Most people who officiate a sport for a living are only able to become a household name for all of the wrong reasons, but there are certainly a few exceptions to that rule.
That includes Wes McCauley, the referee who made his NHL debut in 2003 and has been working full-time in the league since 2005 while establishing himself as one of the more consistently solid (and easily the most entertaining) officials the sport has to offer.
However, there’s one fanbase that hasn’t exactly embraced McCauley with open arms, as the Maple Leafs have gone winless in the nine Stanley Cup Playoff games they’ve played where the ref was on the ice.
That includes two losses Toronto has racked up over the course of the 2023 postseason where they’ve found themselves on the brink of elimination at the hands of the Florida Panthers, who jumped out to a 3-0 lead in their second-round series with a 3-2 win in overtime on Sunday.
It’s worth noting the Maple Leafs were 5-0-1 in regular season games featuring McCauley over the course of the 2022-23 campaign.
However, plenty of Toronto supporters have convinced themselves he has a vendetta against the team thanks to a conspiracy theory involving disgraced OHL coach David Frost, who was charged and acquitted of sexual assault charges in a trial where many people believe current Maple Leafs head coach Sheldon Keefe testified on behalf of the prosecution.
McCauley is married to Frost’s sister, which has raised concerns his involvement in Maple Leafs games could be a potential conflict of interest (Keefe recently addressed the topic while speaking with the media during a huddle where he asserted “Wes has treated me like a true professional the whole time I’ve been in this league).
Sheldon Keefe on his relationship with referee Wes McCauley. pic.twitter.com/2ftCcOeaxn
— Sportsnet (@Sportsnet) May 7, 2023
According to The Toronto Star, some Maple Leafs fans reportedly leaped over the line after McCauley was assigned to officiate the first game of their first-round showdown against the Lightning, as the outlet said a league source confirmed there were “threats made against McCauley’s family that night” after their home addresses were shared online.
It should go without saying that doxxing a ref’s family out of anger is not something anyone should do, but I guess some people still need a reminder.