The National Hockey League's officiating crew for Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final between the Montreal Canadiens and Tampa Bay Lightning has been unveiled and I must admit I am a little surprised to see who the league will be going with here.
The two referees selected for Game 1 of the Final will be Dan O'Rourke and Francis Charron and it is the first of the two that causes me to raise an eyebrow. O'Rourke was at the center of the officiating debacle during the semifinal contested between the Canadiens and the Las Vegas Golden Knights, most notably a Game 3 in that series that drew widespread criticism from fans and pundits alike. It was referee Chris Lee that received the overwhelming majority of the criticism in that series and no doubt fans of the Canadiens will be relieved to see that Lee appears to have been left on the sidelines for this Final, however O'Rourke officiated both Game 3 and Game 4 alongside the aforementioned Lee and should shoulder just as much of the blame for that entire fiasco.
Fans of the Las Vegas Golden Knights and Golden Knights forward William Carrier will certainly have no trouble remembering O'Rourke's questionable performance in that series given that he notably managed to miss Carrier being driven head first into the boards while staring directly at the play. For whatever reason through Lee was given the lion's share of the blame.
In spite of what you would have to consider an underperformance in the semifinal, it would appear as though O'Rourke has managed to fail upwards. I will cut the NHL a little bit of slack here as there were rumblings that the Covid Protocols played a role in the NHL's inability to make any kind of changes to their officiating crews during the semifinal, and it may be that those same protocols have once again played a role in limiting the league's options.
Joining the two officials will be linesmen Michel Cormier and Kiel Murchison. Cormier is a veteran over over 1200 combined games in the regular season and playoffs while Murchison on the other hand has about half that many games under his belt.