Fraser: The non-call on Corey Perry in overtime

Kerry Fraser
2/9/2012 3:04:54 PM
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Got a question on rule clarification, comments on rule enforcements or some memorable NHL stories? Kerry Fraser wants to answer your emails at cmonref@tsn.ca!

Keep up the awesome work on the column, I love tuning in, seeing what you have to say.

I was watching the Ducks and Carolina game and in the OT, with little over 2 minutes to go, Correy Perry appeared to trip up a Carolina player, forcing him out of the play and leaving Perry open.

And if it wasn't bad enough that the call was missed, Perry scores! Oh my! The Ducks scored, won the game, and Kirk Muller was FURIOUS. Can you blame him?

What happened here? Human error factor? I understand it must be a TOUGH job making those calls in such split seconds, I can only imagine. Curious to know if there is an explanation on this one, my friend.


Hi Andrew:

Thank you for the shout out and please keep dialing into C'mon Ref.

There is no sugar coating my explanation on this play Andrew. Corey Perry tripped Jussi Jokinen (video link here) with an active stick to the back of Jussi's skates.  Perry should have been in the penalty box instead of slapping the one timer into the back of the net past Cam Ward for the OT win. 

The referee down low appeared to be in good position behind the goal line with an unobstructed view. The action on the puck carrier would have been his responsibility on this play and therefore highly unlikely that the infraction would have been undetected. Human error or reluctance to make the call at that point in the game could be two possibilities.

If you wind the video back a little bit on that same shift you will see Corey Perry take a pretty good slash on the lower hand from Jay Harrison in front of the Carolina net. Perry was shaking his hand as he turned up ice on the back check and with the Hurricanes on the attack. This too was worthy of a penalty.

While I am not suggesting this was the case here but because none of us know what the referee saw or was thinking but one of the worst things that can happen to a ref is when he recognizes he missed an infraction or avoided calling one. He might even think it wasn't that bad at first but in reflection, as the play continues, he determines it was one he should have called.

In the resulting head game that takes place, human nature and a false sense of fairness intervene and occupy valuable real estate between the ref's ears and in the pit of his stomach. He feels boxed in to allow the player fouled or a member of his team a free pass to commit a minor infraction as well.

In an attempt to be 'fair' you ultimately become an accountant trying to balance the books instead of a referee. Usually the second infraction you feel you must allow is worse than the first one.  

At that point the ref has started the snowball rolling down the hill and he can become unsure when to pick an infraction to stop the slide. It's often just a matter of time before an avalanche results. We've all been there and you hope for a stoppage or the opportunity to reset the standard. In overtime, the task of maintaining any appearance of consistency is magnified if one was let go.

If a referee tells you this has never happened to him (or her) they haven't been around very long or they are just flat out lying to you.

The easy answer is that two wrongs don't make it right; just call the infractions from start to finish regardless of the score or time. That is what is expected of the referee. For those of you that jump on the bandwagon here you are absolutely right in theory.

In practicality it would also demonstrate to me that you have never been in the position that the referees find themselves in or put themselves in during the emotion, speed, intensity and ebb and flow of a game.

Since there is no steam shovel big enough to dig a ref out of a hole like this the best solution is to let the missed call pass by and not hold onto it in your thoughts. The referee has to make hundreds even thousands of decisions in every game. Most are right but some are not.

When I missed an infraction I usually went to the player at an opportune time and dialogued with him. Knowing that I had missed it I would admit it and apologize. The usual response back from the player was, "That's okay, you owe us one!"

I always cut this debate short by telling the player, "I can't do that because two wrongs won't make it right."

Human error and human frailty are part of the game at all levels; possibly no different than in your work place as well. 

Corey Perry (Photo: The Canadian Press)


(Photo: The Canadian Press)
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