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“This is kind of bull(bleep); It’s embarrassing for the referee” Nikita Zadorov unloads on officiating double standards he says he faces



That boarding penalty that was assessed to 6-foot-6, 235-pound Colorado Avalanche defenseman Nikita Zadorov last night? Plus, the fighting major he was assessed when he never threw a punch – and took a bit of a sucker-punch himself?

Well, Big Z was and remains a bit incredulous about that. The fighting major, despite not fighting? He can live with that one. But the boarding penalty Zadorov was assessed – no, not OK with that.

“I mean, it’s embarrassing for the referee,” Zadorov told Colorado Hockey Now. “We had a meeting with player safety last year and they were showing us those hits, where you’re already committed to the hit and the player turns last second. You know, what am I gonna do? I’m going full speed to finish him and (he) sees me coming and he turns. It shouldn’t be a penalty. Then I get sucker punched and I get five-minute major.”

If you haven’t seen the full sequence of events that involved Zadorov, Flames forward Austin Czarnik and Flames tough guy Milan Lucic, here it is:

Again, the boarding penalty is what Zadorov was most upset about, and he has a case. Not to get all Avs-tinted-glasses here, but Zadorov is absolutely right: Czarnik saw the hit coming, then turned his back and made himself smaller against a 6-6 guy trying to finish his check. Sure, it was a hard hit, but at last check, that’s still alllowed in hockey. Czarnik is listed at 5-foot-9.

It was just the latest example of Zadorov perhaps being penalized for being too big. He’s gotten these types of penalties before, and knows he has to deal with it. The referees last night were Francis Charron and Ghislain Hebert.

And one more thing: Nikita Zadorov has never been suspended by the NHL for any “dirty” hits.

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“We didn’t even get a penalty, a power play? So, this is kind of bull(bleep) I think,” Zadorov told Colorado Hockey Now. “I don’t have anything against Lucic. I would (have done the) same thing, if one of our players stepped up like that. But I expected more from the referees, in this case, to protect. And if anybody thinks I was scared to fight or something, they’re wrong. You can look at might fight card and see the guys who I have fought before in my career. I expect the referee to look at it, and maybe do better next game. I’m a big guy, I’m a physical player. It’s part of my game. If you give me those penalties, it just hurts our team. It’s brutal. It’s my style of the game and I’m not gonna change. They have to fix that stuff. They cannot just call (stuff) on me because I’m big or too strong. People have to prepare when they go out on the ice against me. Brace yourself, protect yourself all the time.”

Here is Zadorov’s actual career fight card, and, indeed, there aren’t any pipsqueaks for opponents.

Here’s one, against a very tough former Boston Bruin, Adam McQuaid, in 2017:

Here’s how Avs analyst Mark Rycroft saw that boarding penalty on Big Z last night. Yes, we know he may be a bit biased, but Ryker has never been shy about criticizing Avs players before too:

It’ll be interesting to see how Big Z continues to be “treated” by the refs.

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Adrian Dater - Kiss and Larry Bird fan. Writer with @Gambling and @Bookies, Avs Insider with 104.3 The Fan. Denver Post, SI, Bleacher Report alum, author of seven books.

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Chris DeMott

Thank you for writing this. It’s time the NHL figures out what it’s rules are going to be and trains their officials to competently call the games. This reminded me of the SJ vs Vegas situation with Pavelski where the officials initially call the play correctly (in both cases with no call) and then allow a player who coincidentally happened to be injured (or not in Cyrnik’s case) to influence the outcome of a penalty because of a perception. Z is absolutely right that the officials and the league should be embarrassed. They are affecting Nikita Zadorov’s ability to make… Read more »


Z deserves to voice his frustration about it! And you could see with the disdain that the referee treated him with that the guy is just an asshole anyway


Lol, I have a feeling Zads used a much stronger word in that last quote than “(stuff)”… lol


And we’re not even talking about the elbow to Rantanen’s head by Tkachuk… AD any chance the NHL will review that – the on ice officials completely missed it, thankfully Rantanen is okay.

Adrian Dater

I guess not. I think it was a suspension worthy hit


6 foot 6 and hits a little guy from behind who was not turning he was going in for the puck then the chicken doesn’t stand up for himself that’s what we call a B*****


There was just nothing dirty about it. Meanwhile, Lucic is irrelevant as a hockey player and tried his best to do the one thing he can still do. He’s good at it, no doubt. But don’t defend this as a hockey play.

Dan Kelly

He came from a long way a way, with a lot of speed. 5 strides…should have been a 5 min boarding. The fighting major was dumb. And nobody in Calgary’s been saying anything about a statement games. Sheesh, homerest announcers.

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