Spoke this morning with NHL Senior Vice-President of Hockey Operations Mike Murphy about last night's "phantom goal" that would have given San Jose a 5-4 overtime victory over Buffalo. Instead, the Sabres scored an impressive shootout win
, probably their high point of the season so far.
The league views this under the prism of Rule 78.5 -- the world-famous "Intent to Blow." If the referee intends to blow his whistle to stop the play, that supersedes everything.
Here is what Murphy said:
"We have in a week two, three or four plays when the puck goes in the net as the whistle goes. What we look for is how strong a referee's signal is, how committed he is to his call.
"We don't want to undermine the referee... have people watching saying, 'See, see, see, they don't agree,' so before we put him on the headset we're looking to see how strong he is on his call."
The one thing that drives the NHL crazy about these things is people judging it in slow motion. You'd be better off sword-fighting a swarm of gnats, because technology makes that too simple, but Murphy and his co-workers do try to work through this stuff at real speed.
This is what he saw:
"[Referee Mike] Leggo waves it off when the puck hits the post and starts to come to the net as a scramble develops. [In the NHL's video review room in Toronto] we're still looking at the puck off the post, then see the play with Leggo approaching net, putting the whistle in his mouth and he waves aggressively.
"The optics would have been better if we got him to put on the headset and asked what he was seeing... We spoke after the game, I told him it did go in, we probably would get some pushback and should have gotten him over [to the headset] for the optics of the review."
Interestingly, the review would have happened before the league office actually knew the puck was in the net. It's not uncommon to review shots off the post or wild scrambles near the line, but like San Jose's broadcast team (Buffalo's didn't show it), Murphy and his mates didn't realize it was a goal until after play resumed. A goal cannot count in that situation.
Despite all this, Murphy is adamant it was the right call under Rule 78.5.
"Had we called a goal against Buffalo it would have been wrong, because it shouldn't have been a goal," he said. "We should have done the headsets, because any controversy would have died. This type of play is not a rarity."
Back to accessibility links