It's been a fraught postseason for officiating during the Stanley Cup Playoffs as NHL referees have been accused of a series of blunders and non-calls that have influenced the outcomes of critical games and series.
But after Montreal's Game 4 loss to the Las Vegas Golden Knights on Monday, many Habs fans are taking it to a different level: They are calling for a referee to be fired.
"In recent years, we have already noticed Chris Lee for all the wrong reasons in the hockey world. Whether it's for goals, or questionable penalties," states a Change.org petition, which has gathered over 26,000 signatures as of the time of writing.
"However, in the last two games, opposing the Montreal Canadiens and the Vegas Golden Knights, we have seen time and time again the inability of Chris Lee to do his job as a referee in the NHL. Whether it's for a number of dubious decisions, or for his ill-concealed favouritism, we, as NHL fans, demand the immediate dismissal of Chris Lee."
MTL Blog has reached out to the NHL Officials Association for comment on this story. This article will be updated when we receive a response.
Though the petition might not cost the veteran referee his job, Lee wasn't officiating Game 5, which the Canadiens went on to win, so there's that.
Many hockey pundits criticized Lee for his performance in Game 4 after not calling a roughing penalty on Brayden McNabb's punch to Nick Suzuki's face at the end of the second period, though he seemed to have a good view of the incident.
And then in the third, Tomáš Nosek's blatant hit on Shea Weber from behind, a potentially dangerous play, did not result in a penalty.
Though they've been teammates for nearly a decade, Montreal Canadiens forward Brendan Gallagher admitted that even he didn't notice how much Carey Price was struggling and wished he "could've done a little bit more for him."
"There are a lot of emotions [...] I've known him for 10 plus years and any time I've been going through something he's been there to help me and I just kinda wish that I was able to do the same thing for him," Gallagher said at a press conference on Thursday.
Brendan Gallagher s'adresse aux médias en direct du Centre Bell.
Brendan Gallagher is addressing the media live fr… https://t.co/kNkYAGutm2
Price made the decision to enter the NHL's Player Assistance Program on Thursday, much to the surprise of the Habs organization and hockey fans around the world.
Gallagher commended Price and said that it was "unfair" for him to constantly carry around the weight of expectation.
"It's just such a courageous decision that he made."
"You need to be there for him and he's got a lot of pressure on him outside of hockey, as well [...] We need to be there for him and try to do a better job of reaching out and talking to him."
Gallagher said he hopes Price's decision will bring awareness to unspoken mental health issues and inspire both NHL players and fans to get the help they need.
"I hope Pricey being the role model that he is, this will lead to a lot of people getting help, as well."
If you or anyone you know is struggling with depression or mental health concerns, please reach out to a trusted peer, parent or health care professional. You can also contact a helpline which is available 24 hours a day to talk. Or click here, for additional resources.
If you need immediate assistance please call 9-1-1 or go to your nearest hospital. Support is available.
At a press conference on Thursday morning, Montreal Canadiens General Manager Marc Bergevin was in tears as he tried to explain what Carey Price meant to him as a person.
Price has taken a leave of absence from the team to join the NHL's Player Assistance Program. In a statement following the announcement, his wife Angela Price said she hopes her family can demonstrate "the importance of putting your mental health first."
After he was asked the question by a journalist, Bergevin paused for a long time to gather his thoughts and said that "it's hard" to see a friend and colleague of nine years struggling.
Bergevin made it clear that Price and his family deserve to go through this in private.
Price is the second Habs player to take a leave in as many years, following his teammate Jonathan Drouin.
Bergevin said that Price would be absent for "30 days or more."
"I think this should make us realize that all players are human beings," the general manager said.
"He will get all our support and we hope to have him back soon."
It's been almost a week since the Carolina Hurricanes tendered an offer sheet to Montreal Canadiens centre Jesperi Kotkaniemi and there's a good chance that the Habs could lose their star player over a petty beef that goes back two years.
But how did we get here and why is this happening?
We've tendered an Offer Sheet to Jesperi Kotkaniemi 👀 https://t.co/4Mmw3n4DVr
This petty move can be traced back to July 1, 2019, when Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin tendered an offer sheet to Carolina's star centre, Sebastian Aho.
At the time, Bergevin severely underestimated his counterparts in Carolina, Tom Dundon and Don Waddell. They promptly matched Aho's offer sheet — which is now looking like it's a big discount for a player of his talents.
Bergevin also seemingly underestimated his colleague's capacity for revenge. On August 28, 2021, the Hurricanes pulled out a $6,100,015 offer sheet for the Canadiens star player, with a $20 signing bonus.