Sunday, February 27, 2011

Questions to the NHL Need Answers

It is often easy as a fan to get the feeling as though the referees and the league is out to get your favourite team. Admittedly, I have tried to avoid getting behind this logic regarding the Blue Jackets, even though there have been many games where after watching, I can not help but think that the league officials and on ice officials simply do not offer the Blue Jackets the same level of respect as their opponents.

Unfortunately, two circumstances in the Sunday game against Nashville bring out rather glaring examples of this. Rather than spend a few paragraphs spouting hateful banter against the league, I will try to reasonably discuss the logic of each decision, and consider both sides of the fence.

First, the no goal call on MacKenzie, who appeared to shovel an Umberger rebound past Rinne for a 1-0 Columbus lead. I fully expect video via youtube eventually, and will update at that time, but for now, let me simply describe it. MacKenzie poked the puck with his stick, which disappeared beyond Rinne's pad (going into the net, obviously, as that would be the only place it could go). A Nashville defender slammed his stick toward the puck shortly after, pressing Rinne's pad all the way into the net. At that time, the puck was not visible on any of the replay angles, including one angle which showed the entirety of goal line, without an inch of black puck visible.

Secondary to all of this, the referee responsible for waving off the goal was against the boards along the goal line, likely over twenty feet away from the play, and on the opposite side of the net. As replay very clearly indicated, he began moving the whistle to his mouth well after the Nashville defender shoved Rinne's pad into the net. With that explained, the first question I would like answered, would be how the ref could conclusively claim at that time that he saw and believed no goal was scored? His decision to call a 'no goal' was reinforced by the war room in Toronto, claiming insufficient visible evidence to call a good goal. Had the referee been in proper position to view the puck crossing the line, or in other words had he made the opposite call, the goal would have stood.

The last concern I have with the no goal call, and one I would love to have answered by the league, is if there is no visible evidence of the puck either on the line or even near the line, especially with clear video evidence of the entire line unobstructed, how could it not be logical to assume that the puck was clearly in the net, especially with visible evidence some seconds later showing a Nashville player pulling the puck back across the line? Nothing in their logic adds to a fair and logical decision.

Here is the 'before' freeze frame, where you can clearly see the puck sitting in front of the post;

Here is the after.  Weird, no puck!

Now, on to my second question. How is it possible that Shea Weber, after being hit by Umberger and getting cut, spending some time on the ice, was able to continue playing the game? Here is the ruling I found in the NHL Rulebook provided by

8.3 Blood – A player who is bleeding or who has visible blood on his equipment or body shall be ruled off the ice at the next stoppage of play. Such player shall not be permitted to return to play until the bleeding has been stopped and the cut or abrasion covered (if necessary). It is required that any affected equipment and/or uniform be properly decontaminated or exchanged.
Based on this rule, as Weber had clearly sustained a facial cut which was bleeding consistently, he should have been sent off the ice prior to play resuming with 5.5 seconds left of the clock. Weber was clearly infuriated by the decision to not call a penalty on RJ Umberger leading to his cut, and began to take his frustration out on any Blue Jacket player coming near him, including two rather vicious cross checks on Fedor Tyutin as time expired. Tyutin, bothered by the aggression, stood up to defend himself, at which time Weber threw a very clear suckerpunch, knocking Tyutin back down to the ice.

This dangerous misconduct could have easily been avoided had the referees followed the rule clearly stated above, forcing Weber off the ice for repair. I would hope that the league makes a point of holding the referees responsible for what should have been a textbook decision, and furthermore, make an example of Weber for clearly going beyond the rules to take revenge against the opposing team.

It is a shame that we as fans are forced to lose enjoyment of the game to tolerate these kinds of mistakes by both on and off ice officials. I will not be the person to comment on here about the penalties that were missed (which went both ways) as the game is fast, and those mistakes are much easier to make, but the two concerns I have outlined above are simply not excusable.

Carry the Flag!

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