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Mr. Fraser, please explain to me what happened on OT in the Sharks-Isles game over the weekend?
One linesman is clearly seen making the 'tipped' sign for the puck going out of play, then all of a sudden they huddle and say "Delay of Game," pretty much costing the Isles a shot of an extra point. As you watch the replays, one linesman is ducking so he has no view of it and the other says 'tipped,' why then would they change the call?
Joe from NYC
Not many people have seen the missed call on the Island Saturday night that led to the Sharks' overtime win against the Islanders, but I am sure you have.
Like coach Capuano said after the game officials have a tough job. However, most of us in the stands seen it and so did all the players and staff. Why when in doubt did two officials and two linesman conclude that the puck went straight out of play and not just say no one seen it - so no call? 'No calls' like that happen all the time on high sticking incidents. Also since that is not a judgment call should it be re-viewable?
Joe and Tom:
I must concur with NY Islander coach Jack Capuano's post game comment, "The game officials have a tough job." Saturday night at the Nassau Coliseum an incorrect assessment on a delay of game penalty in overtime made their job even tougher and resulted in the game winning goal being scored with San Jose on the power play.
Whether you like rule 63.2 - Delaying the Game or hate it, let me assure you it can be extremely difficult for the officials, in the very best of circumstance, to detect if the puck is shot directly out of the rink unless it clears the glass by a wide margin. Factor in the possibility of an active stick on the fore-check, player traffic, distance and angle of all the officials from the play and even the dark winter clothing the spectators wear can affect the game officials clarity in making the right decision. That is why there is often a huddle by the officiating crew to gather a consensus from various on-ice positions to attempt to get it right. In this case they obviously didn't get it right at a crucial time which negatively impacted the game.
For those of you that didn't see the play let me describe what took place. With the teams playing four aside in OT, Islander defenceman Travis Hamonic gained possession of the puck deep in his end zone corner to the left of goalkeeper Rick DiPietro. Hamonic started to skate with the puck as John Tavares bolted past Brent Burns of San Jose at the Islanders' blue line on the same side of the ice as Hamonic and close to where linesman Jonny Murray was correctly positioned.
Also on this side of the ice and skating backwards to lead the approaching Islander attack was referee Mike Hasenfratz. From this vantage point Hasenfratz was focused on Burns attempted grab with his free hand on Taveres for a potential holding/interference infraction.
Logan Couture of the Sharks pressured Travis Hamonic, who then attempted to chip the puck off the glass and up ice for John Tavares. Murray turned away from the chip shot in a move of self defense with Tavares and Burns skating past him. The puck clipped the top of the glass on the chip and fluttered over the glass.
After a consultation by the officiating crew (which also included referee Eric Furlatt and rookie linesman Matt MacPherson) a delay of game penalty was assessed to Hamonic. It appeared obvious that referee Hasenfratz was unsure how the puck exited the playing surface due to his appropriate focus of attention on Burns and Tavares. I am unsure who actually made the call but the resulting explanation to Jack Capuano and assistant coach Doug Weight at the Islander bench was made by Murray.
By virtue of the numerical strength in overtime and as a result of the Islander penalty the teams would play 4 against 3 with a faceoff to the left of DiPietro in the Islander zone. I understand that linesman Matt MacPherson is a real good kid and a fine young official. On the ensuing faceoff however, Matt committed a rookie mistake by ejecting the lone NY Islander forward, center man Frans Nielsen, who had been sent out by Capuano to take this crucial draw. Hall of Fame linesmen Matt Pavelich, John D'Amico, Ray Scapinello or any veteran NHL linesman would tell the young man to give that lone forward every opportunity imaginable to take that faceoff and win it!
Defenceman Steve Staios replaced Nielsen and was no match on the draw for a partially turned Joe Thornton who won the draw cleanly to the side wall giving the Sharks end zone possession. The puck never cleared the Islanders zone and Brent Burns snapped the puck past DiPietro for the power play winner.
A couple of things need to be highlighted here. The first is the extremely difficult task the officials have to detect if the puck cleanly cleared the glass which can result in a delay of game penalty. While everyone in the Nassau Coliseum saw the replay and knew the puck had deflected off the top of the glass the officials didn't. At least one of them was convinced from his perspective that a penalty was deserved.
For the sake of argument let's assume that it was one official that made the decision on this play. Depending on his level of "certainty" in selling the call I would want to make sure through dialogue that he was 110 percent sure there was no possibility the puck had been deflected prior to exiting the playing surface. Otherwise we just might have to eat the non-call at that point.
This brings up an opportunity to revisit the coach's challenge that was proposed by Florida GM Dale Tallon. We all make mistakes and clearly this was one of those times. For those of you that watched the Eagles-Cowboys game on Sunday night you saw Philadelphia coach Andy Reid toss the red hanky on two occasions in that game. Upon further review by the referee both of Reid's challenges revealed incorrect calls by the officiating crew that were appropriately reversed.
If Jack Capuano had this option available to him the red pocket square from his suit jacket would have been tossed on this play. If the game officials had the opportunity to review that play through a coach's challenge I believe they would have welcomed the chance to change their initial, incorrect ruling on the ice. You notice I said the game officials/referee be given the opportunity to review the play.
Just like coach Capuano said, "The game officials have a tough job." To err is human, to forgive is divine. Jack Capuano deserves the "Alexander Pope Divinity Award" for his post game comments.