Breaking Down the Marian Hossa Goal

Last night, the Chicago Blackhawks and St. Louis Blues played in a game that mattered to more than just the two teams involved. The win by the Blackhawks ultimately eliminated the Calgary Flames from playoff contention, and puts them potentially out of reach for the Dallas Stars. The Hawks were losing 2-0 to the Blues, when a controversial goal by forward Marian Hossa brought them to within one, and eventually led to them winning in overtime. After the break, I’ll offer my analysis of both the goal and the state of the NHL’s review system in a somewhat unique way for this blog.

I should start by saying that DesigNate Robertson is my favorite non-hockey blog. He is a Detroit Tigers blogger, and though incredibly juvenile in taste, actually offers some very insightful commentary more often than not, beneath all the toilet jokes.

DNR has a style of writing he uses occasionally, borrowed from another blog called Fire Joe Morgan, where he presents an article written by another author, and then breaks it down into pieces offering his insight along the way. This is something I am considering incorporating into the rotation here at The Off Wing View, so let me know what you think of it.

The article in question here is one available at KuklasKorner, one of the best hockey blog conglomerates around. It was written by Elliotte Friedman of CBC, who you can contact on Twitter.

His words are in bold, mine are not. Enjoy.

Here’s Marian Hossa’s goal from last night, which resuscitated the Chicago Blackhawks when they were down 2-0 to the St. Louis Blues and looking lost.

If you haven’t yet seen the goal, please take a minute or two to do so, otherwise you will be lost going forward.

Here’s what I don’t believe: Conspiracy theories.

Honestly, I never did either. Yeah, it’s fun to have something to blame when things don’t go your team’s way, and the way some games are called against the Wings, it really does seem like the referees and NHL are out to get them. Especially certain players (Tomas Holmstrom). But honestly, it does not make sense for the league to be conspiring to fix outcomes of games.

Not for a second will anyone convince me that the people in the NHL war room were sitting there watching and saying, “Boy, we’ve got to make this Marian Hossa goal count. The Blackhawks play in the NHL’s third-largest market and we’ve got to get them into the playoffs.”

But then again, look at what happened in the NBA with referee Tim Donaghy, who was caught fixing playoff game results, apparently acting on orders of the NBA league office.

Is it really that hard to believe that the NHL could be victim of this to? I know we would all like to think that those in charge of our beloved sport would not stoop so low. I personally thought that our league was above that.

And then the Colin Campbell e-mails emerged, and well…color me skeptical of the league’s supposed “fairness”. The e-mails by Campbell, in no uncertain terms, demonstrated his dislike for Marc Savard of the Boston Bruins, as well as a distinct favoritism for his son Gregory. The e-mails he sent to then director of officiating Steven Walkom implored Walkom to discipline referees who called penalties against his son.

The league could have easily remedied this problem by immediately removing Campbell of his position, but they chose to back the cheater rather than show any kind of spine. And for that reason, consider me on the tin foil hat bandwagon.

Here’s what I do believe:

1. No referee wants to make the wrong call. Dan O’Halloran ruled it a goal because he honestly thought it was a goal. The best referees die inside when they err, especially in a critical situation. Brad Watson blew one in the Anaheim-Detroit playoff series two years ago and it took him a year to get over it.

I can personally vouch for this, because I know that as a referee I have beaten myself up over missed calls made in minor league games between 10 year olds. I can only imagine the stress you’d place on yourself after blowing an important call in the NHL playoffs.

However, this does not address the issue of referees who could be on the take, or a War Room in Toronto full of people under orders to fix outcomes of certain games in favor of certain teams.

2. Replay is important. It should be about getting the call right. That’s it. And after watching that last night, the system doesn’t work. There’s no other way to put it.

Could not agree more. The system is broken, and the NHL isn’t really taking any steps to fix it. Why is it that if we aren’t able to make a determination that the puck entered the net legally, or at all, that we revert to the ruling of the on-ice official? Shouldn’t the review system override the official, and make whatever is the best ruling they can?

In the case of the Hossa goal, the best ruling they could have made was no goal, since in no available replay can you see the puck cross the goal line. The last image we have of the puck sees it laying on the line, and then it is smothered there by Ty Conklin’s gloved hand.

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But because referee Dan O’Halloran apparently saw it cross the line, we have to go with that? O’Halloran is mighty familiar to Red Wings fans for his numerous no-goal calls against Tomas Holmstrom, plays in which no goaltender interference ever actually occurred.

Let’s just look at it this way: How much was on the line with that call?

What’s a home playoff date worth in Chicago, Calgary and Dallas? How much money does Chicago make or Dallas-Calgary lose in playoff revenue?

What about season-ticket renewals, which are usually higher when a team makes the playoffs? Are there any jobs on the line that could be affected by a playoff berth?

My point exactly. Officiating should not determine the outcome of a game, ever. It especially should not determine multiple teams playoff fates.

If you think the Blues were angry, imagine the Flames and Stars.

I can only imagine, because as a neutral observer I’m pretty ticked off that the goal was allowed to stand.

I’m a big believer that everything evens out – the Ducks got away with one last week in Calgary and lost two against Dallas.

Karma, or whatever other fancy word you want to call it, does not exist. Not in a scientific sense at least. There’s no way you can say that this will even itself out eventually, because the only thing that determines the outcomes of the game is what is happening on the ice, not some mystical force operating outside of our control.

And what good will it do if it does even out anyway? That goal, and the Blackhawks eventual win, eliminated the Flames from playoff contention. It doesn’t help them any if on Friday against Detroit the Hawks have a good goal called back.

But the league must make sure the on- and off-ice officials have the best possible system to make the best possible decision.

Yes, and currently we don’t.

If anything good comes from this, it will be a change in the current system.

I’m hopeful, though not optimistic, that this will be the case. The NHL is more than happy to keep the status quo, rather than change things to take responsibility away from it’s officials.

Many times, we excuse referees for missing a call by saying the game is too fast. And you know what? That’s fair. The games is fast, even for two referees.

That’s why it’s so hard to understand why, if the war room determines replays to be inconclusive, the call reverts back to the ice. O’Halloran doesn’t have a monitor to watch the replays. If Colin Campbell, Mike Murphy and Co. can’t tell if it’s a goal reviewing five angles in slo-mo, it’s not a goal.

Exactly. I know there have been times in my reffing career where I wished I had another look at a call, but in the NHL they have that luxury. Why not take that extra look to make sure we’ve got it right? And once we’ve decided to take that second look, it should completely wash out the referee on the ice. Whatever the War Room sees should be the ruling. That way, those of us watching at home on our HD-TVs can see the right call is being made, rather than the War Room going along with an apparently wrong ruling.

Let pictures determine the call. And if the pictures say inconclusive, it shouldn’t matter what the referee originally ruled.

It’s not about embarrassing anyone. It’s about making the best possible decision, which is the fairest way to treat everyone involved.

I think most referees would welcome a change whereby the War Room takes on more responsibility in calling the games. It’s not fun being booed, especially when you only get one look at the play and have to make a ruling on it. Let the War Room take 20 looks at it from 5 different angles and speeds, so we know that we are getting the right call. I wouldn’t be embarrassed if a replay was able to overturn my call. Rather, I’d be happy that the right call was (eventually) made, so that no teams were cheated.

And for those who are saying it will take the “flow” out of the game to be constantly stopping the game to review every little thing, just stop it. Are you really saying that you wouldn’t sacrifice a few minutes of your time to make sure that the play on the ice was what determined the outcome, rather than a potentially wrong ruling by a referee?

I know the players want the right calls to be made, and I’m certain that they wouldn’t mind the break, especially in situations where a goal could be involved.

Right now, that system is not in place in the NHL.

Amen.

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7 thoughts on “Breaking Down the Marian Hossa Goal”

  1. One thing, I don’t think you mentioned, he also kicked it in! I think that kicking it in should be OK by the way, that takes some skill. But the rule says it isn’t allowed. He kicked it, and took a swing & missed with his stick. And it never crossed the line. Ridiculous.

    • Thanks for the comment. The reason I didn’t address the the kick is that some believe that it hit his stick after he kicked it, and I didn’t feel like addressing that situation, I was speaking more to the broken review system

      • I agree fully. The review system is awful. The fact that some guys in Toronto have to look at it almost turns each review into a political exercise.

  2. Thanks for posting this article. I am definitely tired of struggling to find relevant and intelligent commentary on this subject. Everyone nowadays goes to the very far extremes to either drive home their viewpoint of that everybody else in the globe is wrong. Thanks for your consise and relevant insight.

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