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RALEIGH, N.C. — What can the NHL do to make sure that referees are not continually making the wrong call over and over again?
Put them in the penalty box, said Rod Brind’Amour. All of them. The linesmen too. And don’t let them out until they get the calls right.
Before you get the wrong idea, the Carolina Hurricanes head coach does not actually want to penalize on-ice officials for their mistakes. He doesn’t blame them for making human errors. But rather, in light of another game where the San Jose Sharks benefitted from yet another missed call, he wants to help them see the game better.
Consequently, that requires removing them from the ice and relying more on video replay.
“You take two of the refs off the ice, put them in the penalty box — have their skates on if they want to — one guy can be watching the calls, the linesman can be watching the off-sides,” said Brind’Amour. “So you get them out of the way. They’re getting in the way. It’s hard. The game’s so fast. You watch how often the puck hits them. I mean, to me you can get these calls quickly and done right and that’s all you want. As a player, a coach, a fan, you just want to make sure you get the calls right. But we’ll see.”
Brind’Amour called it a “simple” solution to a complicated problem. But the word he was probably looking for was “logical.”
When asked if it’s time to expand video review, his said “It’s been time forever.”
On Wednesday, San Jose won Game 3 of the Western Conference final on a play where all four on-ice officials missed what was clearly a hand pass on the game-winning goal. Because hand passes are not reviewable, the goal counted, even though the referees — and every single St. Louis Blues fan in the building — saw the replay of the illegal play over and over again.
“I was sitting at home with my son watching that game and there was a play earlier where it (the puck) was flipped over the glass, I said ‘watch how long this is going to take? We’ll know within three seconds.’ And we did. In three seconds, NBC showed a review,” said Brind’Amour. “It was (originally) a penalty. And they were actually quick to say no penalty. But it’s time. We can go on this forever. It’s time. It’s time to get the calls right. It’s just too important. The games matter so much. That’s tough last night to watch.”
Common sense is what every fan really wants when it comes to getting the right call on the ice. And yet, be careful what you wish for.
In a league that some would suggest has taken video review way too far, Brind’Amour’s idea to take it even further would mean even more delays and even more overturned calls for plays that didn’t have anything to do with the actual goal.
If you are going to start reviewing hand passes, then you’re opening up Pandora’s box even wider.
Do you then start reviewing penalties? How about icing calls? Where do you draw the line? We’re already at a point in video review where goals are constantly being challenged for missed offside calls, even if a goal was scored minutes after the offending play. With what Brind’Amour is suggesting, every play on the ice could be reviewed.
“I’m probably one of the guys that sometimes thinks there’s too much (video review),” said Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy. “There’s human error in the game, you have to live through it, but the argument that’s made is with technology everyone in the rink sees the play, so how can you not use it if it’s available to you? We can probably sit here for an hour going through it all. I just think that you get some calls go your way, some you don’t, and you have to play through it.”
The Bruins were on the receiving end of a missed call in the second round against the Blue Jackets, when a puck hit the protective netting moments before a goal was scored. The goal stood, because it was a non-reviewable play. And Cassidy lived with it.
“At least for us we had a chance to regroup and play,” said Cassidy, who’s team went on to win that game. “St. Louis didn’t get that opportunity last night. That’s the part that stinks for them. We had a chance to sort of put it behind us. There was still hockey left. At the end of the day for us, it wasn’t as punitive as it was for St. Louis.”
This is something that the league will wrestle with at the next GM meetings. You hate to see rule changes enacted because of knee jerk reactions to a fluke play that probably won’t happen again, but this isn’t a one-off anymore. San Jose reached the second round on a botched five-minute major penalty in Game 7 against Vegas, and then benefitted from a questionable overturned offside in Game 7 against Colorado.
Now, the Sharks are two wins away from heading to a Cup final that they really have no business being in.
It was the latest in a string of missed calls that have put a black eye on these playoffs. The way it’s going, we’re headed towards another foot-in-the-crease type of situation where the winner of the Cup could have an asterisk etched beside its name.
Copyright Postmedia Network Inc., 2019