Players, coaches: NHL's preseason officiating 'brutal,' 'awful' to get used to

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Players and coaches are voicing their displeasure with the referees this preseason. USATSI

Boston Bruins standout Brad Marchand doesn't often hold back his opinion, and there was no exception of that when the NHL started enforcing faceoffs and slashing more strictly this preseason.

But Marchand isn't alone in his criticism of the league's increasingly stringent approach. The NHL says its crackdown on slashing, or tapping, just like its tighter oversight of faceoffs, is aimed at making the game safer for both players and linesmen, yet there is no shortage of opponents to that strategy. It remains to be seen whether the NHL's stricter enforcement will carry into the regular season, but until then, the complaining is loud and clear.

For your convenience, a collection of complaints -- and some thoughtful commentary -- from Marchand and others around the NHL:

Brad Marchand, forward, Boston Bruins (CSN New England): "The slashing is one thing, but this faceoff rule is an absolute joke. That's how you ruin the game of hockey by putting that in there. They're going to have to do something about that because we can't play all year like that. Basically you have to be a statue. You can't move ... That's just a joke."

Doug Weight, head coach, New York Islanders (New York Post): "Seriously, it was awful. I get it, you have to get it in the league and you have to set a precedent with the sticks and the things like that. It was tough to get guys involved. You've got guys trying to make hockey clubs, and they're are trying to make a statement. They're generally not going to be the guys that are killing all the penalties on the power plays. So it was tough."

Henrik Zetterberg, forward, Detroit Red Wings (MLive.com): ""Brutal. I haven't played, so I can't really put my own experience on it, but what I've heard and what I've seen makes no sense to me why they do it. It's slowing down the game; it's almost mocking the game."

Erik Haula, forward, Vegas Golden Knights (The Sin Bin): "I got kicked out for my feet once, for turning once, for stick once. Everything, literally. It's different because you are used to being able to do that, and it's guys' livelihoods in the faceoff circle. So it's kind of brutal, but I'm sure it'll ease up a little bit in the regular season."

Bruce Boudreau, head coach, Minnesota Wild (The Pioneer Press): "It's very similar to when they inserted the hooking rule. Any little touch above the pads, in the stomach area, they were calling that. Eventually, I think the players got it. Initially, it's very frustrating. That's the only way to get the players not do it."

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