During game seven of the first-round playoff series between the Florida Panthers and the Boston Bruins, NHL referee Steve Kozari made a few expletives escape into a hot mic by accident.
Don’t you f****** test me, Steve Kozari could be heard yelling over the microphone just before announcing the punishments. Keep your mouth shut after the whistle.
As Brandon Carlo, a forward for the Boston Bruins, skated to the penalty area, a remark was made about him. Carlo replied in a furious manner, but the microphone failed to pick it up.
When Kozari’s remarks were overheard by the arena’s sound system, the crowd burst into boos because many spectators thought Bennett was the aggressor rather than Carlo.
The event generated a lot of discussion on social media, with both supporters and critics chiming in on Steve Kozari’s use of language.
Some spectators jumped to Kozari’s defence, saying that he was only attempting to assert his dominance on the ice and stop any further misconduct. Others, however, were less understanding, chastising Kozari for his lack of professionalism and insisting that his remarks had no business being made at a competitive sporting event.
Despite the controversy, the game continued, and the Panthers scored on the ensuing power play by taking advantage of matching penalties. A few minutes later, defenseman Brandon Montour beat goalie Jeremy Swayman with a stunning backhand goal to give the Panthers a 1-0 lead and whip up the home fans. At the conclusion of the first period, the goal would be the only one still standing.
Although Steve Kozari’s outburst may have temporarily upset both fans and officials, it ultimately had little impact on the game’s outcome.
The incident still serves as a reminder of the need of professionalism and civility in the NHL and sheds light on the difficulties referees have in keeping control of crucial playoff games.