"Refs shouldn't decide hockey games - it should be up to the players."
This philosophy from certain traditionalists is part of the reason why hockey is failing to bring in a wide American audience. Between the regular season and the post season, rules change. When overtime commences in the playoffs -- rules are thrown out the door. It's an unwritten rule that no one who commits an infraction of the NHL rulebook shall be called once overtime starts, and it's a mockery of enforcement of the rules every other time during the season.
Hockey's feature spectacle is an opportunity to bring in new fans, and when they watch the game the rules change from period to period. I finished watching the first overtime of last nights game and how many penalties on both teams were not called? Tripping ran rampant early on, then hooking, high sticking, roughing and interference with a little boarding on the side...
"But it's always been like this," is not a valid reason to tell me the lack-of-calls is no big deal. The rules are there for a reason and referees are employed for a reason. If a guy commits an infraction - call it. It's not the refs fault if the other team scores - it's the fault of the player who committed the foul and gave the opposition a Power Play
How do you teach new fans the rules if you don't enforce the rules the same way all season and playoffs long? The only rules that people have to understand are the strangest rules of all -- icing and offsides --and if THIS is supposed to bring people into the sport, I've got some real nice property I'd like to sell you.
It's one thing to blow a call,. it's another thing to miss a call, but it is total idiocy for the league not to call anything whatsoever unless players almost get killed on ice.
This would be a joke in any other league - but for some reason, there are fans that think this is how Hockey is supposed to be played. Unless they make it an official rule to not call penalties in the playoff overtimes, they god damned well better do it.