Brutally blown calls make it clear: it’s time to expand NHL video replay

Adam Proteau
NHL referees Mike Leggo and Ian Walsh, and linesman Greg Devorski (Eliot J. Schechter/NHLI via Getty Images)

The phrase “the straw that broke the camel’s back” is tossed around too often, but when it comes to expanded video review in the NHL, the goalie interference call assessed to Detroit’s Luke Glendening Wednesday night certainly qualifies. Thankfully, the spectacular botch job didn’t decide the game’s outcome, but the fact a call this bad could be agreed on between two referees should be deeply disconcerting to league officials and every team in the league.

The reality is the game’s speed makes it tougher than ever to assess the action, and when one of the referees goes down to injury as can occur, it makes expanded replay even more vital. And imagine what would happen if a similarly awful penalty/rescinded goal materialized in the final game of the regular season and the result of that game meant the difference between a team making or missing the playoffs. Imagine if a call like that went down during the playoffs – say, in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup final – and there were no option for the officials to skate over to the penalty box area, check a video monitor for a few brief minutes and make sure they got the call right. Fans and media of the team on the wrong end of such a predicament would go apoplectic, and rightfully so; any league unwilling to utilize technology readily available to assure the integrity of its game is a league painfully out of touch with what fans demand in return for their investments of time, money and emotion.

If it ever got to that point, the NHL would need to hold an IPO to raise its stock to laughing status. Read more

Worst NHL penalty of the season? Oh yeah. Definitely.

Luke Glendening and Karl Alzner (Getty Images)

Each NHL season has its share of botched calls from referees. We know going in that, as mere mortals, they’re bound to make errors trying to make sense of a lightning-fast game. However, some blown calls are so egregious, they stand out for years afterward. And one of those calls went down Wednesday night during the game between the Washington Capitals and Detroit Red Wings. As a matter of fact, this might not have been one of the worst penalty calls of the year. It might be the worst in NHL history.

It was early in the first period in Washington when Capitals goalie Braden Holtby left his crease and went behind the net. As he tried to get back into position, Holtby tripped over his own skates – and the Red Wings pounced immediately, with Drew Miller grabbing the puck and firing it into the Caps’ net.

However – and inexplicably – the officiating duo of Mike Leggo and Ghislain Hebert decided the goal would not count and that Wings center Luke Glendening deserved a goalie interference penalty. As you can see, he deserved nothing of the sort: Read more

NHL on board with on-ice officials with five-year deal

Ken Campbell
Dan O'Halloran (Photo by Claus Andersen/Getty Images)

The NHL’s track record with negotiating contracts with its players without locking them out over the past decade has been horrendous. Thankfully, that hasn’t been the case with its on-ice officials. There hasn’t been a work stoppage with referees and linesemen since Doughnut-gate with Don Koharski in 1988 and there will not be one this season.

When the league opens the season with four games tonight, it will do so with labor harmony with its on-ice officials. Not that there was ever any doubt. For the past couple of months the league has been negotiating with its officials for a new deal and the talks were cordial and in good faith on both sides. And with the league and NHL Officials’ Association on the verge of signing a five-year deal, according to a source with knowledge of the situation, it is on the cusp of being official.

“It’s within a dot,” said a source with knowledge of the negotiations. “There might be one small thing here or there, but it’s really details. The basis for a deal has been settled and they’re very, very close. I think both sides want to make sure all the details are done before they make anything public.”

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Will NHL’s new faceoff configuration lead to more goals, fewer fights?

Ken Campbell
NHL faceoff.  (Photo by Scott Levy/NHLI via Getty Images)

Monday was a busy day in the hockey world. With only two sleeps left until the start of the regular season, the Ryan Johansen signing and a couple of teams cutting loose their dancing bears, there was a lot of grist for the mill.

So it’s understandable that the league’s announcement that it would increase the distance between the hash marks for the offensive/defensive zone faceoff circles would fly under the radar a little bit. It’s not one of those sexy news items that allow people to jump to instant conclusions, such as declaring the enforcer in the NHL obsolete after seeing teams such as the Toronto Maple Leafs and Philadelphia Flyers go into the season with one on their rosters. Nice thought, but these guys seem to be the NHL’s version of the cockroach and I, for one, remain skeptical that we’ve seen the last of them. Read more

Referee focus more on goalie interference than goals in 2014-15

Ryan Kennedy
Ben Bishop. (Photo by Scott Audette/NHLI via Getty Images)

Although a new season brings challenges for everyone in the NHL, perhaps no clan will be tasked with a bigger mental hill to climb than the referees.

“Historically, our focus has been on the crease,” said director of officiating Stephen Walkom. “This season our guys will look at the activity happening around the blue paint and the secondary focus will be on the puck.”

Simply put, determining if the puck crossed the goal line is no longer that important for refs. There are cameras – very good cameras – that are better equipped to take care of that task. Instead, the officials want to make sure the goalies are allowed to do their jobs in the crease, and that’s just fine for the men behind the masks. Read more

Legendary Hall of Fame referee Frank Udvari, who officiated game that led to Richard Riot, passes away at age 90

Frank Udvari

NHL referees and linesmen aren’t always remembered or recognized. But then again, some of them are fan favorites who hold a big place in the game’s history.

Ray “Scampy” Scapinello, was a small, quick linesman who had the longest career of any official. Paul Stewart, the boisterous American, was known for his old-school attitude, being blunt and to the point. He shares some his his fascinating stories today. Kerry Fraser is as much remembered for his perfectly placed hair as he is reviled for the missed high stick call on Wayne Gretzky (by Toronto fans anyway). And there are many others who fans have some sort of attachment to or memory of, for better or worse.

Frank Udvari was an NHL referee in the 1950s and ’60s who was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1973. According to Josh Brown of the Waterloo Region Record, Udvari passed away at the age of 90 on Thursday.

udvari

Udvari is perhaps best known for being the referee in charge of the infamous game that eventually led to the Richard Riots in Montreal. On March 13, 1955, the Montreal Canadiens played the rival Boston Bruins on the road. During play, Bruins defenseman Hal Laycoe caught Richard with a high-stick by the eye and Udvari put his arm in the air to call a penalty.

But Richard was ready to take the situation into his own hands. Read more

Don’t expect to see video review for goalie intereference anytime soon

Goalie interference

NEW YORK – Hockey fans looking for the NHL to take advantage of video technology to prevent the Dwight King-type goals from Game 2 of the Stanley Cup final from exploding into controversy will almost certainly be disappointed. With the NHL’s competition committee meeting Monday and the league’s GMs Wednesday, there appears to be little appetite for using video review to resolve issues involving goaltender interference.

That’s because the power brokers in the NHL have come to the conclusion that even with video evidence, there is no guarantee of certainty. Of course there isn’t. But isn’t there a better chance you’re going to get a call right if you have the benefit of watching it on super slow-motion several times? And even if there’s disagreement among those watching replays, isn’t that superior to having just one look at it in real time? Read more

Henrik Lundqvist must step up and be the best player in the final

Lundqvist

EN ROUTE TO NEW YORK – A couple of things are becoming painfully clear at this point in the Stanley Cup final. One of them is that referee Dan O’Halloran needs to have his eyes examined, because he either can’t see an obvious case of goaltender interference that is right there in front of him or he can’t make out the print that deals with Rule 69.1 in the NHL rulebook

Another is that the New York Rangers are going to have to begin to show some backbone if they’re going to even have a chance of getting back into this series. Any team that blows three two-goal leads over the course of two games has no business blaming a referee for its ills. The non-call on the Dwight King goal that narrowed the gap to 4-3 in the third period of Game 2 was a terrible mistake by the officiating staff, but teams that are serious about winning Stanley Cups are able to regroup quickly enough to put those setbacks behind them and continue with the task at hand. Read more