It’s painfully obvious the NHL hasn’t figured out what constitutes goaltender interference and what doesn’t – the latest embarrassing and somewhat outrageous exhibit of evidence coming Thursday in the Edmonton Oilers 4-3 shootout win over the Calgary Flames at Rogers Place. The interpretation game continues.
It was stunning, to say the very least, to see what looked like the winning goal by Ryan Strome in overtime called back after referee Kendrick Nicholson huddled with the NHL situation room and it was ruled that Connor McDavid’s incidental contact with Calgary goaltender David Rittich meant the goal would not count. Huh?
If you haven’t seen the play, watch it and tell me how that play, in which McDavid contacts Rittich’s stick while cutting through the crease on a shot attempt, constitutes goaltender interference and Ryan Kesler laying on Cam Talbot and prying his legs apart during the last spring’s playoff series against Anaheim does not. I’m confused. Players are confused. I’m not the least bit convinced the NHL has a firm grip on it either.
That final call, by the way, is Nicholson’s to make. While he can huddle for input with the NHL situation room on the headset, it’s ultimately his call. Yet, after clearly signaling a good goal – Nicholson was behind the goal line as McDavid cut through the crease and had circled behind the net by the time Strome banged the puck into the net – he changed his call.
“After video review at the situation room in Toronto, it was determined there was goaltender interference. We have no goal,” said Nicholson, who must have heard a pretty compelling earful on the headset to reverse his call. I’d like to think this ongoing mess will be addressed when NHL governors squeeze in some meetings around dinner, golf and drinks in Florida this weekend. Something has to give. Something has to change, and soon. This, like the offside schmozzle, just isn’t good enough.
Nicholson and partner Steve Kozari compounded a miserably bad night’s work after McDavid deftly tucked home the winner in the shootout by issuing him an abuse of officials penalty. A fired up McDavid showed the zebras up when he motioned upward and suggested that they check upstairs to make sure his goal was good.
“It is frustrating but ultimately, like I always say, I’m always trying to defend the refs,” said McDavid, who doesn’t beef about officiating nearly as much as he could. “I feel like I’m always good to the refs and I try not to do stuff like I did tonight. Hopefully they aren’t too upset at me.”
I’ve got no problem with McDavid showing some emotion, given the bungled decision that transpired in OT before he won it in the shootout. Abuse of officials? The way the NHL has handled this goaltender interference business since the start has been an abuse of common sense.
NO SOUP FOR YOU
As an aside, that goaltender interference call was, according to somebody who texted into the Oilers Now show on 630 CHED with Bob Stauffer today, the 14th consecutive video review that has gone against the Oilers dating back to the stiffing they took against the Ducks in the playoffs last spring.
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