Oilers players echo coach's concerns

Oilers goaltenders Nikolai Khabibulin (left) and Devan Dubnyk take a break during practice at...

Oilers goaltenders Nikolai Khabibulin (left) and Devan Dubnyk take a break during practice at Rexall Place in Edmonton, Alta., April 4, 2012. (DAVID BLOOM/QMI Agency)

DEREK VAN DIEST, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 12:14 AM ET

EDMONTON - Tom Renney said what a lot of people were thinking Monday after a defeat in Los Angeles.

Unfortunately for the Edmonton Oilers head coach, it ended up costing him $10,000.

Two days later, Renney did not want to discuss the situation any further, but his players were more than willing to come to their coach’s defence.

“He’s an emotional guy, but I think $10,000 was a little harsh for what he said,” said Oilers captain Shawn Horcoff. “In all respect, I think I have to agree with him. We had some tough calls go our way, but they’re a team fighting for the playoffs, fighting for home ice and I just hope that when we’re in that situation, calls go our way.”

Renney provoked the ire of the NHL by wondering aloud whether the officials in the contest were favouring the Kings because it was better for the league to have them in the playoffs.

There was a lot let go in the game and after the contest, Renney’s frustration boiled over when asked about his team’s inability to get a call.

“I don’t know, I’m not sure. Maybe you need Hollywood in the playoffs, I’m not sure,” he said at the time.

The NHL did not take kindly to the implication that its officials were favouring one team over another, and fined Renney $10,000 on Tuesday. The money will go to the NHL foundation.

“It didn’t seem that harsh. He said something that a lot of people were thinking, to be honest,” said Oilers winger Ryan Jones. “It’s been a tough little stretch as far as getting penalties and I don’t know why that is, whether we’re not working hard to get them or what the situation is.

“We’ve only had, it seems like, one power play a game for the last five or six games and that’s tough, when you have a power play like ours which is a real threat and can go out there and score.”

Renney was upset at a number of non-calls that went against his team, while at the same time, having a couple of questionable infractions go against them.

Most notably was a slash to the top of Ryan Nugent-Hopkins head that went undetected and a tripping penalty on Colten Teubert made by the trailing official, which the referee a few feet away from the play seem to deem legal.

“It was a tough situation, where we didn’t feel like we got as many power plays as they did,” said Oilers centre Sam Gagner. “But, it’s not always going to go your way. There are going to be nights were it does and others where it doesn’t. The way the game of hockey goes, you just have to try and play through it and let the coaching staff get on the refs and let them know if they’re doing things wrong. As a player, if you do it too much, you’re going to have a target on your back. You just have to play through it and not let things bother you if they don’t go your way.”

For some time now, the Oilers have felt they’ve been on the wrong end of refereeing decisions, in part based on their youth and their current position in the standings.

Some feel there seems to be an unwritten rule in the game where younger players don’t get the benefit of the doubt that veterans do when it comes to officiating.

Complaining about it only seems to compound the problem.

“That’s probably true a little bit to an extent, but it’s not just that game, it’s been that way for probably 50 years,” Horcoff said. “That’s probably how it should be. Guys that have been around for a long time are probably entitled to more calls, but having said that, you still have to protect the future of the game. I can see letting some calls go, but you have to protect them, you have to be careful of guys taking liberties on them and it’s up to the refs to really settle that down out there.”

derek.vandiest@sunmedia.ca

twitter.com/SUNdvandiest


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