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Wild coach Dean Evason sounds off on referees after penalty in overtime

After the Wild went for a line change in OT, the referees whistled them for too many men on the ice.

NHL: Minnesota Wild at New York Rangers
New York Rangers left wing Artemi Panarin, right, and Minnesota Wild defenseman Jared Spurgeon battle for the puck during the third period Tuesday, Jan. 10, 2023, at Madison Square Garden. The Rangers won 4-3 in a shootout.
Jessica Alcheh / USA Today Sports

NEW YORK CITY — Minnesota Wild coach Dean Evason isn’t asking for preferential treatment. He’s just asking for some consistency.

After the Wild went for a line change in overtime on Tuesday night against the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden, the referees whistled them for too many men on the ice. The replay showed that Freddy Gaudreau was near the bench but not over the boards as Mats Zuccarello made a play on the puck. In a vacuum, it was the right call.

But Evason lost his mind in the immediate aftermath. He screamed at anyone who would listen, sprinkling in a couple of expletives that made the broadcast.

Why was he so upset? Though he agreed that the Wild had too many men on the ice at that moment, Evason noted that the Rangers also had too many men on the ice earlier in the game. The referees swallowed their whistles during that sequence.

“They came over to us and said, ‘We know they had six players on the ice. It didn’t affect the play. We’re not going to call it,’ ” Evason said. “The exact same thing happens to us and we get a call.”

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Dean Evason

Essentially, what Evason is arguing is that if they decided not to call a penalty during a low-leverage situation early in the game, then they should not have called a penalty during a similar but high-leverage situation late in the game. Especially if it had no impact on the play itself.

“That’s frustrating as a coaching staff,” Evason said. “If they’ve called that once already, then get together and say, ‘Listen, you know what? The same thing happened. Let’s call it like we set the standard at the start of the game.’ ”

Instead, the referees did the complete opposite, and the Wild spent most of overtime on the penalty kill. Though some might say the penalty didn’t impact the outcome because the Wild forced a shootout, Evason offered a counterpoint to that way of thinking.

“It does,” Evason said. “We expended energy. We didn’t have a chance to score. We’re good in overtime. We want Kirill Kaprizov on the ice, not to be killing penalties.”

This isn’t the first time Evason has questioned the officiating this season. He has gone out of his way to sound off on referees after certain games.

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He’s been particularly perturbed with the lack of consistency when it comes to a player having his helmet ripped off. In the past month, for example, Kaprizov has had his helmet ripped off with no call on the ice, and has also been called for roughing after inadvertently ripping someone else’s helmet off.

“I hate doing this because I hate (complaining) every night,” Evason said. “I don’t want to yell at referees. I don’t want to be sent (reprimands) that I’m swearing at the referees. I don’t want that. I want the referees to do their job.”

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