NHL

Fraser: Should the Islanders' 4-4 goal against Leafs count?

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Kerry Fraser
2/28/2014 2:16:30 PM
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Got a question on rule clarification, comments on rule enforcements or some memorable NHL stories? Kerry wants to answer your emails at cmonref@tsn.ca.

Dear Kerry,

I was watching the fourth goal for the Islanders in the game against the Leafs, it seemed the Leafs goalie Bernier had the puck covered and the referee blew the whistle raised his arms in the air to signal the play was dead and then moments later signaled good goal.

On the overhead replay, you could see the puck cross the line before the whistle, however it seems to me that the referee thought the puck was covered and intended to blow the play dead as he blew the whistle before ever seeing the puck free.

Would this fall under the intent to blow the play dead under Rule 31.2: "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."

Look forwards to hearing your take on the play.

Jordan Anstey

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Hi Kerry,

I have a question regarding the Leaf/Islanders game. The Islanders just tied the game 4-4 on a questionable goal, in my opinion.

The puck was never frozen by Bernier, as it rolled across the goal line. The referee at the crease blew his whistle, waved it dead and then immediately pointed to the puck in the net.

How on earth can you blow the play dead and then reverse it?

That shouldn't have counted! Please correct me if I am wrong.

Best Regards,
Dale

Jordan and Dale:

Referee Denis LaRue did everything correctly from the moment he attacked the net with speed and eventually located the puck across the goal line the goal line behind Jonathan Bernier.  Any evidence or question of the referee's "intent to blow the whistle" would have resulted from the fact that he could not see the puck as he approached the net and therefore might have assumed it was frozen under Bernier's equipment (puck out of sight).

The referee demonstrated patience in not blowing the whistle pre-maturely as he continued on a path toward the goal crease in an effort to find the puck.

Once referee LaRue got to the net he did in fact locate the puck across the goal line almost simultaneously with his decision to kill the play. This visual picture was quickly processed and abruptly changed any thought he might have had that the puck was frozen. The puck in the net was now a reality for the referee. As such, Denis LaRue's hands immediately went from the 'field goal' position signaling "play is dead" to pointing into the net signaling that a legal goal had been scored! This visual evidence demonstrated and confirmed to the referee that the puck had entered the net prior to his whistle and any "intent" he might have had to blow the play dead. It is somewhat speculative to assume the puck is frozen just because you don't see it. Definitive evidence is presented whenever the referee sees the puck across the goal line. A legal goal must be based on that evidence.

Far too many times I have seen referees misjudge plays in and around the goal crease when they remained stationary in the corner or kept an obstructed view without moving their feet. Had it not been for LaRue's quick reaction this could have been just another one of those unfortunate times. On the play Travis Hamonic's shot from the point was deflected by Carl Gunnarsson and picked up behind the goal line half way to the corner by Ryan Strome. This altered puck position forced the referee to retreat to the corner just ahead of the goal line. Strome then threw the puck to the front of the net and it was redirected by Anders Lee between Bernier's pads.

Rather than remain in the corner, Referee LaRue read the situation and reacted without hesitation by sprinting to the net on angle that allowed him to avoid Nazim Kadri and Ryan Strome. En route to the net the ref's inability to immediately locate the puck, along with his instinct and experience might have caused him to think the puck was underneath Jonathan Bernier. LaRue's patience with the whistle and his quick footed attack toward the net to locate the puck behind Bernier resulted in the correct call to allow the goal scored by Anders Lee to stand.

In this situation the referee demonstrated a text book attack of the net in order to render the correct call.

Jonathan Bernier (Photo: The Canadian Press)

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(Photo: The Canadian Press)
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