There’s a lot going around concerning Hanzal’s controversial game-winning, momentum swinging, mind-boggling, high-stick goal. The general consensus is that it was a bad call by both the referee on the ice and the war room in Toronto.
I just want to share some things on the call, making sure I separate my feelings from the facts themselves.
FEELING: Phoenix played a good game and earned that win. Their penalty kill was solid and Bryzgalov was a wall.
FACT: Even the goal-scorer himself Martin Hanzal didn’t think it was a goal. Not to mention teammate and noted jokester Ray Whitney who, when asked if he thought it was a good goal, broke into a wry smile and laughed, saying he felt the puck was “level” with the crossbar.
FEELING: The Kings actually played a good game. They had way more chances than Phoenix and didn’t really give the Coyotes much. The only gaffe was on Stempniak’s goal, but it felt like a game the Kings could win. If you flip a coin 100 times, the odds are that it will come up heads 50 times and tails 50 times. Right now, when the Kings are playing bad they lose, and when they’re playing well they lose. It’s coming up tails 100 times.
FACT: A loss is a loss and going 0 for way-too-many chances on the power play is unacceptable. Champions face this type of adversity and win. The Kings are faltering in the face of such adversity.
FACT: The NHL is groundbreaking in its use of video-review technology to uphold or change crucial calls during a game.
FEELING: The way the league uses video-review technology is remedial and benign. How the league can be so resolute to call a play a high-stick (Smyth’s last second goal vs. Ottawa) and on a play that everyone and their dog can see is a high-stick they say is inconclusive, makes the video-review process look like a joke. Why even send it to Toronto if all they can do is scratch their domes and say, “Meh, I can’t really tell. Just go with what the zebra said”? Martin Hanzal is 6’6″ with skates on, he hits the puck at shoulder height, and that’s not a high-stick?! Where did deductive reasoning go?
Why not install cameras on the crossbars with hash-marks burned into the frame so we can see, conclusively, whether a puck is high or not? I know people feel like that might slow down the game, but think about it; if they’re going to spend 15 minutes banging their gourds together in the war room, why not build a process that they can just look at and say, “Yup, that’s a high-stick. The puck is above the hash-mark on the frame”?
FEELING: I doubt there is any conspiracy by Mike Murphy against the Kings for losing out to Lombardi for a GM job. Animosity, yes. Conspiracy, doubtful.
FACT: The league needs to count its lucky stars that this call came during a mid-season game between the Los Angeles Kings and the Phoenix Coyotes. If it were a call made in the Stanley Cup Final between Vancouver and Montreal, you better believe there would be a riot. It would be 100 times worse than the backlash from Brett Hull’s “skate in the crease” call, because at least then the league had a good explanation.
This call shows a lack of vision by the ref, a lack of decisiveness by the war room, and the lack of the ability to admit they made the wrong call by the league.
Next game, please.
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