Referee Wes McCauley assigned to pivotal Leafs' Game 3 tonight

May 7 2023, 4:30 pm

If the NHL was interested in avoiding refereeing controversies during this year’s Stanley Cup playoffs that involve the Toronto Maple Leafs, well, they’re not exactly doing a very good job of it.

For tonight’s Game 3 against the Florida Panthers, Toronto has been assigned the referee tandem of Wes McCauley and Dan O’Rourke, which isn’t exactly the most popular call among the Blue and White faithful.

As pointed out by Scouting the Refs, Toronto is 0-8 in playoff games where McCauley is on the officiating crew (though they did go 5-0-1 with McCauley working games this past regular season).

In Toronto’s most recent contest under McCauley — a 7-3 Game 1 loss to the Lightning in the first round of the playofs,  Tampa Bay was awarded eight power play opportunities in the contest to Toronto’s four, scoring four separate times with the man advantage.

For Leafs coach Sheldon Keefe, the connection goes back decades — and it’s not exactly the most rosy one.

Keefe is a former client of disgraced hockey agent and junior hockey coach David Frost. He was a witness against him in a 2008 trial for alleged abuse that occurred during Keefe’s junior career in three separate Ontario leagues. (Frost was acquitted of the charges.)

Meanwhile, Frost, who now goes by the name Jim McCauley, is a brother-in-law of Wes McCauley’s, as the referee is married to Frost’s sister.

Back in December 2022, Keefe was fined $25,000 for a rant at McCauley, appearing to yell, “Wake the f*ck up, Wes” during a Leafs’ game against the St. Louis Blues.

But asked today about their longstanding history, Keefe wasn’t exactly ready to add any extra fuel to the fire.

“Officials don’t have any impact on the game and it’s not my focus. Wes has treated me like a true professional the whole time that I’ve been in this league and I’ve been very appreciative of that,” Keefe said today when asked about his history with McCauley.

Puck drop for tonight’s game is set for 6:30 pm ET, with the game broadcast on both CBC and Sportsnet.

Adam LaskarisAdam Laskaris

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