February 03, 2011
TSN2 debuted a new program called "That's Hockey 2Nite" this week featuring our old pal Steve Kouleas and purveyor of occasionally erroneous Buffalo Sabres gossip Matthew Barnaby.
Also featured on the show: Former NHL referee Kerry Fraser, using his zebra experience to analyze controversial players much like the former football ref on FOX during the NFL season. One of his first cases? The "no-goal" controversy between the Detroit Red Wings and Ottawa Senators last night:
Here's the play in question again from last night:
Fraser's analysis is, alas, fuel for his critics. Go ahead, cite the rulebook, and ignore reality: Chris Neil(notes) lands on Jimmy Howard's(notes) pad as the puck is already over the goal line. "It was under him and he was pushed into the goal" is fiction. It didn't happen. If Kevin Pollock thought he saw the goalie being pushed into the net, then he blew the call.
Are we going to hear that level of honesty from Fraser in this segment? Of course not.
The real issue is this, as we discussed last night: Fraser and others claim it's an "Intent To Blow" ruling. Pollack, in his denouncement, makes no reference to the play being dead; merely to the goalie being shoved into the net with the puck under him. Is this just some communication breakdown? Why isn't the ruling simply, "The play was dead before the puck crossed the line?"
This comes back to the same clarion call for the NHL's video review system: Transparency. Transparency, transparency, transparency. Pull back the curtains, let us see the decision-making process. End the accusations of bias in the War Room. End these moments in which several different rules should apply but the one that's been chosen to enforce doesn't actually apply.
Like so many other things, HBO spoiled us with a glimpse into the video review process. It was enlightening. The current system has the opposite effect.