Henrik Sedin said it was "one of the worst calls I've ever seen from Toronto."
Sedin was of course referring to his brother Daniel's overturned goal, which would have pulled the Canucks within one early in the third period of Monday's 5-3 loss to LA. It was ruled to have been deliberately kicked in.
Thankfully, we have the opportunity to judge.
There is only one move for the NHL to make, one move that will end any controversy about SkateGate from last night. The hockey operations department should publicly release the DVD sent out to teams two months ago. Mike Murphy told Ron MacLean, Mike Milbury and Kelly Hrudey that the video contained "an addendum" to rules governing kicking the puck into the net.
(There is some precedent for this. On two previous occasions, the NHL has allowed me to show footage from league-issued DVDs. Both made stories a lot better, but neither involved as controversial a moment as this one.)
To me, that looked like a good goal. But, I haven't seen the DVD, and if plays like the one Daniel Sedin made are shown, the Canucks have no case. They - and everyone else - were forewarned. If not, well, thanks to a weak overtime penalty and this review, Vancouver fans will be distracted from the Canucks' dismal penalty kill and a Roberto Luongo yanking.
Staying out of the politics
Alain Vigneault did a smart thing in his post-game media conference, putting the focus back on his best players, pointing out the twins' line was outshot 10-1 through two by the Richardson/Handzus/Modin trio facing them. He's got to coach. Let Mike Gillis worry about the off-ice stuff.
Earlier this season, NHL GMs made it clear they would prefer the War Room in Toronto make the final decision on all video reviews, not the on-ice officials. The final straw for a lot of them was Steve Ott's bizarre shootout goal from Jan. 16. Rob Martell, the referee right on the goal-line, was overruled by Mike Leggo and Lonnie Cameron, who didn't have as good a view. The GMs wanted Colin Campbell, Mike Murphy et al to hold ultimate power.
That's probably why the review took so long. I don't really have a problem with that, since the most important thing is to get it right.
Of course, that doesn't stop me from being deluged with links to a lakings.com article where Murphy - who used to captain and coach the team - says he'd love to see them win a Cup. Put away the tinfoil hats, people. The guy isn't going to fix a series. It's just moronic.
Campbell/Murphy correctly disallowed Peter Regin's goal from Sunday night in Ottawa, but you can't help but wonder if there's a better way to remove the subjectivity from this kind of play. I don't agree with making all goals off the skate illegal, but you could always say anything off a skate is good as long as the blade never leaves the ice.
The Canucks have no one to blame but themselves for being down 2-1 in the series, failing to keep a lead in Game 2 at home. But, their fans do deserve some transparency; especially after a blatantly illegal Detroit line change went unpenalized less than 24 hours after Vancouver got one in overtime for a mild violation.
Release the footage. That should end the debate.
1. Henrik Sedin should not be fined for his quote. These games are off the charts in their emotion and intensity. He said it minutes after a brutal loss. Just let it go.
2. There have been some strange calls/non-calls these playoffs. Coaches were really worried about this, especially as the more senior refs are being weeded out by the league. There is a feeling the less-experienced officials are not ready. However, these refs do deserve credit for not overreacting to big hits, especially with the head-shot debate. The physicality of the playoffs this season is exceptional, and they deserve credit for allowing that.
3. Surprised by how many thought Evgeni Nabokov was at fault for the Game 3 winner in Colorado. They felt he was asleep. Tough call. Are they judging him on past performance as opposed to the one play?
4. Someone in the San Jose organization did some horrible things in a past life. I mean Colorado barely touched the puck after the first period. If I was Doug Wilson, I'd call in Pedro Cerrano from the movie Major League and have him sacrifice a chicken. What else can you do?
5. There were a few people who thought the Penguins were vulnerable, a team that lost its will during the season. Garry Galley nailed it - the best thing that happened to them was losing Game 1. They woke up and are totally different, nasty and edgy.
6. Crosby sets the tone. Michael Rupp compared him to Scott Stevens, a guy who leads by example, who wows teammates with his work ethic. Rupp surprised me by saying neither talks too much, but when they do, everyone stops and listens. I figured Stevens was a fire-breathing maniac (intended to be a compliment), but that is not the case.
7. Really interested by the story of Crosby's "Golden Stick," which disappeared after he scored the Olympic winner. Brad Pascall and Scott Salmond from Hockey Canada found it, they initially weren't certain it was the correct one. They sent photos to him, and Crosby identified it immediately. How? "I used two sticks in the game," he said. "I changed before the overtime because the first one had a mark on the blade, so when I saw no mark, I knew it was the winner."
8. One Ottawa player had praise for Kris Letang: "I thought he was soft, but he's taking everything we're throwing at him and not backing down."
9. Max Talbot said this year was like "robbing the bank," as he was injured and ineffective. He said he wasn't 100 per cent until last week and is playing like it.
10. Probably won't find out how hurt Daniel Alfredsson really is until after Ottawa is done, but I think he returned so quickly in Game 3 for two reasons: The team is already down two top six forwards (Kovalev/Michalek) and he thought this could be a special year for the Senators. One observer noted his intensity in practice two weeks ago, and when I asked about it, he said he wanted to set the proper example of what it takes to win in a wide-open Eastern Conference.
11. Speaking of Kovalev, interesting stuff from him. "It's just kind of disappointing to have (the knee injury)...against a team not making the playoffs...could have easily waited until the playoffs and skipped those kind of games." Wonder what Cory Clouston thought of that. Of course, the Senators will probably reply that Kovalev skipped a lot of games this year.
12. When Jarome Iginla was asked what would happen if the Flames wanted to move him, he said this: "If they don't want me here and they want to move in a direction or rebuild or believed they could do better, I would look at it. Absolutely." Reaction around the league: He wants to go.
13. Really didn't like the exit media conference from Ken King and Darryl Sutter. King basically saying fans are happy because 97 per cent of season ticket holders put down deposits to renew is horribly condescending and out-of-touch. Put it this way: I don't think the Maple Leafs - who get accused of that thinking more than any other team - would say that.
14. As for the GM, one of his former players watched his performance, and said, "That's got to be an act." Sutter is certainly stubborn and doesn't handle criticism very well, but the player said the man who coached him "is nothing like that," saying Sutter is a brilliant motivator, great when kids are around and unfailingly supportive if, God forbid, you run into a family problem.
15. Asked one GM about the market for Sheldon Souray. He said it will be tough for Edmonton and not just for the obvious reasons. "Souray has to prove he's still got the passion to play," the GM said.
16. When I asked if there was any way he could see the defenceman returning to Edmonton, he said, "Depends on his attitude. Ottawa had to get rid of Dany Heatley when it saw how he arrived in camp. If Souray's like that, too, you can't have him around young players you're trying to rebuild with."
17. Edmonton should consider trading is Ales Hemsky. With two years left on a good-value contract, they'll get serious offers.
18. One player, after watching the first two games of the Montreal series, said, "The Canadiens were playing great, but they were getting all the bounces. Once that changed, you could see they were in trouble."
19. People might not like that Alexander Ovechkin said Jaroslav Halak looked scared, but that's been missing from his personality lately. I think he needs to be that way to be at his best.
20. Mike Green should stop trying to be what others want him to be. Just play like you do. It's why you made it.
21. Player the Capitals are vulnerable to losing via offer sheet: Eric Fehr.
22. Dean Lombardi admitted last summer that he had to overpay to get Rob Scuderi across the country. Forget that. He got good value.
23. Jacques Lemaire tells Ilya Kovalchuk to stop with the undisciplined penalties. In Game 3, he doesn't take any and the Devils lose. His quote to The Bergen Record, "Maybe I should take a couple of penalties to win." I wasn't there to witness this in context, but I hope he delivered it with a smile and not a sneer.
24. From afar, Curtis Joseph has been advising Brian Elliott since Christmas. Is he interested in being Ottawa's next goalie coach?
25. The Rick Dudley/Don Waddell job change was a paper move. In reality, Dudley had been making the hockey decisions for quite some time.
26. Hockey is a brutal business: Waddell had to fire his college roommate, Steve Weeks, as part of the housecleaning.
27. Dudley is very close with Chicago assistant John Torchetti, but word is he probably won't be the Thrashers next head coach. John Stevens would be a good fit, since the GM wants a young guy who can grow with the team.
28. The Doug Risebrough-to-Tampa rumours apparently come from the fact that Jac Sperling, vice-chairman of the Minnesota Wild, helped put the Lightning ownership deal together for Jeff Vinik. Sperling suggested his former GM as a good candidate.
29. Ken Campbell of The Hockey News reported Rob Blake was the competition committee's deciding vote against going to four-on-four OT in the playoffs. Blake deserves a spot in the Hall of Fame just for that.
30. What kind of clown needs to put the words to a national anthem on a BlackBerry? Is it that hard to memorize?
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