Last night the Hurricanes were tied with the Pittsburgh Penguins 3-3 in the third period when a rather confusing set of events took place. With 9:19 left in the period, referee Greg Kimmerly blew his whistle, seemingly because the puck had disappeared beneath Justin Peters pads after a shot by Chris Kunitz.
After the play was whistled dead, Peters was forced into the net by his own defenseman Jay Harrison and the puck slid over the line and into the goal. However, we all know that the rule in the NHL is that the play is dead once the whistle is blown. Moreover, the play is dead when the referee has the intent to whistle, which is in itself, a bit of a headache for us fans.
So, the play is whistled dead and the referee is not pointing at the goal, but the Penguins argue that the puck went over the line. That’s fine, it’s what you’re supposed to do; fight for every break you can get. But, the whistle was blown before the puck went in, which means the intent to whistle was clearly moments earlier, which means undisputedly “No-Goal”, right?
After an earful from Penguins captain Sidney Crosby, Referee Greg Kimmerly proceeded to head to the phones and the play was under review. After all, the goal couldn’t be under review because it wasn’t a goal at all. The whistle blew the play dead. Yet, after ten minutes of reviewing the play in Toronto, Greg Kimmerly received word and returned with a dramatic call, “Upon video review… we have a good goal.” Consol Energy Center was ecstatic and the Penguins had a 4-3 lead midway through the 3rd.
This was the conversation from the Penguins own announcers:
“The puck was over the line.”
“Yeah, but it was after the whistle.”
“Well, the audio doesn’t lie.”
Even as Kimmerly got ready to announce the decision, Pens announcer Paul Steigerwald remarked that he couldn’t be looking forward to making the call. Yet, if you watch the call, it’s almost as if Kimmerly relished making the decision, pausing dramatically before giving the Pittsburgh fans their gift; a bogus call.
Nothing against the Pens fans. They didn’t make that terrible call.
From Canes Country, this is the NHL’s explanation of the call from Mike Murphy:
“Greg Kimmerly, the referee, initiated the review. He asked us if the puck entered the net in a legal fashion. There was no kick, and there was no glove. I can’t apply anything about blowing a whistle, unless it is clearly well after the whistle. The only thing I can determine is whether the puck crossed the goal line legally – in a proper fashion. After that, it is simply the referee’s call on the ice.”
All they can review is whether the puck crossed the line in legal fashion, which it did. They can’t apply anything about the whistle, which Kimmerly has to do by himself on the ice. Kimmerly did that initially, shaking his head no goal. However, after a solid swath of boos and jawing from Crosby, Kimmerly caved under the hometown pressure and decided to divert the blame to Toronto. But since the NHL won’t apply anything about the whistle, it was a good goal.
This shouldn’t happen. For what reason did Kimmerly blow his whistle? To stop the play then make a decision about what happened? That’s not how it’s supposed to work. The call should initiate the whistle, the whistle shouldn’t stop the play so the ref can make a call. Can you imagine if the refs could just blow their whistle to stop the play, then think about what to do for ten minutes before making a call?
This was a failure by NHL officials on several levels. It was a failure by Greg Kimmerly to stand by his call on the ice, which was clear to everyone including the Pens announcers. It was a failure by Kimmerly to communicate the correct information to Toronto. He asked, “Did the puck enter in a legal fashion,” and not, “Did it enter after the whistle,” which was a decision he had already made, then questioned. Finally, it was a failure of the NHL review process to include all of the elements that are present on the ice into the process, including sound and the intent to whistle.
All of this because a referee couldn’t explain or stand by his decision to blow the whistle in the first place.
About the Author
Written by Eric Cooney
Eric Cooney was born in Pennsylvania, grew up in North Carolina, and lives in Los Angeles, CA. He shares his thoughts on the NHL as one man who is a northerner, southerner, east coaster, and west coaster. Follow him on Twitter @EricCooney