthecall) November 19, 2011
Sutherland, 48, is from Richmond, British Columbia. His previous Stanley Cup Final assignments included the Bruins-Canucks series in 2011, according to the NHL Officials Association website, and he also was a referee in the gold-medal game at the 2014 Olympics between Canada and Sweden. He wears No. 11.
Sutherland has chosen to keep the whistle in his pocket before, and the Bruins have been the beneficiaries. In the 2011 Stanley Cup Final, it was Sutherland who watched Brad Marchand repeatedly punch Daniel Sedin.
Sutherland swooped in and separated the two without administering a penalty to Marchand, and seemed to take umbrage with Sedin’s questioning,
“I asked him why he didn’t call the penalty. He said he was going to,” Sedin said after the game.
It hardly comes as a surprise that a Vancouver Canucks fan created a Fire Kelly Sutherland Facebook page.
No such account appears to exist on Twitter. Your move, Bruins fans.