The Referees Gifted the Penguins the Stanley Cup

By Ben Sundock
Jun. 14, 2017

As you all probably know, I am a diehard Nashville Predators fan.

So it shouldn't be a surprise that I am pretty angry at the officiating from the Stanley Cup Final series. To be perfectly honest, the officiating throughout the post season was absolutely horrendous. The NHL needs to address this issue before the beginning of the 2017/2018 season or this league will be a huge joke.

Now to specifically criticize the officiating in the Final, buckle in for this one.

Game 1: P.K. Subban's Goal is Called Off After Review

I have never felt so wronged by a decision ever in my life. In Game 1 in Pittsburgh, the Predators came out flying with great pressure and lots of shots on goal. With 13 minutes remaining in the opening period after a sustained attack lasting nearly 20 seconds, P.K. Subban scored on a wrist shot from just inside the blue line to put the Preds ahead.

Or so we thought.

Pittsburgh challenged that Filip Forsberg had entered the zone offside ahead of the eventual Subban goal. After a review that lasted nearly 5 minutes, somehow, the NHL officials in Toronto were able to overturn the call on the ice and rule it offside.

Here's a picture of the "offside."

Now according to Rule 77 of the NHL officials rulebook (it didn't seem like one existed for much of the six game series), a player may have one foot across the blue line but must keep his skate planted on the ice behind the blue line before entering the zone with the puck.

It was ruled through this exact camera angle and shot that Forsberg's right skate was in the air, off the ice, when he brought the puck into the attacking zone.

If you the reader can clearly tell me that Forsberg's skate was in the air and have indisputable video proof, I might believe it. But really? This is offside?

The play was not called offside and 20 seconds after Forsberg brought the puck in the zone, Subban scored.

Had the call on the ice been offside to begin with, fine. But how in the world can this be overturned from being onside to offside?!

I find it quite odd that not three hours before the Final began, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman praised his league's rule on the offside, “We hear the commentary, Well, it was just off-sides by a little bit. His skate was in the air,Bettman said. “The fact of the matter is, it’s our job to make sure the rules are complied with, and the video replay through the Coach’s Challenge on offsides has worked exactly as we hoped it would. The rule is the rule. We enforce it.”

I don't want to call it a conspiracy, but I'm calling it a conspiracy.

Game 6: Colton Sissons Goal Waved Off After Referee Loses Sight of Puck

Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports
Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

This one really, really, really makes me angry because the call was so wrong. In Game 6 in Nashville, with the Predators down 3 games to 2, it looked like Colton Sissons made a great play to poke home a loose puck that Matt Murray had lost.

The initial Filip Forsberg shot went to the glove side of Murray who thought he had grabbed it and held on but in fact had only deflected the puck through the crease.

Here's a video of the play:

I understand that the angle the official was looking at the play made it hard to see where the puck was but really? Why blow the whistle that fast?

Murray never had possession of the puck and didn't stop the puck for even a second, he simply deflected the shot. To further my complaint, why was there no review of the play?

The commentators said there was nothing that could be done and a review wasn't possible but again, looking at the NHL RULEBOOK, it clearly states that an early whistle play can be reviewed.

Here’s rule 38.4 (viii) states as follows:

“The video review process shall be permitted to assist the Referees in determining the legitimacy of all potential goals (e.g. to ensure they are “good hockey goals”). For example (but not limited to), pucks that enter the net by going through the net meshing, pucks that enter the net from underneath the net frame, pucks that hit the spectator netting prior to being directed immediately into the goal, pucks that enter the net undetected by the Referee, etc. This would also include situations whereby the Referee stops play or is in the process of stopping the play because he has lost sight of the puck and it is subsequently determined by video review that the puck crosses (or has crossed) the goal line and enters the net as the culmination of a continuous play where the result was unaffected by the whistle (i.e., the timing of the whistle was irrelevant to the puck entering the net at the end of a continuous play).”.

So everyone who said there was nothing could be done after the whistle had gone was wrong? Well that's interesting.

Many of you reading this may say I'm just a bitter Predators fan because we lost or I'm looking for excuses and the first may be correct but this seems to me to be a legitimate complaint where the rules were bent in the opposite direction.

The Preds fought their hearts out and I'm so proud of them for this amazing playoff run. To have it end this way, being robbed two goals that could've put them in front in both games 1 and 6, to only see Crosby lift the cup again is absolutely brutal.

The NHL is, and always has been, on the Penguins side and it's clear to me through these two calls specifically that they wanted Sid to win another trophy.

I won't congratulate Pittsburgh for winning it either because I don't think they earned it. If the NHL doesn't clean up their officiating by the start of the season in the fall, they will have lost a dedicated fan.