By Damian Cristodero
Times Staff Writer
Lightning center Steven Stamkos said he is not exactly sure what the rule is concerning a referee helping a player in distress. But he said he knows the Penguins bench "was losing its mind" when it saw during Saturday night's game at the Tampa Bay Times Forum referee Gord Dwyer give Stamkos a push toward the bench late in the third period.
Seems Stamkos's left skate blade had come dislodged from its plastic anchor. Stamkos, who was having trouble even standing on one skate, was on the other side of the ice and diagonal from Tampa Bay's bench when Dwyer offered assistance.
"I couldn't actually move," Stamkos said Tuesday, reliving the odd moment. "The ref saw I couldn't move. He said, 'Do you want a little push?' I was like, 'Sure.' I still don't know what the rule is. I know the Pittsburgh bench was losing its mind and we ended up scoring, too."
In fact, Stamkos' replacement once he got to the bench — center Tyler Johnson — got the second assist on Alex Killorn's goal that tied the game 4-4 with 3:02 left in the third period. Pittsburgh would win 5-4 on Matt Niskanen's power-play goal with 18.6 seconds left.
You can watch the video of Stamkos here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-GQGlRuS-4Y
"I'm sure if we ended up winning the game it would have been a little more (of a big deal)," Stamkos said.
Penguins coach Dan Bylsma mentioned it briefly at his postgame meeting with reporters, simply saying he had never seen anything like it.
Former NHL referee Kerry Fraser, an analyst for Canada's TSN web site, wrote that there is no specific rule governing such a circumstance.
"The ref's human instinct here was to assist a player that was placed in harm's way once he witnessed Steven Stamkos slip, slide and stumble toward a potential groin injury (or worse) some 100 feet from his bench," Fraser wrote. "This wasn't 'star treatment' that was being extended by Dwyer, but legitimate concern for a player's well-being. The courtesy of providing two strides and a shove by the Ref was creative and would have been done for all the right reasons."
Said Stamkos: "I had never been in a situation like that before. I don't know if they can help you get off the ice, but I was thankful in that situation. He saw my blade there and said, 'I'll give you a push off the ice.' Just a weird situation."