November 19, 2009
Remember when the Detroit Red Wings were royally screwed in last year's Western Conference semifinals against the Anaheim Ducks, when referee Brad Watson waived off a Marian Hossa(notes) goal with one of the worst examples of the "intent to blow" rule in recent NHL history?
Here's a fun parlor game: See how many Red Wings you can name in the time between seeing the puck cross the line and the whistle blowing. Our record is four, and one of them was "Henrik Zetterberg." From Puck Buddy Dustin:
Possibly the worst. Call. Ever. In tonight's Stars-Wings game, midway through the third, Brad May(notes) got a clear goal called back on the old "intent to blow the whistle" rule... only problem is the puck was never in any position where the whistle should have been blown and the sound of the whistle happened about four seconds after the puck crossed the line. Cost the Wings what would have been the game tying goal at the time.
Detroit lost the game to Dallas, 3-1. Wings Coach Mike Babcock on the no-goal, to the Windsor Star: "The guy never meant to blow the whistle ... It was a shot. It was in on the shot. It's as dumb as I've ever seen."
Last postseason, the NHL defended the Watson call and offered an official on-the-record explanation to the media; one hopes they attempt to do the same here, although it would be defending the indefensible. Again, the "intent to blow" rule is one of the most asinine in professional hockey; the notion of "playing to the whistle" is undercut by referees ending plays in their minds before actually blowing them dead. This Detroit farce is, perhaps, the most rancid example of its folly.
Beyond Detroit losing a goal, the worst thing about this situation is that it'll provide further fodder for the tin foil hat society among Wings fans, who are convinced that Gary Bettman and the NHL and the Illuminati and the Stonecutters are all conspiring in some secret cabal to undermine their franchise. Because what business would want one of its most popular, ratings-driving, star-studded franchises to, you know, succeed?