Friday, February 21, 2014

How Brad Meier got screwed (not how he screwed the Russians)

By now most have heard about how the US Men's Olympic Hockey has advanced to play Canada in the Semi-Finals today (21-FEB-14) at 12:00 EST.

Team USA has played well, but not without controversy during the match with Russia on 15-FEB-14, where the USA won in overtime after a goal (box score) which was disallowed by American NHL referee Brad Meier.

To be clear I am not here to dispute the call. By all accounts it was correct for the international game. I am also not here to talk about the fanaticism of the Russian fans united to "make soap" out of Meier.

My beef is actually with the supervisor of officials for the International Ice Hockey Federation, Konstantin Komissarov. Now you say, that's odd as Komissarov was front and center in defending the referees for making the correct call, and has been vocal about it since the event occurred. My issue is why Meier was even assigned in the first place.

Meier was born in the US (Ohio) and was shortly moved to Canada where he has spent his life, however has never renounced his US citizenship and holds passports for both countries, making him both a Canadian and US citizen. From this my question becomes why oh why was a US citizen assigned to a US match!?!?!

There were several other referees available to do this (list of 2014 officials here) so why even have a whiff of impropriety‎? Yes Meier is supremely qualified and did a nice job in the match and no I don't think he was tainted in any way, but why even risk it?

Now look what we have ... protests be damned as they are of no consequence ... we have a good referee that made the correct call who will be excluded from any future games this Olympics IMHO. Now functionally that may have been the case anyway as if either the US or Canada go through he would be excluded due to seeing them already or his citizenship, respectively. Then again, can he "turncoat" to US citizenship if Canada goes through?

My point being that I think it was actually pretty silly to assign a US Citizen to a USA match, even if that citizenship is shared with another country. It has put a fog on the USA win over Russia, will certainly have a similar effect if they medal, and most importantly to me, has an excellent referee out of the ruining at a chance to referee a medal match.


  1. Saw this happen real time and new in an instant this would have the Russian Federation crying foul over the goal being taken off the board. What I wish would have happened it to inform the spectators and viewers of why the call had to be made and that this was following the written rules set by the Olympic body and not a judgement call made by Mr. Meier. From the countless articles I read and reports seen on TV, no one seemed to care the the Olympic's governing body made the rule not the referee. Had he awarded the goal then the game would become protestable as the rules clearly state the referee may not award a goal if the net has be moved. It doesn't help either that the call went against the host nation. There was also issue taken prior the the drop of the puck in the gold medal match because of the officials chosen. Mr. Meier did get the nod as well as two other Canadians which has Sweeden calling foul before they stepped foot on to the ice. While I really ahte the fact of having that "conflict of interest" linger over officials, at this stage I would hope it be a null point. Canada and USA are the hockey giants and becasue of this have the most qualified referees coming out of the programs. It would be a disservice to the game to pick lesser qualified officials for the goal medal match simply becasue of where the most qualified officals reside.

    1. Great comment Steve.

      Unfortunately your last point I find is rarely the reality. While I would like to exist in a meritocracy, I find it more the case we live in a political world.

      Mr. Meier was the right referee for the job, even with the dual citizenship. We agree, he made the right call, in fact the only call that was necessary per the international rules. Sadly the vast majority of folks will not see past the home team that was playing and the nationality of the referee.

      From here the question becomes, do you use the best person, or the one less likely to cause an issue to the masses?

      My pick is (a) as I believe is yours. Unfortunately the choice of most governing bodies is (b) I find.

      Great comment as always,

  2. Maybe this Olympics will be the one to start a trend showing that residence should not in any way affect competence of an official

    1. They should have started with figure skating, not ice hockey. =0