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Fraser: Should whistle have been blown on Wings' 2-2 goal?

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Kerry Fraser
4/3/2014 1:31:01 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.

Hi Kerry,
 
Bruins fan here, so probably biased. In the game on Wednesday against Detroit, there was a definite loss of sight of the puck on the Wings' second goal. After what I believe was at least five seconds, it dropped out of Andrej Meszaro's uniform and was kicked over to a Tomas Jurco for a goal. No one seemed to have any idea where the puck was.
 
Maybe the official was guessing it was hung up in a uniform, but is that a valid reason for not blowing the whistle? I'm thinking there is no definitive amount of time in the rules before blowing the whistle, so its subjective, but would you have blown that play dead? 
 
Thanks, Joe
 
Joe:

Presented with the same set of circumstance and perspective that the referee had on the play, I would most likely have delayed blowing the whistle as well. Let me explain how the 'hot spots' in front of the net required the refs immediate focus of attention and ultimately delayed any action he might have taken to blow the play dead.

Niklas Kronwall fired the puck from the point and it was immediately swallowed up in a tightly knit maze of eight players engaged in hand to hand combat directly in front of Bruins goalkeeper Tuukka Rask. The referee was in very good position just ahead of the goal line, approximately 15 feet from the action but looking through the backs of the majority of the players.

From this location, the referee was intent on looking for the presence of a foul committed in the pack of players as much as he was trying to locate the puck. Brad Marchand grabbed Tomas Tatar around the head and ripped his helmet off then proceeded to clamp down on the Red Wing player's stick that was located in Marchand's midsection. Other players battled and pushed for position. In the next couple to few seconds, that I am sure seemed like minutes to you and the other Bruins' fans Joe, the referee can be seen moving the whistle to his lips to kill the play. Player separation began to take place in this moment and the puck dropped from its concealed location in the equipment of Andrej Meszaros and visible for the referee.  The ref immediately withdrew the whistle from his lips prior and allowed play to continue.

Tomas Tatar could not extricate his stick from the clutches of Brad Marchand so instead he kicked the puck to open ice and onto the stick of teammate Tomas Jurco. The referee raised his arm to call a penalty for the hooking restraint that was being applied to Jurco by both Meszaros and Patrice Bergeron when the puck entered the net. 

While the puck was concealed in Andrej Meszaros' equipment for approximately three seconds (my unofficial count) I can't fault the referee for not blowing the whistle given the action in front of the net that required his more immediate focus and attention. I have noted that the whistle was moving to the ref's lips until the puck became visible which demonstrates his shift in visual and mental focus during the action. Given the circumstance surrounding this play, I can't think of many referees that would have ruled upon this any differently and delayed blowing the whistle; present company included.  

Joe, your Boston Bruins are playing incredible hockey. It is going to take more than a 'slow whistle' for any team to beat them most nights if they continue to maintain this playoff form! 

Tuukka Rask (Photo: The Canadian Press)

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(Photo: The Canadian Press)
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