Wes McCauley will ref Game 3 between the Toronto Maple Leafs and Florida Panthers
Photo credit:Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports
By Cam Lewis17 days ago
The Toronto Maple Leafs are facing an uphill battle in their second-round series with the Florida Panthers.
Fresh off of a shocking seven-game win over the Presidents’ Trophy-winning Boston Bruins in the first round, the Panthers came into Toronto and beat the Leafs twice to jump out to a 2-0 lead in the series. The Leafs are now facing what’s essentially a must-win situation in Game 3 in Florida on Sunday as only a handful of teams have ever come back and won after going down 3-0 in a best-of-seven playoff series.
According to Chris Johnston, Game 3 between the Leafs and Panthers will also be reffed by Wes McCauley, who’s become a controversial figure around Leafs nation.
McCauley called Game 1 between the Leafs and the Tampa Bay Lightning in the first round of the playoffs. The Leafs got hammered by a score of 7-3 and it put them at 0-8 all-time in playoff games that were reffed by McCauley.
During the second intermission of Game 1 between Toronto and Tampa, ESPN analyst and Hall of Fame defenceman Chris Chelios said that the reffing in the game had been “absolutely terrible” and that it was the worst he had seen in a while. But beyond that game, none of Toronto’s other seven playoff losses with McCauley reffing featured a noticeable discrepancy in penalties against the Leafs.
The Capitals were heavily favoured over a young Toronto squad in 2017 and the penalties called were even in the Game 5 loss that year. There also didn’t appear to be any penalty bias in those three games against the Boston Bruins between 2018 and 2019, and the deciding Game 7 in the latter of those two series featured no penalties called against the Leafs. The two losses to the Blue Jackets during the bubble tournament in 2020 can be chalked up to Columbus’ goalies posting a .952 save percentage during the series. Finally, last year’s Game 7 loss to the Lightning at home saw two penalties called on Toronto, one of which was a delay of game call, and three on Tampa.
Fans have pointed out that McCauley reffing Leafs games could be a conflict of interest. McCauley’s brother-in-law is disgraced minor-league hockey coach David Frost and Sheldon Keefe testified against Frost when he was charged with 12 counts of sexual exploitation by the Ontario Provincial Police in 2006.
Keefe himself denied that there’s any strain in his relationship with McCauley…
“Officials don’t have any impact on the game and it’s not my focus. Wes has treated me like a true professional the whole time that I’ve been in this league and I’ve been very appreciative of that.”
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