Just last summer Connor Mcdavid admitted that NHL referees have a tough job. While calling for more consistency out of the striped officials, he admitted they have some of the toughest jobs in one of the fastest moving sports in the world.

Mcdavid was calling for consistency due to the fact that last season he had drawn the most penalties in the regular season, but had drawn none in the Winnipeg Jets’ four game sweep of Edmonton.

Last season’s Hart trophy winner has a very decent argument here, and not just for consistency in the playoffs vs the regular season. Mcdavid has drawn seven penalties in just his last six games. In comparison, all-star Alex Ovechkin has drawn less than seven penalties all season, and the Lightning’s Steven Stamkos has drawn less than half of that.

Granted, Ovechkin, Stamkos, and Mcdavid have very different styles of play. Mcdavid is quicker and more agile down the ice, which in turn draws more penalties. That being said, the discrepancy in penalty calling is absurd. It would appear that the league at large is susceptible to public discourse and is influenced by it.

Connor Mcdavid’s Drawn Penalty Rate

Everytime that MCdavid begins to complain about officiating, and in turn Edmonton fans as well, the league’s officials begin to give Mcdavid the calls he deserves. It is arguable that the NHL’s officials simply have streaks of time where they call more penalties on everyone, and times where they swallow their whistles.

While this would seem to be fair for all players because everyone is getting similar calls, it directly hurts someone like Mcdavid who is capable of drawing penalties almost every game. Those games where the refs swallow their whistles become detrimental to Edmonton’s season.

This chart shows that when Mcdavid is in a penalty drawing slump, the league officials often over-correct and start calling penalties drawn by Mcdavid. It seems to be a reasonable assumption that both NHL commissioner Gary Bettman and the league’s officials are susceptible to succumbing to chatter about the inconsistency of referees.

Minor Inconvenience

Although it is frustrating for Mcdavid and co that they can’t always get the calls they deserve, there is a clear advantage to Mcdavid’s penalty drawing abilities. Excluding Major penalties like fighting and game misconduct, since entering the league Mcdavid has drawn the most minor penalties of anyone.

The majority of these penalties are tripping, hooking, interference, or holding penalties because of Mcdavid’s speed and skill. Anyone trying to stop or catch up to Mcdavid is going to have to use their stick or their body to get in the way of him and they’re getting called a lot of the time.

Consistency is Key

At the end of the day all anybody wants out of referees is consistency, and I especially get that from a player who is the most affected by it out of anyone in the league. Because of his skills Mcdavid gets hacked, slashed, and held more than anybody else. 

Even in the NFL, all players and fans want calls to be made the same way each time. Obviously every play is different, but the criteria for what makes a certain penalty a penalty needs to be clarified, especially in the NHL where the rulebook is so far removed from what the game actually looks like today.

As a player he just wants to see everything called both ways for both teams, and for the league officials to have some sort of understanding of the rulebook and how it should be consistently called. Whether or not you like Mcdavid and the Oilers, I think that’s a fair request.


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