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There is no conspiracy against the Lightning



Regardless of what you thought about Friday night's two disallowed goals (whether the arbiters in Toronto got the calls right or wrong), the people making these decisions are trying to get it right.

I spent an evening with them in Toronto watching the process. I have spoken to them numerous times and am confident the league does not make calls to advance an agenda. If it does, why even play the games? I only mention this because I have gotten several e-mails since Friday night in which people are sure of the opposite.

This is what the league was considering:

On Mark Recchi's goal that the league determined was kicked in, Rule 49.2 states: "A goal cannot be scored by an attacking player who uses a distinct kicking motion to propel the puck into the net." As hockey ops chief Mike Murphy said Friday night, there are no exceptions. It doesn't matter if the kicking motion was intentional or not, a goal cannot be scored that way. The league overruled the on-ice officials and said Recchi made a distinct kicking motion. Recchi said he did not and Recchi was forceful in his condemnation of the call. It is a difference of opinion. It is not a plot.

As for Steven Stamkos' goal that was disallowed by the on-ice officials and upheld by a video review, rule 60.5 applies: "An apparent goal by an attacking player who strikes the puck with his stick carried above the height of the crossbar ... shall not be allowed. The determining factor is where the puck makes contact with the stick." The on-ice ruling was contact was made above the crossbar. Stamkos said he is 100 percent sure he made contact below. The league determined there was no conclusive evidence to overrule the on-ice decision. Again, whether or not you agree is one thing (and depending on what camera angle you looked at on replays, exactly where Stamkos struck the puck seemed to change), but nobody is saying, "It's the Lightning, let's screw them."

Perhaps the solution is to just allow pucks to be kicked in. That certainly would take away any evaluation that has to be done. I'm not sure I like that idea, though. It seems you continue diluting the game. We've already started down that path with the shootout.

The league has tried to take the guesswork out of the evaluation process with its policy of no exceptions. In that way, intent does not have to be considered when watching these replays.

On the other hand (and I admit I'm just playing devil's advocate here), Recchi had been cross-checked and his stick had been held just prior to scoring the goal. So, give the guy credit for hanging in there. The point, though, is, how much did his jostling and fighting for position contribute to his forward motion as the puck hit his shin pad and then his skate? Murphy said his people do not factor that into the equation because the goal review process only looks at how a puck did or did not pass the goal line.

So, differ in your opinions as to what you saw and how Toronto interpreted it, but, please, let's just leave the debate at that.

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


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