Friday Insider: Do refs really hate Penguins?

[caption id="attachment_8708" align="aligncenter" width="645"]Pittsburgh Penguins v Toronto Maple Leafs Mike Johnston and the Penguins get an explanation from referee Dan O'Halloran Nov. 14 in Toronto. -- GETTY[/caption]


Weekly roundup of a lot of randomness from a lot of time around our city's teams …

fridayinsider• The NHL's referees, in general, hate the Penguins.

I don't think that, you might not think that, and there might not be a shred of truth behind the statement. But perception is reality. And that perception, be very sure, is the one held inside Consol Energy Center's home locker room.

What's more, the perception is held in large part because Steve Downie, whom the refs really hate, plays in Pittsburgh.

I won't name names here, but suffice it to say that this perception is pretty much universally held. And it goes like this: The refs bitterly resent having to track Downie's every move on the ice, including behind the play, as well as the sillier antics such as that bizarre unsportsmanlike minor a couple of weeks ago for flat-out refusing to leave the inside of the faceoff circle. It drives them batty. And because of that, they have a tough time listening to any lip from the Penguins' players or bench. Sometimes -- and this is substantiated by multiple sources -- the refs won't even come to the bench when the coaches ask, a fairly common courtesy.

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