The Memorial Cup is on NHL Network. It’s the Edmonton Oil Kings playing host Shawinigan. Third period. There’s a scramble in the Oil King crease, the puck ends up in the net, the horn blows, the crowd goes wild, the ref (Nicola D’Etille? almost certainly spelled wrong) signals the play is dead. The crowd boos, the ref goes to the phone to talk to video review.
The announcers say the ref signaled “no goal.” What he signaled — by putting his hands up — was that the play was over. He did not signal goal or no goal.
The entire conversation between the ref and the video goal judge is broadcast as it happens. Oh, how I wish the NHL did this. Here’s the conversation:
REF: I did not see the puck crossing the line, so I just want to know if the puck crossed the line.
VIDEO GOAL JUDGE (VGJ): The puck did cross the line. Just stand by here, now, we’re having a look.
VGJ: (to someone in the booth:) He wants to know if the puck crossed the line. I told him it crossed the line. (to ref): The thing is, the puck is over the goal line, without any question, but it was when you blew your whistle at the time.
REF: Okay. But at the time that I blew the whistle I didn’t see the puck crossing the line.
REF: I didn’t see the puck crossing the line.
VGJ: The puck is in the net. It definitely crossed the line.
REF: Okay, so –
VGJ: It’s a matter of whether you ended up blowing your whistle before the puck crossed the line. That’s the only thing in question.
REF: Okay so I didn’t blow the whistle before the puck crossed the line.
VGJ: You did not?
VGJ: The puck is in the net.
REF: So I just wanted to know if the puck crossed the line or not.
REF: Okay, so that’s a goal?
VGJ: The puck is in the net, yes. It’s over the line.
REF: So, good goal.
REF: [indecipherable] – a goal?
VGJ: Yes. We go with your on ice call. We go with your on ice call.
REF: Okay. That’s a goal.
The ref — I gather from his accent — is a native French speaker. The video goal judge is not. They are speaking in English, and the entire time it sounds to me like they are talking past each other. The ref indicates that he blew the whistle and that he never saw the puck cross the line. I can’t tell if he means he didn’t see it cross the line before he blew the whistle or if he didn’t see the puck in the net ever. Since the latter makes no sense, I lean toward the former. But he asks if the puck crossed the line, not bringing up the issue of before/after the whistle. The video goal judge raises the issue several times, but the ref — who didn’t see the puck cross the goal line, and did eventually blow the whistle — only wants to know if the puck crossed the line ever.
The most unsettling part of the exchange is the end where the ref asks the video goal judge if it’s a good goal, essentially, three times, as if it’s the video goal judge’s decision, and the video goal judge answers that the puck crossed the line, at that point dropping the whole issue of when the ref blew the whistle.
And then the video goal judge says “we go with your on ice call” as if the ref signaled it was a goal on the ice, which — as far as I can tell — he did not. Certainly at no time in their conversation did the ref say that he signaled goal on the ice, and in fact, the only thing he said definitively is that he never saw the puck cross the line. If he never saw the puck cross the line, how could the video goal judge think that the call on the ice was “good goal”?
All this, in the third period of a Memorial Cup game, with the score 3-1. 3-2 after the goal that the ref never saw was allowed to stand.
My fear is that this is what goes on in NHL games all the time. It would explain a lot.