NHL refereeing under the microscope in the Stanley Cup Final


Jon Cooper backtracked and moved a possible missed call to the rearview mirror with the expertise of a coach who’s been here before. His counterpart Jared Bednar, on the verge of winning his first NHL championship, sought to settle the matter once and for all and move on.

Yet the Stanley Cup Final roars to a conclusion full of uncertainty over the refereeing, which is in the spotlight for all the wrong reasons after Nazem Kadri’s overtime goal gave the Colorado Avalanche a 3-1 lead in the best-of-seven series.

The goal came with what Cooper and his Tampa Bay Lightning thought was too many men on the ice. No penalty was called, and now the Avalanche are one win away from eliminating back-to-back defending champions.

“Will a call make the difference in the series? No,” Hall of Fame goaltender Grant Fuhr said in a phone interview. “Colorado was the better team in overtime, there’s no question about it. Do you hope it doesn’t end on a piece like this? Yeah. You hope it’s something nice and clean and simple because instead of talking about a good hockey game, everyone’s talking about the game.”

The play in question involved Kadri – playing his first game of the final after injuring his right thumb – jumping onto the ice for an early line change, with teammate Nathan MacKinnon still about 40ft off the bench. When Kadri scored, MacKinnon still had one skate on the ice, and the player joining isn’t even supposed to touch the puck in this situation.

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“Players, we’re looking for every inch to get an edge and try to jump into the game when you know your change is coming,” Lightning defenseman Ryan McDonagh said Thursday. “It’s impossible to say what the right call is there. It’s so quick, and it happens probably a million times more per game than we think.”

There is some wiggle room for officials to judge too many men on the ice, and Tampa Bay technically had seven, although the players switching for each other were much closer to the home bench.

“You change on the fly, everything happens,” Bednar said. “I’m 7-6 at one point, so that’s what it is. This is how the game is played. I don’t see it as a pause or a non-pause. In fact, I see it as nothing.

In a statement sent to The The Switzerland Times after Colorado’s 3-2 win, the league’s hockey operations department called it a judgment call.

“In discussing the winning goal, each of the four officials indicated that they did not see too many men on the ice on play,” the statement read. “This call is not subject to video review by either Hockey Ops or on-ice officials.”

Should it be?

The NHL expanded video review in 2015 to coach challenges for offside and goalie interference. The 2019 playoff incidents have led to more situations that coaches and officials can take a closer look at to get it right, though that’s limited to potential stoppages like a hand pass or the puck hitting the protective net above the glass.

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But in an age when video reviews are holding games back in every sport and leagues are scrambling to squeeze those extra minutes of valuable time, the NHL has little appetite for replaying everything.

GMs will no doubt discuss this at the draft in Montreal next month, and perhaps the much debated so-called “eye in the sky” third referee concept will pick up steam. magnitude. This could answer at least the more obvious missed calls that might be better seen and picked up from the top of an arena than in the middle of all the on-ice action.

“They have the hardest job in sports,” Fuhr said of NHL officials. “The game has gotten bigger, faster and they have to keep up and there will be missed calls along the way. It’s just hockey.

Highly controversial calls have long been a part of hockey, and many New York Islanders fans were quick to point out that the Lightning appeared to have too many men on the ice for the only goal in Game 7 of the Finals. the Eastern Conference last year. Philadelphia Flyers fans are still reminiscing about the ‘Leon Stickle Game’ when the linesman of the same name missed an obvious offside on an Islanders goal in the decisive 1980 game in their first of four Cup championships consecutive Stanleys.

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Hall of Famer Bryan Trottier, a star of that Islanders dynasty who won his seventh Cup title as an Avalanche assistant in 2001 and coaches the new 3ICE 3-on-3 league with Fuhr , said winning is about dealing with “the lucky bounce, the fortuitous bounce, the ref call: the something that can happen that’s out of your control and kind of goes against you.

“These things, they can go for you or against you,” Trottier said. “You have to take advantage of them when they attack you, and you just have to move on when they go against you.”

Another judgment call earlier in Game 4 allowed a Lightning goal to count after the puck shot on Avalanche goaltender Darcy Kuemper caused his mask to fall off, with officials deciding not to. stop play because the rules state that he should continue if a scoring chance is in progress.

Before flying to Denver for Game 5 on Friday with his team trailing 3-1, Cooper tried to move on. Just over 12 hours after being nearly speechless, he called hockey an “inexact science” and sought to distance himself – somehow – from the end of Game 4.

“The great thing about today is that it’s not yesterday,” Cooper said. “There’s nothing we can do to go back. They missed it. It’s unfortunate, but it’s water under the bridge now. Let’s get ready.


Follow TSWT Hockey writer Stephen Whyno on Twitter at https://twitter.com/SWhyno


More TSWT NHL: https://apnews.com/hub/NHL and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports


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