Why didn't they stop play?
That is what people in the Lightning locker room wanted to know on Monday. Why didn't the officials during Saturday's Lightning-Senators game, stop play with 58 seconds left when Marty St. Louis was cut by the skate of a linesman.
Tampa Bay GM Brian Lawton wondered, too, and he spoke to referees Wes McCauley and Brad Meier after the game, and coach Rick Tocchet said, "It would be nice for someone to come out and say, 'Hey, listen, we made a mistake on this.' ''
But did the refs get it wrong?
It was a critical point in the game. Tampa Bay was down 1-0 with a faceoff in the Ottawa end. St. Louis leaned in to try to get the puck after a faceoff but was cut when linesman Derek Amell kicked up his heels and stumbled a bit trying to get out of the way after a faceoff.. As St. Louis, bloodied, skated to the bench, the Senators scored into an empty net.
Mike Murphy, director of the league's hockey operations, said the officials handled the situation "in a very professional fashion."
Murphy cited Rule 8, which states a game cannot be stopped until an injured player's team secures possession of the puck. And it is true, the Senators gained control. But the rule also states a game can be stopped if it is "obvious a player has sustained a serious injury.
Said Murphy: I'll bet nobody knew Marty was even cut despite the fact he was bleeding profusely because everybody's back was to him and they were all watching the puck and the situation. ... They probably saw him out of the corner of their eye as he's heading to the bench. 'Boy, he's cut, what happened there?' "
I'll give you this. I was at the game and didn't realize St. Louis was cut until he was at the bench and threw off his helmet. That's why this by Murphy makes some sense: "If a player lays on the ice, they'll kill a play. The moment a player gets up and heads off himself, it's game on."
The whole situation was too bad for Tampa Bay, but I don't believe the refs blew it as much as were not as aware, perhaps as much as they should have been, but I don't know, about what was going on.
As for St. Louis, he said the injury didn't hurt and wasn't quite sure how badly he was cut. What he did know what, "I felt like my whole forehead was split open."
He wore a visor in practice but it is unclear whether he will wear one in Thursday's game, calling it a "personal decision," he didn't want to talk about. He also said the linesman who cut him called him and apologized. He only needed eight stitches to close the gash that went from his forehead across the bridge of his nose because half was closed by Dermabond glue.
As for where he was cut, basically right between the eyes, trainer Tommy Mulligan said, "He was really lucky. ... A half inch to the right, a half inch to the left, and we're dealing with a much more serious problem."