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NHL investigation says human error caused L.A.’s clock problem in February

Jul 26, 2012, 1:57 PM EDT

Drew Doughty, Curtis Sanford, Jack Johnson, Fedor Tyutin AP

Remember when time actually stood still in Los Angeles back in February? The Kings were able to score a go-ahead goal with less than a second to play over the Columbus Blue Jackets thanks to the clock being slow to start after a face off.

As it turns out, the NHL’s investigation into what caused the clock to not start on time was pretty simple. Sean Fitz-Gerald of The National Post reports it was human error that worked in the Kings’ favor.

On Thursday, Peter Hurzeler, a veteran official in charge of timing at the Olympics, put it in simple terms: “It’s manual — the clock doesn’t know when it has to stop.”

It sounds like such a simple explanation, but when you have error-prone humans (something all of us are) running machines that are mostly flawless, these things will happen.

At the very least, this whole situation got us an amazingly snarky post from Blue Jackets GM Scott Howson and a fascinating explanation from Kings GM Dean Lombardi about coulombs and how time functions.

  1. hockeyfan1701 - Jul 26, 2012 at 2:06 PM

    I say this as a CBJ fan. After watching this season does it really matter.

    • govtminion - Jul 26, 2012 at 4:14 PM

      From a CBJ point of view, you’re right, it was pretty irrelevant. But… one can only wonder if that difference in the standings could have meant the difference between that 8th seed for the Kings, or being out of the playoffs completely. No way to know, of course, but such small details can have big effects later.

      • bigpappi - Jul 26, 2012 at 5:19 PM

        why even speculate such a thing. Thing happen through the course of the season. For instance the kings had a 2 on 1 when a shark player knocked a puck away with stick while sitting on the bench, it was missed. Could have been the difference from being 3rd seed to 8th seed. No one cares such is the nature of sports .

  2. masalaswag - Jul 26, 2012 at 2:28 PM

    The situation wasn’t that the clock didn’t start on time as is written here. The issue was that as the clock was counting down in the final seconds, it stopped momentarily, seemingly adding the milliseconds allowing the Kings to score. Play was not dead. Unless a human stopped and started the clock, there was either a malfunction or we are to believe Lombardi’s “calibration” argument.

    Either way, I would expect a more accurate depiction of what actually happened from NBC. These are the types of gaffes I expect from ESPN.

  3. wenzel0232 - Jul 26, 2012 at 7:17 PM

    To the CBJ fan (singular) it may not have mattered after last season, but if it did it sure as heck doesn’t matter after this off season.

  4. Brian - Jul 26, 2012 at 9:08 PM

    This makes Lombardi’s baffling explanation using coloumbs even more hilarious. Honestly, did he just completely pull that out of his butt?

  5. ray2013 - Jul 27, 2012 at 5:10 AM

    I understand that officials miss calls and that over a season or two, it all basically evens out. And I realize that most fans consider Howson an idiot who does not deserve to be a GM.

    But Howson made a serious allegation when it happened; either the clock was broken or it was stopped deliberately. So we know:

    1) the clock was fine
    2) someone from the NHL started it, paused it and then re-started it to give the Kings enough time to score.

    If someone screwed up the handling of the clock, were they disciplined for making such a major error or was it done intentionally/deliberately? And if it was done intentionally or deliberately, was there a lot of action on the game in LV books?

    You can’t just have a GM of an NHL franchise make a serious allegation like that and try to give an answer that doesn’t clarify much of anything. I also remember Tom Renney accusing the officials of blatant favoritism for the LA Kings; “they must want Hollywood in the playoffs”.

    Those are serious allegations, and they should be dealt with seriously, not with vague, non-committal answers. Who do they think they are, politicians?

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