Clueless Kelly Sutherland isn't the only one who hates the Canucks

There are things you learn to accept when you are unlucky enough to be a fan of the Vancouver Canucks. 

The first and biggest one is that God hates the team that you stupidly root for year after year. How else do you explain 42 years of abject fucking failure? And, no, the three fruitless cup runs and various president's trophies don't count for anything. They only pour Sifto salt into a gaping wound. Even during those rare years when the team has been great, Vancouver has never won the cup, and probably never will. 

The second one is that the rest of Canada hates Vancouver's most-loved team. Which, quite frankly, is no big deal. Hands up if you'd rather do a pub crawl with Brad Marchand and Matt Cooke than watch the Toronto Maple Leafs escape the first round. 

What might suck the most, though, is that morons at the National Hockey League's head office clearly hate the Canucks as much as everybody else. Why else would Clueless Kelly Sutherland be allowed within a 10-mile radius of the Shark Tank in San Jose last night? The Richmond-raised "referee" can take a deep bow for completely and utterly assbanging Vancouver hockey fans during Game 4 of the Canucks-Sharks opening round series.

Sutherland didn't cause Vancouver to lose the round in four straight. What he did do is cost them the game that ended the round.

The Sharks simply outplayed Vancouver, who never bothered putting in a 60-minute effort during the entire painful-to-watch series. Had there been a Game 5, the smart Vegas money would have been on San Jose. The Sharks had superior hustle and scoring, a better power play, and better goaltending. Vancouver had little to give until last night, when the team at least showed up for the first and third periods.

Given that the series' result was a foregone conclusion before Game 4, what was the NHL doing assigning Sutherland to ref a Canucks game, especially one in the playoffs? Was Stephane Auger not available? 

The NHL has done a bang-up job of making sure that the only consistent thing about its refereeing is complete inconsistency. Following the lockout of 2004, the league announced a sea change in the way games would be called. In an effort to put an end to the clutching and grabbing that characterized the decade-long dead-puck era, all penalties were supposed to be called.

Flash forward to 2013 and what's a penalty and what's not evidently changes at the discretion of who is on the ice. Last night, the Minnesota Wild's Cal Clutterbuck annihilating Chicago Blackhawk Brent Seabrook against the boards was considered a great hockey play. (So great, in fact, that the NHL has highlighted it on its web site).

Widely loathed serial offender Matt Cooke of the Pittsburgh Penguins delivered a mammoth against-the-boards hit that set up a Brandon Sutter goal in the game against the New York Islanders, with no penalty on the play.

Down in San Jose, meanwhile, Kelly Sutherland—who was 80 feet away from the play—decides that a shoulder-to-shoulder hit by noted thug Daniel Sedin on Shark Tommy Wingels is a penalty. In overtime. In an elimination game. In a game where the refs had already called a soft penalty against Kevin Bieksa for "crosschecking" with five minutes left in the third, leading to a tying goal. And, yes, everyone on TSN's Hockey Central panel called the Bieksa penalty soft.

With Daniel off for boarding in OT, the Sharks scored. Evidently of the opinion that the enraged Canucks needed one final kick in the cojones, Sutherland finished off the game by slapping Daniel with a game misconduct for abusive language. Good thing he didn't hear Henrik Sedin describe the call as "bullshit" in the dressing room just minutes later.

What makes all this doubly maddening? Consider Sutherland's history with the Canucks, and then ask why the NHL would assign him to the series for a crucial, deciding game.

This is the same referee who, this past March 3, gave Canucks head coach Alain Vigneault a two-minute bench minor in a game against the Calgary Flames, leading to a goal that cost Vancouver the game. The flashpoint for the penalty?

As a livid Vigneault explained later: "That penalty that was given to me in the third period, all I did was stand on the bench and say, 'That's an elbow.' Not one g-damn word. Nothing. I didn't use the f-word. I stood on the bench for .5 seconds and I said, 'That's an elbow.' And that's how I got two minutes and that's how they scored the goal.”

He added: "The same accountability that is demanded of players and coaches is demanded of referees and that's not acceptable. There's no way we should lose this game on a call like that."

Sutherland is the same ref who ended up handing the Canucks five straight penalties in Game 4 during Vancouver's 2011 playoff meeting with San Jose, including two five-on-threes. He was one of two refs on the ice when Chicago Blackhawk Duncan Keith concussed Daniel Sedin—who was in the neutral zone without the puck—in a March 21, 2012 game against the Canucks. Sedin missed the rest of the regular season, and the first three games of the playoffs. Keith was assessed a two-minute minor.

And let's not forget that Sutherland is the ref who, during the 2011 Stanley Cup finals against the Boston Bruins, fucked up a Game 6 call that Stevie Wonder and Helen Keller would both have got right. You might remember Boston Bruin Brad Marchand using Daniel Sedin's head as a speedbag, later explaining that he repeatedly punched the Canuck star in the head because "I felt like it."

Sutherland was right there in the middle. Sedin asked Sutherland why he wasn't calling a penalty. Sutherland responded with "I will," causing Sedin to respond with "When—after the fifth punch?" 

True to his word, Sutherland then gave Sedin a 10-minute misconduct for being punched repeatedly in the head. 

The point of all this? Well, from all the evidence here, the appearance is—rightly or wrongly—that Clueless Kelly Sutherland hates the Canucks as much as God and the rest of Canada.

And given there's that perception, why would the NHL slot him in for an elimination game featuring Vancouver, leading to a call that even San Jose Sharks fans are describing as a blown one? A blown one that immediately bounced the Canucks out of the playoffs. 

What do we have today? Message boards lighting up with hockey fans amazed that the clowns who run the NHL can't seem to get anything goddamn right, especially when it comes to refereeing. The NHL, which quite frankly doesn't need any more bad press at this point in time, now has another PR nightmare on its hands.

The sad thing is all this could have been avoided. Even without the divine intervention of Clueless Kelly Sutherland, the Canucks would have lost the series.

Why, one last time, did Sutherland get the nod to ref a game where he clearly has an antagonistic history with one of the teams? Blame God. 

 

Follow Mike Usinger on the Tweeter at twitter.com/mikeusinger.

Comments (55) Add New Comment
Rod Ellis
I used to enjoy watching hockey when the players determined the winner. No more NHL for me.
Rating: +81
Hockey fan 76
You seriously blame Sutherland for Sedins boarding? He must have magic puppeteer powers. Stop wining the Canucks lost for themselves it had nothing to do with officiating. You should like a sore ass loser.
Rating: -162
Akvavit
If that was boarding then Ping Pong is the next official game of Canada. The guy received a clean shoulder hit that was directed parallel to the boards, then 'somehow' twisted and slid into the boards... these guys aren't that far from Hollywood, so they probably get a lot of acting lessons.
Rating: +79
Mose
Hockey Fan 76....He isn't blaming the loss of the series on the refs. The Canucks lost the series because they were out-played in every aspect of the game, not because of Kelly Sutherland.
But it should be pointed out just how pathetic those two calls were (on Bieksa with 5 mins left in 3rd, and on Daniel in overtime)
That's such bullshit bush league refereeing, and it needs to be pointed out. It cost us the game. We may have lost the game anyways, and even if we HAD won the game, we probably would lost the series anyway, BUT...
Either Kelly Sutherland is biased in the way he calls the game (ie has it in for the Canucks), or he's just a really really bad referee. The Canucks lost the series on their own, but Sutherland needs to be held accountable for the calls.
Rating: +112
j. noakes
Kelly Sutherland is a disgrace and shouldn't be refereeing.
Rating: +88
shoes
I wish Kelly Sutherland and Tommy Wingels all the best in their future together. But when did Sutherland break up with Marchand?
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Rating: +55
shoes
I forgot to mention....good blog. The only professional sports league in North America where cheating is applauded by some and the head of all on ice officials has a boy playing for the Stanley cup. Not great optics and Americans, who love a level playing field, will not be attracted to this BS.
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Rating: +34
Alan Layton
There's no point in blaming the officiating. There are fans from every team who do it, every game, so if it is a conspiracy, then they are spreading the favouritism around evenly. The Canucks just didn't have it this year and I'm not sure they'll have it next year either...or the year after that etc.
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Rating: -55
ACMESalesRep
And people wonder why the rest of Canada really can't stand the Canucks or their fans. Outscored 15-8 over four games? Outshot 146-126? Must be the refs' fault!

(Meanwhile, the Leafs lose in OT on a brutal pinch by Dion Phaneuf – and he stands up to the press and says “I made a bad play and it cost us the game”. Compare and contrast.)
Rating: -60
Billy Bob
Here, here. The NHL is ridiculous. I've never understood why the rules change over the course of a season. The NFL is the gold standard, what is pass interference in week 1 is the same in the Super Bowl. The short basketball accountant should be fired and replaced with someone without an agenda to sell the game to southern rednecks. I hate this league.
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Rating: +37
Tommy Wingels The Diver
Wingels is a joke, lets recap little Tommy The Divers Game last night.
If the NHL isnt fixed then Tommy will have made himself real popular towards the referees that he clowned and embarrassed.

1..snaps his head back extra on Hamhuis draws 4 min penalty
2.Dives headfirst towards the boards on Bieksa, penalty costs the canucks the game sending it to O.T
3.Dives headfirst into the boards on a shoulder to shoulder hit with one of the softest players to EVER play in the NHL.
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Rating: +38
Lawrence Kootnikoff
I don't think anyone's blaming the officiating for the Canucks being bounced. But it does seem NHL referees are either routinely incompetent, unprofessional, or both.
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Rating: +33
Truth hurts
The NHL makes the olympics look ethical.
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Rating: +30
Cory Van
No the Canucks weren't going to beat the Sharks with their poor play last week, but it's not the point here. It's about the officiating and while I'm deadly certain it's difficult to call such a high speed game, come on! Teams around the league get bonehead calls so there is a league wide problem that is damaging the sport .. Canucks seem to get more than their share... the term "managing the score" was mentioned during a broadcast and seriously, all you have to do is look at the Bieksa and Sedin call and have to wonder if there's truth to it. Conspiracy that! ;p
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Rating: +23
Alan
ACMESalesRep
Do you read Twitter or any forums? Leafs fans are blaming the refs just as much, heck I went to the Islanders forums and they are too. Guess what...Canucks fans aren't so different from others, it's just that haters like you seem to think so.
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Rating: +21
Smokey
This is the story of the Vancouver Canucks...the team the referees came to f***...for something that they never done...knocked out of the playoffs, but one time, they coulda been the champions of the world!
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Rating: -11
Dolittle
I'm getting embarrassed being a Canucksfan. Last years riots and now this stupidity. It wasn't any refs fault. Our boys didn't bring it. The end. Please stop sounding like sore losers. It's embarrassing.
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Rating: -30
Sandrino
Born and bred in Vancouver, and was a Canucks fan until 2011 SC finals. Seriously, Canucks fans, don't you ever wonder why EVERYONE hates the Canucks now? The writer is wrong, it's not just everyone in Canada, it's everyone outside of Vancouver who follows the NHL. There is no parallel hatred of Black Hawks, Bruins, Kings so it's not (like my brother says), 'they hate us 'cuz we're so good'. No, it's not that actually. They hate the Canucks (and their fans) because you're smug, whiny, and ignorant and actually believe there is a conspiracy to keep you from the Cup. Yeah, right.

The first call was marginal, the second was bad, but geez, it's beyond a joke to focus on the refs in this series.
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Rating: -36
Daryl
Blame "God". By "God", you mean "Gary Bettman".
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Rating: +52
Chris
After seven years being a Canucks fan, I'm done. Vancouver Canucks has become the cursed team in the NHL (led by that k*** Bettman) and I can't take it no more.
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Rating: +4

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