There’s no doubt that Brendan Shanahan’s phone is ringing.
After a tightly contested battle at the Bell Center between the Pittsburgh Penguins and the Montreal Canadiens, the smoke will dissipate but the controversy most certainly will not.
Fans of the sport on both sides of the coin will be waiting anxiously to hear whether Max Pacioretty gets the summons from the NHL disciplinary offices or not.
If you missed the hit, here’s some video:
Now I pride myself in being unbiased when it comes to the sport. Regardless of the fact that this is a Montreal Canadiens website, I’ll call it against the franchise if I feel it’s relevant. But in this particular case, I don’t think there is any just cause for suspension.
Regardless of the point that there was no call on the ice from the officials (and we’ll get to officiating shortly), head shots are always reviewed by the league. But watching the replay several times, there are a few points that need to be noted.
First off, Kris Letang is 3 inches shorter than Max Pacioretty. Not an argument, but something that needs to be noted. Secondly, Letang looks up in Pacioretty’s direction and still decides to play the puck with his head down. Thirdly, Letang then leans forward (head down) and proceeds to shoot on net. Finally, Pacioretty finishes his hit and never at any point lifts his elbow or forearm in the direction of Letang’s head.
It’s fully understandable that the league wants to do away with any contact to the head, but when a player is leaning forward, knows that the ensuing hit is imminent, and continues to drive through the play, how can another player not be allowed to finish the hit?
Taking into account the three-inch height difference, which is extended due to the fact that the attacking player is lowering his height by leaning into his shot, makes it considerably harder to consider this an objectionable hit.
So while the NHL will most likely review the play on this hit, there will be no review on the referee’s neglect in blowing the whistle that allowed the overtime winner by Letang, after he returned to the ice – thankfully without serious injury.
It’s regretful that after such a tightly contested match, that the incompetence of a referee in a professional sports league, can cost points for one team, and award them for another.
As Carey Price placed his glove over the puck towards his left post, the referee who was on the far side, and clearly incapable of seeing the play, refused to blow the whistle to nullify continued play. In doing so, the puck was dug out from under Price’s glove, and the winning goal ensued.
NHL rules state that a referee that can no longer see the puck in play is required to whistle the play dead. It was clear tonight that the referee, on the far side of the play, could not see the puck and therefore should have called the play.
Even if the referee had a clear view of the puck, Price clearly had it under his glove hand, frozen, and the play should have been called.
Why are plays like this not reviewable in the NHL? What is the National Hockey League afraid of by opening up calls on the ice to review? We all know that referees are human and will make mistakes, but for the purity of the game, technology can add some assistance. Why it is being kept out of the game leaves me shaking my head.
If tennis – a sport that doesn’t even allow fan noise during a point – can adapt to today’s technology, then certainly the NHL can do likewise. Remember what happened to CFL side judge Rick Berezowski?
Tonight was a tough loss to swallow. I’m not saying that the Habs played a perfect sixty minutes of hockey, but they certainly deserved to win or lose this game on their own merit – or lack thereof.
Controversy will always have a place in sport, and tonight was no exception. The Canadiens can’t get the second point back in this particular case, but here’s hoping the NHL can at least get the Pacioretty / Letang incident right.