Fraser: The call on Chris Phillips's puck cover-up

Kerry Fraser

1/24/2012 4:25:19 PM

Got a question on rule clarification, comments on rule enforcements or some memorable NHL stories? Kerry Fraser wants to answer your emails at!

The play I'm concerned with in this email brings us to a very prominent question among fans these days, one which I hope you'll take the time to address. Why doesn't the league consider some sort of video-replay challenge?! In the Ottawa vs. L.A. game Monday night a penalty shot was awarded to the Kings after Chris Phillips used his wrist to knock the puck under his goaltender while in the crease. I don't believe you will question my assertion that this is a blown call (seeing as, if you'll indulge my bias, the refs had been working hard all game to exact revenge against the trash-talking MacLean). What I want to know is how you feel about video review. This was essentially a free and unwarranted goal spoon fed to the Kings. It could have been avoided with a one minute review!
Thanks Kerry,
Peter (Ottawa)
Hey Kerry,
After watching the Senators-Kings game last night I actually turned it off after the second period since the officiating was brutal in my opinion, and the game was pretty well over.  Even with that though, can't take anything away from the Kings, they definitely outplayed the Sens, and Quick, well, he's an all star, and that's all that has to be said. The guy can play goal.
That penalty shot call though, the ref had a clear view of the play from right behind, if not above the net, and Anderson ended up with the puck when the whistle was blown.  The replay showed you can clearly see the puck the whole time and Phillips only swiped it out of harm's way safely into his goaltender.  Do you think they might introduce more instances a video review could be called, since the CBA is up this year? Why isn't it already a reviewable occurrence?
P.S. - Love this blog by the way!
Smithtown, NY
I was watching the Senators-Kings game on Monday night, and the Senators got a penalty shot called against them. The ref (Tim Peel) seemed to think that Chris Phillips covered the puck, yet the replay clearly showed that it was Craig Anderson who covered the puck, and that the ref had a clear view of the play from behind the net. Earlier in the game, Chris Phillips looked in disbelief at Peel after a missed call, but Peel just shook his head at Phillips. My question is can an incident between a player and an official affect a later call, and couldn't whether or not a penalty shot is necessary in a situation like the one in Ottawa-L.A. game be reviewed since play will have stopped regardless of the outcome?
Reid Zingel, Ottawa

Peter, Eric, Reid and all:

I am presently in British Columbia travelling with Bryan Trottier (seven Stanley Cups), Bob Bourne (Four Stanley Cups), Glenn Anderson (six Stanley Cups), Ron Flockhart, Larry Melnyk (two Stanley Cups) and Warren Skorodenski on a six-game NHL Old Timer Legends tour.

Last night we were in Campbell River, B.C. at beautiful Chances Casino, one of the local sponsors of our tour and hosts for the post-game reception. I was having dinner with a group of local B.C. referees, sharing stories and glancing at the Senators-Kings game on the big screen.  I saw a scramble for the puck in the goal crease during live action and shouted, "Oh no, the wrong call has just been made in awarding a penalty shot!"

In the past week I have been asked to comment on at least three referee errors in and around the crease that have resulted in goals being scored or denied. In each case I pointed out it was less than a perfect vantage point that the referee had assumed to make his decision. I repeat once again, it is all about "positioning to gain the best possible sight line."

While the Los Angeles Kings outstanding broadcast team led by legendary play-by-play man Bob Miller and the always fair and knowledgeable color analyst, Jim Fox initially pointed out that referee Tim Peel was in 'perfect position' (As seen in the video you can click here in this link) to make the call I have to disagree.

Let me explain why the obstructed sightline that the referee had on the play resulted in the incorrect decision to award a penalty shot.

Coaches and players will tell you that utilizing "angles" to cut down the ice allows a defender the best opportunity to defend against his opponent as opposed to a straight on attack. Setting up an unobstructed angled view on play is almost always the best sightline that a referee can gain in order to render the proper decision. In a goalmouth scramble, standing behind the net does not create the best view.

The two referee system creates the luxury for the lead referee (backing up with the players approaching him) to observe a front view to determine fouls. From this desired location the ref can see the faces of the players and the location and restraint that are being applied with a stick or hand.

In the old one man system the referee was constantly chasing the play and looking through the backs of players. From this location it was vital that an angle was drawn to determine if in fact a foul had been committed because of the depth perception issue and inability to see through players backs.

Last night in Los Angeles an obstructed view was gained as referee Peel peered through the net and the back of players; particularly the back and arm of Senators defenceman Chris Phillips. From this vantage point (and without the benefit of X-ray eyes) the referee was given the impression that the puck had been covered by Phillips hand as it was slid toward goaltender Craig Anderson.

It was next to impossible for the referee to correctly determine if the puck had been covered by Chris Phillips from this disadvantaged position. Instead, if the referee had attacked the net with quick feet movement from the side and slightly ahead of the goal line, an angled front view looking into the net would have provided the best sightline to determine that Phillips did not cover the puck in the crease.

Here's a depth perception sightline test for you. Line up five pucks in the goal crease along the goal line. Place the pucks at different increments ahead of the line, on the line and over the goal line beginning with marginally across the line to clearly across the line. Then sit behind the glass in the goal judge location (or where they used to sit before being moved to higher ground in a press box and their space sold as premium seating).

Select the puck from this sightline that you can clearly see has crossed the line. You will be amazed how far the puck actually has to be across the line for you to determine that a goal is scored given the depth perception that is lost from this location. A legal goal is scored when the puck completely crosses the line. That occurs the moment white ice is visible between the black puck and red goal line.

What it takes to determine if the puck has been covered in the crease is an unobstructed view from overhead or an angle from the side - none of which referee Tim Peel had.

This situation, along with contact of the goalkeeper and others that affect the legal scoring of a goal are not reviewable at this point and time. In answer to your questions I maintain a review process should be instituted where the referee could have the opportunity to review the play on a monitor in the arena. 
I am in favour of a coach's challenge on plays such as this. In the end everyone wants to get the call right on the potential scoring of a goal. That includes the guys in the stripes that make the decisions. They, more than anyone want to get the call right.

On another note, the reception we received last night in the Rod Brind'Amour Arena in Campbell River was tremendous. The former NHL players were not the only legends in the arena on this night. Howie Meeker, four time Stanley Cup Champion as a player with the Toronto Maple Leafs (1946-1954) and legendary Hockey Night in Canada analyst was in the house! I put my skate guards on and took the hand held microphone to interview this hockey icon.

The twinkle in Mr. Meeker's eyes and big smile radiated when I approached his and he had the opportunity to talk about the game he loves so much. Howie reminisced about watching Glenn Anderson and company demonstrating the skillful hands on this night that he so often commented on during their Cup victories.
My final question for Howie was with all of his tremendous accomplishments within the game was there one memory that sticks in his mind. Without hesitation, I got a patented "Golly-Gee-Wilikers" and immediate response. After returning from overseas it was his first game in the NHL as a Toronto Maple Leaf in 1946-47 season and defeating the Montreal Canadiens for the Stanley Cup. The twinkle and mist in his eyes demonstrated the passion and love for the game that time has not erased.

As we concluded the interview and embraced I was tremendously humbled to be in the presence of this gentleman and hockey icon.

Thank you Mr. Meeker, on behalf all hockey fans around the world for the memories you provided us.

"Golly-Gee-Wilikers," you sure made it a magical evening with your presence Howie.