The National Hockey League may have made a major misstep and it seems fair to suggest that it is due entirely to the fact that they do not realize just how sick their fans are of the inconsistent officiating in the world's biggest and most popular hockey league.
On Sunday night Columbus Blue Jackets head coach John Tortorella went on a tirade during his post game interview in which he called out the NHL's shoddy officiating, all the while slamming his fist on the podium in anger. Here's what Tortorella had to say on the matter:
"The whistle is blown at 19.2 on the clock," began Tortorella. "For some reason the clock is run down a second and a tenth to 18.1. Whatever reason, I have no goddamn idea. So instead of resetting the clock, we have them tell our captain we're not going to do it. Toronto doesn't step in, refs don't do their freaking job, and now we lose a game, and we lose our goalie. So the chain of events, if it was done right, we don't lose our goalie we win the hockey game. So all of this goddamn technology, right? The technology and getting things right... the stubbornness tonight, by the officials, and by the league, and by Toronto, however it's supposed to goddamn work, screws us. It's ridiculous. I'm not taking any goddamn questions."
The National Hockey League responded this morning via Colin Campbell, NHL director of hockey operations and it was a pretty scathing statement directed directly at Tortorella.
1) There was a time out so there was ample time to do what the officials felt they needed to do... if anything (i.e., they were not rushed.
2) We have video of the referee (Chris Schlenker was the referee checking on this) skating over, questioning the clock operator in the penalty box, then going back over and giving an explanation to Brad Shaw.
3) The penalty assessed is a "too many men" which requires an assessment of the play, i.e. too many men. Kane received the pass, then officials made an assessment of the player going to the bench and blew the whistle after deciding it was too many men on the ice. The whistle does not sound as soon as Kane touches the puck. It's not a delayed high stick, trip, etc.
4) The one-ice officials can always adjust the clock if they feel it is required. The Official Timer can notify the on-ice officials that there are issues at any time from his perspective. Toronto can get involved if we see issues. Assessing when the whistle is blown is hard for us to do sitting in Toronto and not being in the building live.
5) What John said in his press conference was unprofessional along with unacceptable. We are dealing with it and I have already had an initial conversation with both Jarmo and John.
Those are some pretty harsh words from Campbell, the problem here however is that we have video replay. As you can see from the clip below the whistle does go off well before the clock comes to a stop, something that makes it appear to me as though Tortorella is in the right here.
It seems I am not alone in this as many fans have now rallied behind John Tortorella and it is not just the fans either. Player agent Allan Walsh took a shot at the NHL this morning in response to the statement issued by the league on this matter.
"The NHL league office just hates to admit a mistake," aid Walsh. "It’s ingrained cultural arrogance."
Seems like the NHL may have put their proverbial foot in their own mouth here.