By now you’ve all read or heard about the magical clock at Staples Center. What shocks me is that no-one has identified the (in my opinion, quite obvious) culprit.
Quick: “It’s no secret that I have mind control.” – Jewels From The Crown
It had been suspected Jonathan Quick had supernatural powers after his inexplicable save against the last week, where the puck mysteriously changed direction and bounced away from an open net. Quick finally admitted it Wednesday in Vancouver. “It’s no secret that I have mind control,” Quick told the Vancouver Sun.
The‘ GM is hot on Quick’s trial, however.
“It is an amazing coincidence that with theon a power play at Staples Center and with a mad scramble around our net in the dying seconds of the third period of a 2-2 hockey game that the clock stopped for at least one full second,” Howson writes. “I can only think of two ways in which this would have happened. Either there was a deliberate stopping of the clock or the clock malfunctioned.”
Deliberate, yes, and supernatural.
I’m now going to shift gears and be serious. Seriously. I want to make several observations about the clock problem last night:
- “Something” happened.
- I agree with Howson that it’s either (1) deliberate, or (2) a malfunction.
- Either way, that sucks for Columbus, no question.
- I will laugh heartily if they end up with the first over-all pick because they are one point below the second worst team.
- Several times a season, each team in the league is the beneficiary or victim of missed calls (of which this clock problem is a subset). Every fan-base has a catalogue of the injustices. In general, most reasonable people agree that these things fall under the category “shit happens” and don’t go so far as to accuse anyone of being corrupt (though we do get regular doses of “the league wants Vancouver to fail” and/or “the refs in Montreal are homers”).
- I hear the league is “investigating.” I’m glad, because this is not something that can be shrugged off.
- I will parse Howson’s either/or a little finer. Either (1) there’s a problem with the equipment, (2) there was “pilot error”, i.e. the Official Timekeeper, a league official, accidentally caused the stoppage, (3) the Official Timekeeper, intentionally stopped the clock to allow the Kings time to score (or alternatively, to make sure the Blue Jackets get that first pick — yes, I am kidding, 99% kidding, mostly), (4) a Kings employee somehow “hacked” into the system or otherwise caused the stoppage, or (5) some other Kings partisan (i.e. a fan) somehow hacked in and caused the stoppage.
- Whatever happened, the league can and must figure out what occurred, because we all want the system to function, to be honest and reliable.
- If there’s a problem with the equipment (i.e. an innocent malfunction), that’s a glitch that must be identified and corrected. Because if it’s not, or if people think it’s not, that’s a vulnerability that people could exploit in the future. In other words, I do think there are people (especially fans, but also employees) who would mess with the clock if they could. Why not add a half a second to the beginning and end of every stoppage of your team’s power-play, or shave down your team’s penalties against? Who would notice? We watch those things on the rare occasion that the synchronized time-clock is on the screen during scoring chances at the ends of periods, but never during power plays or at any other time.
- I want the clock to be as precise as possible. Whatever happened benefited the Kings this time, but we all know it won’t next time. The Kings’ record with regard to such lucky/unlucky bounces is not good.
- In case you’re wondering, there is no over-turning the results of the game. The war room in Toronto, the officials on the ice, the Official Time Keeper and the Video Goal Judge all had an opportunity to determine whether that was a good goal. This obviously includes consulting the burned-in time-clock in the official replay. No-one noticed the malfunction (or problem, or whatever it was) and the goal was allowed to stand.
- That does not mean, however, that the league can’t determine what happened and fix it. Fix broken equipment; fire corrupt employees; discipline incompetence; file suit against fan/hackers. Whichever.
- Here’s the rulebook on the subject of the Official Timekeeper:
34.1 General Duties – The Game Timekeeper shall record the time of starting and finishing of each period in the game. During the game the Game Timekeeper will start the clock with the drop of the puck and stop the clock upon hearing the officials’ whistle or the scoring of a goal. [...]
34.6 Television – The Game Timekeeper is required to synchronize his timing device with the television producer of the originating broadcast.
34.7 Verification of Time - Any loss of time on the game or penalty clocks due to a false face-off must be replaced as appropriate. The Video Goal Judge may be consulted to ensure the time is accurately replaced. In the event of any dispute regarding time, the matter shall be referred to the Referees for adjudication and their decision shall be final. They may use the Video Goal Judge to assist in rendering their final decision. [...] The Game Timekeeper shall assist to verify game time using an additional timing device (League-approved stopwatch).
In the event that clock fails to operate when play resumes, the on-ice officials may elect to stop play provided there is no imminent scoring opportunity or wait until the next legitimate stoppage of play. In cooperation with the Game Timekeeper and the Video Goal Judge, the clock is to be re-set to the appropriate time. In the event that a video replay shows a goal was scored prior to the play being stopped, the Video Goal Judge will inform the Game Timekeeper and Official Scorer of the time of goal and the amount of playing time left to be reset on the game clock.
I’m curious about that “league-approved stopwatch”. How does the Official Timekeeper work that? How is it (or is it?) synchronized with the official clock?