Got a question on rule clarification, comments on rule enforcements or some memorable NHL stories? Kerry wants to answer your emails at firstname.lastname@example.org.
How does Alex Galchenyuk get called for tripping Carl Hagelin in the neutral zone in the second period? Where was the official watching this from? Looked like Hagelin took a dive over Galchenyuk's foot!
Carl Hagelin did not deliberately take a dive or embellish his fall in an attempt to draw a penalty as he picked up a loose puck on a turnover at the red line. Hagelin made a sweeping cut turn as he attempted to reverse his direction toward the Montreal zone and in doing so both of his skates made independent contact with the left skate blade of Alex Galchenyuk.
Hagelin's lose of balance, forward momentum and attempt to advance the puck as he was falling contributed to an impression some might hold that the Rangers player took a dive. In the eyes of one referee it was deemed a trip and resulted in a power play goal.
Referee Dan O'Halloran trailed the play out of the Montreal end zone on the players' bench side after Andrei Markov flipped the puck into the neutral zone. When the skate contact between Hagelin and Galchenyuk occurred, O'Halloran was approximately mid to three quarters toward the Habs blue line and looking directly into and through neutral zone player traffic. From this location the referee would not have been able to draw an angle on the play and erroneously determined that Galchenyuk had committed a tripping infraction. Hindsight is, as they say, 20/20 and you can be certain that the referee wishes he had not perceived the play as he did.
This play demonstrates the magnitude and potential consequence that a penalty call can have on a game and possibly even a series. Hockey is an extremely fast paced game. We know that officials, players and coaches make mistakes. In an effort to minimize errors in judgment the official needs to find the very best location in advance to judge a play; to find that perfect "replay angle" in real time whenever humanly possible. I have often referenced an officials positioning in answer to your questions.
One aspect of officiating that I haven't written about much (and probably more important than having your feet in the right place) is for the official to have his head in the right place to avoid overreacting or being fooled on a play. It is crucial that every official sustain a rock-solid level of concentration throughout the game; especially as he deals with self-imposed pressure and excessive amounts of pressure exerted upon him externally.
We often hear broadcasters refer to a high level of "energy or intensity" that is displayed by a player or team. A referee observes the game as it is being played in the moment; but more importantly, he must "think" the game with an "intensity of focus and concentration" that doesn't allow for any distractions to adversely affect his judgment. The referee's perception of a play becomes his reality. He must silence the crowd in his head by letting the noise pass through his ears as a meaningless background effect. The ref must also move on from confrontations with players and coaches to keep his mental awareness where it belongs. To accomplish this task, an internal running dialogue or play-by-play commentary can be implemented by the referee to remain focused. (I often implemented this procedure to intensify my focus and concentration.) An official that sustains a state of intense concentration is much less likely to overreact or misread a play. A referee that is dialed into the zone can better differentiate between legitimate fouls and allowable contact in all locations on the ice. Finally, there can't be any 'guess work' at this time of the season. If a ref is not 100 per cent sure a foul was committed, he should never raise his arm.