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NHL's Murphy explains penalty shot review



What was most interesting about the e-mail exchange I had with NHL hockey ops chief Mike Murphy was his admission that had referee Rob Martell called Steve Stamkos' penalty shot a goal in the third period of Tuesday's game with the Thrashers, that call would have stood. That is because the same inconclusive video Murphy and his crew watched in the league office in Toronto that did not overturn Martell's no-goal call, would not have overturned the call of a good goal, either.

"Yes," Murphy said, "if the ref calls it a goal, it would have stood."

You recall the situation. Stamkos in his first-career NHL penalty shot looked as if he had goaltender Kari Lehtonen beat. But Lehtonen lunged and gloved the shot. Replays showed Lehtonen's glove past the goal line, but the puck was hidden. Because, as Murphy said, "I have not seen any video than can prove it was a goal, the whole puck over the line, " the on-ice ruling stood and Atlanta kept its 2-1 lead en route to a 3-1 victory.

"My comment is, it's a goal," coach Rick Tocchet said after seeing newspaper photos that seemed to indicate the puck was past the line. "Sometimes (the league) gets it right. Sometimes they get it wrong."

Said Murphy: "We make our decision based on the camera angles and information we have at the time of the play. Everyone seems to love to produce still photos the next day, trying to prove hockey operations wrong. Again, we make our decision with the information we have at the time of the review."

It is worth revisiting, at this point, a story I did after Tampa Bay lost two goals to video review during a Jan. 30 game against the Flyers. Then, the killer play was an apparent goal that went in off Mark Recchi's foot that was ruled a good goal on the ice but overturned by NHL review.

After the game, defenseman Steve Eminger said he would rather the referees not make a call of a good or not-good goal "on impulse." Rather, he would like to see the refs not make a determination if they are not sure and go straight to a video review. In that way, the hurdle of conclusive proof, which must now be met to overturn an on-ice call, does not have to be met when determining if a puck did or did not cross the goal line. It would, as Eminger said, allow a little common sense into the debate.

Personally, I like that approach. It takes some of the onus off the referees to make a snap decision that might or might not be wrong, and it takes away the too-high burden of conclusive proof for the video review.

I'm sure this topic will come around again at some point. In the meantime, let's not get bogged down on how Tampa Bay was robbed against the Thrashers. The Lightning should never have been in that situation to begin with against such a poor team.

More than the disallowed penalty shot, you should be complaining about the 0-for-5 power play that had 55 seconds of five-on-three time but could not score and is now on a 0-for-15 streak. You should be complaining about nine goals in a six-game stretch in which the Lightning is 1-4-1 and played itself out of the playoff race.

The disallowed penalty shot didn't lose that game for the Lightning. The "disinterested" players, as Tocchet called them, took care of that themselves.      

[Last modified: Sunday, August 16, 2009 4:38pm]


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