The suspension saga for Calgary Flames defenseman Dennis Wideman still doesn’t have a conclusion with the NHL seeking to have the neutral arbitrator’s decision to reduce the suspension to 10 games vacated. That may be the least important news about the incident, though, as it sounds as though linesman Don Henderson may be lost from the officiating ranks.
Henderson, who was on the receiving end of the hit that led to Wideman’s 20-game suspension, reportedly underwent surgery to repair damage done from the incident. According to the Boston Globe’s Kevin Paul Dupont, Henderson’s surgery was to repair “two ruptured disks in his neck,” and the surgery could have a terrible result for the 47-year-old linesman.
Dupont spoke with one of Henderson’s fellow referees, who said the linesman’s career could be over. Read more
The WHL doesn’t necessarily have a need to increase scoring, but the junior league will be experimenting with a rule change in 2016-17 that could see more pucks hitting the back of the net.
As part of the league’s Annual General Meeting, the WHL announced a few rule changes, including the adoption of hybrid icing and improved video review systems in each of the league’s 22 buildings. The most interesting one, though, is that players will now be permitted to knock pucks into the net with their skates, so long as they’re not in the crease when they do so.
“The WHL also clarified the rule regarding pucks off players’ skates which enter the net,” the league’s release reads. “The clarification states that, unless the puck is in the goal crease, a puck that enters the net off of a player’s skate shall be ruled a goal. This will eliminate the need for a decision by the referee and/or video goal judge as to whether it was a distinct kicking motion or not.” Read more
PITTSBURGH – If the San Jose Sharks are going to come back from the near dead and win this Stanley Cup final – and with this group anything is possible – it is going to need carbon copies of Game 5 in Games 6 and 7.
Can it happen? Sure. Maybe Pittsburgh Penguins goalie Matt Murray’s bubble has burst and the Sharks have finally pierced his armor. Perhaps whoever is refereeing the next two games will have as terrible outings as Dan O’Rourke and Dan O’Halloran had in Game 5 Thursday night. It’s possible Sharks defenseman Brent Burns will continue to commit everything short of homicide and get away with it. (Whether that happens will be largely contingent on whether or not the officials continue their generally inept performance. That is indeed a very likely development.) Maybe Martin Jones bails his team out for 120 more minutes and wins the Conn Smythe Trophy. And finally, the star who flies under the radar on a team chock full of enormous personalities, Logan Couture, just might continue to be the best player on the ice.
SAN JOSE – To the surprise of no one, San Jose Sharks coach Peter DeBoer placed a considerable amount of distance between himself and the musings of his player Logan Couture, who claimed after the Sharks 2-1 overtime loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins in Game 2 of the Stanley Cup final that Penguins superstar Sidney Crosby cheats on faceoffs. “I’m not going to weigh in on that,” DeBoer said in a conference call with a fair amount of terseness in his voice.
DeBoer most definitely did not want to add gas to that inferno at such a crucial time. And even more so, he’s smart enough to know that the last thing he wants the Penguins to think is that Crosby is inside the heads of his players. (It might be too late for that. In Game 2, Joe Thornton responded to some Crosby interference by whacking Crosby’s helmet clean off his head and crosschecking him in the back.) We get why Couture said what he said after Game 2. After all, Crosby had just picked Joel Ward of the Sharks clean on the overtime goal – albeit it on what has been universally described as a fair faceoff win – and Couture wanted to send a message to the on-ice officials for Game 3 and beyond.
I’ve never been a fan of the puck over glass penalty rule. It’s always felt as though the punishment dwarfs the crime, especially when compared to other infractions that either get penalized with an identical two minute minor or not at all.
Screaming case in point. In Pittsburgh-Washington Game 6, the Pens take three consecutive minors for illegal clears, are faced with consecutive 5-on-3s, and surrender the inevitable game-tying goal. Fast forward to overtime when Jason Chimera is cross-checked in the offensive zone, which leads directly to a golden 2-on-1 opportunity for Evgeni Malkin and Eric Fehr.
In the puck-over-glass scenarios, the offenders had zero intention of committing an infraction, and their actions did not nullify an immediate scoring opportunity. By contrast, the Capitals would have been eliminated on what appeared to be a non-call against Chimera if not for a strong play by netminder Braden Holtby.
BROOKLYN – Tampa Bay Lightning coach Jon Cooper was talking about his team’s game Tuesday night and how it’s a great example of why we all love this game so much. And he’s right. But it’s also a pretty good example of why this game infuriates us, too.
We love it because when it’s played like it was in the Lightning’s 5-4 overtime win over the Islanders in Game 3, it embodies everything that makes this game great. It also infuriates us because too many times, the lack of awareness/incompetence of the referees ruins it. What people who think that officials “should let the players decide things” fail to realize is that referees influence the outcome of a game with non-calls, too. And that’s exactly what happened in Game 3.
After watching the final minutes of regulation of Game 6 in the Islanders-Panthers first round series, I was all ready to perch my soap box atop my high horse, which was balancing on my ivory tower.
With New York’s net empty in the dying moments, there were two trips that could have been called – one on Vincent Trocheck, the other Reilly Smith – infractions that either negated Panthers’ chances to seal the game, or at least given the Islanders a penalty. You could argue there was a tad of embellishment on the Smith fall, but it was borderline. Instead of a minor being called in either instance, the refs “let them play” and we all know the result.
Sadly, we cannot ask Pat Quinn what he thinks of the NHL’s implementation of a coach’s challenge for offside calls. As it was with almost any subject from World War II strategy to the neutral zone trap, it would have been very interesting to hear the former coaching great’s perspective on it.
Your trusty correspondent has been covering this game for almost 30 years and they have never seen a coach who had a deeper disdain for officials than Quinn did. And the roots of that go back to May 24, 1980. And if you want to talk about how one of these overturned calls can change a game or a series, consider the fact that not one, but two were not overturned that day had an enormous impact on a series, a career and a legacy.