We received two questions in the mailbag and several more @kfraserthecall on Twitter regarding a rather unusual but correct decision made by the officiating crew in the Calgary-Buffalo game on Tuesday night when Michael Frolik's goal was allowed to stand when referee Graham Skilliter lost sight of the puck and blew his whistle. We will likely see this situation take place over the course of the season so it is important I answer the following questions for clarification.
Good Evening Kerry:
During the first period of the Calgary vs Buffalo game, Calgary scored a goal in which the referee blew the whistle, then proceeded to wave no goal. After the ref crew talked it over, they allowed the goal. Can you explain the process here? I was always under the impression once the whistle was blown the the play was dead? Thanks for your thoughts!
I just want to question why the goal that was allowed in the Buffalo/Calgary game was not reviewed. Since one ref blew his whistle and waved the goal off, and then the ref's huddled and had a difference of opinion, shouldn't this have been looked at to determine when the whistle was blown. I understand the whistle shouldn't have blown, but it was, and my understanding is, when the whistle is blown or intent to blow, it stops the play at that point. Just wondering your thoughts.
First, I must note that Michael Frolik's legitimate goal was allowed to stand following a conference of the officiating crew as per their policy and procedure whenever their is a potential dispute. The dispute arose from the fact that referee Graham Skilliter lost sight of the puck from his position along the goal line toward the corner and believed the black disc to be frozen under the pads of Sabres goalie Robin Lehner.
Referee Brad Meier, positioned near the blue line and on the opposite side of the ice from his partner, had a clear sight line of the uncovered puck that sat exposed for play inside the crease to the left of Lehner. Once Frolik pounced on the loose puck and had released his shot as either Skilliter intended to blow his whistle or in fact had, the premature whistle had no bearing on the puck entering the net as part of a continuous play.
Secondly, all goals are reviewed by the Situation Room personnel and the referee is not permitted to drop the puck at center ice until he has received a "thumbs up" from the Penalty Timekeeper. As such, Video Review looked at the play and agreed with the crews decision on the ice that the premature whistle had no bearing on the puck entering the net. It could also be reasonably argued that the puck had already crossed the goal line when the sound of the whistle was detected on the replay.
In the best interest of the game, with an attempt to get plays of this nature ruled upon correctly; namely allowing legitimate goals to stand when a premature whistle had no bearing on the outcome of the play, changes have been made in both the rule book and in policy.
To your point Chris, play can be deemed stopped with the referee's 'intent to blow the whistle'. This is found in rule 31.2: "As there is human factor involved in blowing the whistle to stop play, the Referee may deem the play to be stopped slightly prior to the whistle actually being blown. The fact that the puck may come loose or cross the goal line prior to the sound of the whistle has no bearing if the Referee has ruled that the play had been stopped prior to this happening."
A situation where this often applies is when the puck is underneath the goalie and being dug at by an attacking player(s) in a goal mouth scramble and dislodged just prior to the sound escaping from the Ref's whistle. Additionally, this might occur when the goalie has made a save and players crash the net or a 'blown tire' results in accidental contact with the goalie that knocks the puck loose and/or into the net. In both of these situations the Referee's 'intent to blow his whistle' prior to physically doing so can be applied to ruling the play dead!
Expanded video review capabilities were added in Rule 38.4 (viii) the season following an undetected puck struck the protective netting at Joe Louis Arena and rebounded directly off the back of LA goalkeeper Jonathan Quick and into the net. The goal tied the game in the final seconds of regulation play and the Wings ended up stealing two points over the Kings in an all important playoff race near the end of that season.
The rule amendment from 38.4 (viii) that is pertinent to the Frolik goal decision in Calgary and would allow the video review process to assist the Referees in determining the legitimacy of all potential goals reads as follows:
"This would include situations whereby the Referee stops play or is in the process of stopping the play because he has lost sight of the puck and it is subsequently determined by video review that the puck crosses (or has crossed) the goal line and enters the net as the culmination of a continuous play where the result was unaffected by the whistle (i.e., the timing of the whistle was irrelevant to the puck entering the net at the end of a continuous play.)
The Officials on the ice in Calgary arrived at this correct decision by way of their consultation to allow Frolik's goal to stand. It would have surely been confirmed by Video Review.