It has been a long time — nearly 15 years, in fact — since Florida Panthers coach Paul Maurice coached his last game behind the bench of the Toronto Maple Leafs.
But after a 5-4 overtime loss to the Leafs on Tuesday night, Maurice had plenty to say about the state of officiating coming at his former coaching home at Scotiabank Arena.
Namely, Maurice had opinions on a hit from Panthers defenceman Radko Gudas, who was called for a charge in the second period on Leafs forward Pierre Engvall.
Gudas gets low and sticks the hip out on Engvall
Aston-Reese has something to say about it pic.twitter.com/oDIUVBLyeh
— Omar (@TicTacTOmar) January 18, 2023
“No problem with the guy going to the net at all. That is hockey. I don’t know what the hell those guys [the refs] are doing tonight, but it wasn’t Florida Panther-friendly,” Maurice told reporters after the game. “It is hard to describe the call. Usually, they have enough there to argue and come over to say, ‘Hey, the stick got up.’ Radko Gudas threw as clean of a hit as you can level — stick on stick, body on body. It is not a charge. They are both going in the same direction.”
Auston Matthews scored for Toronto on the ensuing power play, making the score 4-3 Florida as the Leafs began their eventual comeback.
William Nylander scored both the game-tying and game-winning goals for Toronto, his 23rd and 24th markers of the season.
Florida picked up 18 penalty minutes on the night via nine minor penalties, while the Leafs were awarded 12 via six minors.
“There will always be penalties in a game that you earn. There will be a bunch you don’t like at all. I thought we had an inordinate share of those,” Maurice added.
Maurice isn’t the first high-profile NHL coach to complain about referees in Toronto this season, with Calgary’s Darryl Sutter going on record earlier this season to suggest a bias towards the Leafs.
It was the first of four meetings of the season for the Leafs and Panthers, with the teams next scheduled to face off on March 23 in Florida.