A Carolina Hurricanes blog with occasional news about the rest of the NHL.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

the Nathan Horton "goal"

During the Panthers five-on-three sequence mid-way through the third, the referees made what I believe to be a mistake. The "mistake" gave the Panthers a goal, but didn't cost the Canes the game. It wasn't a missed hooking call or a bad off-side call. Nothing like that. It was a bizarre turn of events that essentially ended with a non-reviewable call being overturned on the ice.

Olli Jokinen fired a wrist shot from the high slot that hit the crossbar and caromed up into the air and to the left of the goal. Martin Gelinas was in the goal mouth area, and attempted to bat it down, but didn't. Nathan Horton was just off the left post, and he did knock the puck down. After knocking the puck down, he put it in the net as referee Don Koharski was blowing the whistle and waiving the "goal" off. He immediately and emphatically motioned "no goal", followed by the gesture indicating that the puck had been knocked out of the air with a high stick.

The goal horn sounded, the fans and players were celebrating, but Koharski waved the goal off.

Immediately, all four officials convened at the scorer's table, eliciting some thought that the play would be reviewed. However, as the Fox Sports South crew pointed out, the play isn't reviewable. Rule 39.4 of the NHL Rules outlines the seven instances that are video reviewable. The sixth of these does pertain to high stick, but only in cases of the puck going directly in off a high stick. In this case, the puck was batted down with the high stick, then knocked in the net as two separate motions.

Accordingly, the replay was not used to "review the play". At the end of the day, however, the ruling on the ice was overturned and the goal was awarded.

There are a couple of key things here. The video replay showed that it was questionable, and may have been a legal stick. However, (1) the on-ice call was "high stick", and (2) Koharski blew his whistle. Even after the puck crossed the line, he emphatically waved it off.

Just in case, rule 32.2 states, in part:
As there is a human factor involved in blowing the whistle to stop play, the Referee may deem the play to be stopped slightly prior to the whistle actually being blown. The fact that the puck may come loose or cross the goal line prior to the sound of the whistle has no bearing if the Referee has ruled that the play had been stopped prior to this happening.

We've seen this before, where the referee says that he was in the "motion" of blowing the whistle, and the play should be deemed dead at that moment. This is what happened. In the replay, Koharski goes to his mouth with the left hand and whistle just before the puck crosses the line. His call was "high stick", and if that's the call, the play should be dead. Period. Whether the puck had or had not crossed the line is irrelevant. The whistle was being blown.

This is what Peter Laviolette was furious about. He barked at the officials for several moments, saying that the play was blown dead before the puck crossed the line. Once the whistle blows, the play is dead. Couple that with the emphatic signaling by the official, this should be clearly "no goal". The gestures of the lead official (Koharski) were consistent with the gestures for "no goal" and also with "batted with a high stick".

The official scorer conversed with somebody via telephone and the on-ice call was overturned. The play wasn't officially "under review", but after some delay, the on-ice crew was told to count the goal. I don't get it. On a non-reviewable situation, Toronto overruled the on ice officials. The way Lavi was going at the officials, and the way he was not assessed a bench minor for doing so suggest to me that they weren't completely sure about the ruling.

Moments later, the Fox Sports South people were told by Toronto that the emphatic gestures made by Koharski meant that he was waving off the high stick rather than waving off the goal. This is a completely bogus explanation of the occurrences, and the League should be embarrassed. If that were the case, Koharski would have also emphatically indicated that the goal was good, he would have pointed to the goal, then to Horton. This isn't what happened. He motioned emphatically "no goal" and indicated several times "high stick".

In the end, it doesn't really matter. Carolina still won the game. Florida got a standings point that they might not have gotten otherwise, but Carolina wasn't denied any. Not like the blatant error that cost the Oilers a standings point.

To be honest, I don't think the puck was batted with a high stick. None of that matters, though. The play was whistled dead, and that was the non-reviewable call on the ice. I don't know who forced the decision to overturn, or why they did so. The League should be embarrassed about its non-sensical explanation of the hand gestures made by Koharski. Their explanation isn't consistent with anything.

1 comment:

magnolia_mer said...

d - whassup with your security certificate? IE (which sucks, I'm aware) doesn't seem to like it these days. Don't worry, I told it you were okay.


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