Jan 18, 2014; Detroit, MI, USA; Detroit Red Wings goalie Jimmy Howard (35) celebrates with defenseman Niklas Kronwall (55) after the game against the Los Angeles Kings at Joe Louis Arena. Detroit won 3-2 in a shoot-out. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

Unreviewable Calls: Will They Ever End?

It’s much like beating a dead horse. Every season, every playoff round, heck—almost every week there’s a new controversy in the NHL when it comes to a ruling on a play.

Everyone’s touched on it since Saturday night’s game against the Los Angeles Kings when Niklas Kronwall’s tying goal late in the third period hit the netting, bounced off Jonathan Quick’s back, and into the net.

It’s a non-reviewable play, so while the play should have been blown dead because the puck hit the out-of-play netting, not one referee saw this happen; they simply saw the puck end up in the back of the net after a few seconds of confusion wondering where the puck was.

Upon seeing a replay of the whole thing unfold where you distinctly see the puck hit the netting, I turned to my brothers and quoted from Seinfeld, “The spit then splashed off the wrist, Pauses—In mid-air, mind you—makes a left turn and lands on Newman’s left thigh.” The whole thing was so ludicrous. It obviously hit the netting and yet… the goal still counted.

It’s the first time it’s worked in the Red Wings’ favor, but it’s not the first time this has happened. Oh no. Not at all.

Let’s go back to February 29, 2008, a game that I am still bitter about.

I remember the date. I remember the play. I remember Mickey’s outrage. I remember being so angry that Mikael Samuelsson scored in this game. I remember it so well that any time there is a bad/questionable call in a game, that goal is mentioned to me by others. My brother mentioned it to me about ten seconds before Ken Daniels did on Saturday night.

Why has this game stuck with me for so long? Not just because it’s easy to remember the stupidity rather than the good in situations. Not just because my brother was at a concert that evening and wanted me to text him updates and I kept sending him texts in all caps.

I remember it because it’s a non-reviewable call. Everyone saw the puck hit the netting and bounce back in (at least the players did). And the San Jose Sharks kept playing like nothing happened. Lo and behold, the goal counted and the Red Wings lost that game. That was a bad month for the Red Wings—they went 4-8-2 in February.

In the words of Kent Brockman, “Ladies and gentlemen, there’s only one word for that: idiocy.”

And speaking of non-reviewable calls, let’s visit another one of my favorites: May 5, 2009

“Intent to blow” are three words that avid hockey fans despise. What the heck does that even mean? It’s a rule that leave it up to the discretion of each individual referee. That doesn’t seem like the smartest thing.

This one was infuriating at the time. Watching it now, disconnected from the emotional aspect of it, the whistle is obviously blown before the puck crosses the line. However, because the ref is on the opposite side of the net, he can’t see that the puck is still loose and not covered. So he blows the whistle, then the puck crosses the line–therefore, not a goal. Either it makes sense now that we’re separated from the scenario, or it’s happened so many times since then that we know what to expect for reasoning.

The call on the ice makes some sense, but in a fair world, this call would be reviewable. Sure, the call on the ice is that it’s not a goal because the ref had intended to blow the play dead. However, why can’t the league take three minutes of time to check upstairs and make a different/better call? Sending things to the war room in Toronto doesn’t take as long as it used to.

Funny enough, an intent to blow call actually worked for the Red Wings a few weeks ago against the Dallas Stars. But this season has been so darn crazy anyway, why wouldn’t things be a little backwards?

These two blown calls, along with far too many others around the league, have had sports writers, bloggers, and fans alike calling for a redux of the review system, a coach’s challenge card, something that will make these calls reviewable. The reason they aren’t reviewable now is because the league believed reviewing them would slow down the game. The technology has come a long way in the past decade—in the past five years, really—so that this kind of call would take ten minutes, tops.

Maybe someone will bring it up at the GM meetings. Until then, until we see actual change, let’s all agree that whether this happens for or against your own team, you won’t get on a bandwagon and start going at each others’ throats. These calls shouldn’t happen.

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