Referee Kelly Sutherland Benched for Stanley Cup Final After Controversial Call

Sam Jones
June 8, 2024  (11:23)

Referee Kelly Sutherland Benched for Stanley Cup Final After Controversial Call
Photo credit: Reddit.com

For the first time in nearly a decade, veteran NHL referee Kelly Sutherland will not officiate in the Stanley Cup Final.

The decision follows a contentious incident in the Conference Final, which has sparked widespread debate over referee accountability in professional hockey.
This development was confirmed by former NHL goalie and current analyst Marty Biron, who linked the decision directly to a controversial call—or lack thereof—during a critical playoff game.
Kelly Sutherland and Eric Furlatt were the refs for the game when Trouba elbowed Rodrigues. They did not advance to the SC final despite being great veteran refs. Probably didn't have a good post game chat when the DOPS ended up giving Trouba a fine and only a minor was called.

During the heated series between the New York Rangers and Florida Panthers, Rangers' defenseman Jacob Trouba was involved in a notable incident where he delivered a flying elbow to the head of Panthers' forward Evan Rodrigues.

Despite the severity of the hit, which many viewed as flagrant and dangerous, Trouba received only a minor two-minute penalty at the time. The play led to significant after-the-fact actions, with the NHL's Department of Player Safety later imposing a fine on Trouba, signaling that the on-ice punishment may have been insufficient.

Kelly Sutherland and his officiating partner, Eric Furlatt, both seasoned referees with multiple Stanley Cup Final appearances, faced criticism not just from fans and players, but evidently from within the league itself. This scenario underlines ongoing discussions about the level of oversight and repercussions referees face following significant oversight in game-critical situations.

The incident has reignited conversations around the transparency and accountability of NHL officials. Earlier this season, Boston Bruins General Manager Don Sweeney openly called for referees to be more accessible for questions following games, a sentiment that has been echoed by other figures within the league.

As the off-season approaches and the Stanley Cup Final looms, the focus on referees will likely intensify, especially given the strategic importance of officiating in games involving teams like the Edmonton Oilers, known for their potent special teams. The NHL may be prompted to reevaluate its officiating standards and the processes by which game officials are held accountable.

This situation not only affects those directly involved but also casts a broader light on the need for ongoing improvements in how sports leagues manage and mitigate human error in officiating to preserve the integrity of the game.