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Question for commenters: So, what becomes of Chicago’s disallowed goal?

May 29, 2013, 11:45 PM EDT

The Chicago Blackhawks thought they had it in the bag.

With less than two minutes remaining in the third period of a 1-1 tie in Game 7, Niklas Hjalmarsson scored what appeared to be the go-ahead and potential game-winning goal on Wednesday night — only it wasn’t meant to be.

Referee Stephen Walkom whistled Kyle Quincey and Brandon Saad for matching roughing minors right before Hjalmarsson scored his goal.

The officials huddled, skated to the timekeeper and announced they were waving off the goal while over 21,000 fans at the United Center continued to celebrate.

Those celebrations quickly turned to disbelief, and boos (and, litter on the ice).

It was one of the most questionable, controversial and stunning calls in recent playoff memory.

But in the end, it didn’t matter.

Brent Seabrook won it for Chicago just 3:35 into overtime, and the only person happier than Seabrook might’ve been Walkom, who was, for all intents and purposes, let off the hook.

Because let’s be honest here.

Controversial calls — or, non-calls — get etched in our memory only when they have change/decide the outcome of a game:

Brett Hull’s “No Goal” in the 1999 Stanley Cup against Buffalo

Wayne Gretzky avoiding a high-sticking call on Doug Gilmour in the ’93 Conference finals

The Islanders’ offside goal in Game 6 of the 1980 Stanley Cup finals against Philly

Those are unforgettable.

I’m not sure this is.

To be honest, I have no idea what the legacy/infamy of this call will be.

Heck, I don’t even know what the ramifications will be.

Walkom might be dropped from the officiating rotation for the Conference finals, a relatively light punishment given how disastrous this could’ve been. The call won’t, most likely, affect his career the way the Gilmour-Gretzky high stick defined Kerry Fraser’s.

At the same time, it feels like this call has to somehow be remembered, because it was just so rare and bizarre and unfathomable.

If you had to pick an absolute worse-case scenario for a referee, it would probably be disallowing a good goal late in Game 7, costing the home team in one of the NHL’s loudest rinks.

(And if you’re wondering if Walkom got it at all right, consider this Tweet from Fraser.)

So here’s your chance, PHT commenters.

We know you have ideas, go share them.

Update: Just for clarity’s sake, the call was considered controversial because 1) Walkom stopped an ongoing play to address a scrum that wasn’t affecting the action or anywhere near the puck.

And 2) the case could be made Walkom should’ve called just a penalty on Quincey, not coincidentals to Quincey and Saad. (“I was shocked when the linesman told me I was going to the box,” Saad said afterward).

If that was the case, then the play wouldn’t have been blown dead because Chicago had possession.

  1. stevej110 - May 29, 2013 at 11:54 PM

    Nothing whatsoever controversial about the call. It was made well before the goal. Therefore, the goal does not count.

    What is controversial is the fact that people at NBC sports network who claim to know the rules don’t know what they’re talking about. It makes for vacuous “analysis.”

    • hockeyflow33 - May 30, 2013 at 12:11 AM

      Ummm what?

      • bettmanistheworstever - May 30, 2013 at 12:58 AM

        You seem challenged to understand basic English and facts by your repeated comments? Do you need help? Ask, and it may be given.

      • hockeyflow33 - May 30, 2013 at 1:30 AM

        Your incorrect use of commas indicates you might have an issue with sentence composition.

    • adambballn - May 30, 2013 at 12:24 AM

      In your opinion, does Kerry Fraser “know the rules”? This is what he had to say on Twitter.

      @kfraserthecall: @timcurrell Saad weak right glove back @ Quincey did not equate as coincidental minor. Play should have been allowed 2 continue w/ Hawk poss

      • 1943mrmojorisin1971 - May 30, 2013 at 1:13 AM

        Anybody who has ever watched playoff hockey knows that call should not have been made. Something so bad it can’t not be called has to happen for a penalty in that situation. That wasn’t even close.

      • jpelle82 - May 30, 2013 at 9:39 AM

        yeah it wasnt about WHEN the whistle was blown, it was whether it shouldve been blown in the first place. the call on saad shouldnt have been made, he was getting man handled and was on his back basically, hawks had the puck and there was no advantage taken away by the penalty…shouldve counted. the problem was he deemed it to be coincidental penalties when it shouldnt have been – shouldve just been quincy if anything.

  2. esracerx46 - May 30, 2013 at 12:03 AM

    The call of waiving off the goal wasn’t controversial. Walkom made a call, and it just so happened the Hawks scored as he blew the whistle. I didn’t like the penalties, but the call was correct. If their is a controversy, it should be about the non-call on Holland who looked like he might have boarded a Wings player(Abdelkader?), that gave Seabrook the puck to score. If you really wanted to start a controversy you start it by saying the refs swallowed the whistles to make up for the soft roughing penalties.

    • dt58 - May 30, 2013 at 1:01 PM

      Agree with you on the “controversial goal” but as far as the refs not blowing that Bolland hit, they had their whistles in their pocket all night with stuff like that (Clearys elbow to the head of Hjalmarsson for eg.). It went both ways all game and I’m glad there were so few penalties (even though both teams PP stinks)

      • yankeehawk - May 30, 2013 at 4:52 PM

        anybody notice that dirt bag Abdelkader when Quincey had Saad on his back….he jumps over the boards to the ice and drags his skate right over Saad’s head….

  3. nyrnashty - May 30, 2013 at 12:03 AM

    I hope I don’t even remember it tomorrow since it didn’t change anything!

  4. sjsharks66 - May 30, 2013 at 12:05 AM

    It was a good call. Im tired of NBC having fits over calls that go against favorite teams.

    • mb65dod - May 30, 2013 at 12:12 PM

      Man, I’ve been following your comments in this series. You are one the Blackhawks hater! Saad should not get penalty and in that case it would have been delayed penalty and goal would count.

  5. vagabondjim65 - May 30, 2013 at 12:06 AM

    If you watch the side-by-side reply NBC showed, Walkom was clearly reaching for his whistle before the pass out to Hjarmalsson. At that point it was just a puck deep in the corner.

  6. vagabondjim65 - May 30, 2013 at 12:10 AM

    A more important missed call was the slew foot that hurt Filpulla.

    A slew foot is a such a spectacularly dangerous play it has its own rule with stiffer penalties. Officials need to call it instead of just tripping to get it out of the game.

    (Just like they need to use the existing rule that allows for post game video review to identify and punish diving. These rules are on the books — they need to be enforced. Or, remove them.)

    • hockeyflow33 - May 30, 2013 at 12:12 AM

      Punishing diving after the fact would be very dangerous. That is a call that needs to be made on the ice at the time it happens as there is a lot that goes into such a judgment call.

      • stakex - May 30, 2013 at 12:23 AM

        Not really. Sure there are some calls that should be left up to the ref on the ice… but there are a lot of dives that are so obvious its not even funny. The really obvious ones should be handled after the game by the league office.

      • bettmanistheworstever - May 30, 2013 at 12:27 AM

        you are talking about former Wiung Hossa, right?

  7. stakex - May 30, 2013 at 12:17 AM

    “If you had to pick an absolute worse-case scenario for a referee, it would probably be disallowing a good goal late in Game 7, costing the home team in one of the NHL’s loudest rinks.”

    ….but it wasn’t a good goal because you can’t score after the play is blown dead. It was a puck shot into the net after the whistle was blown. That goal can never count. We can debate all day if the penelties were the right call, but the goal was never good.

    And its funny that you post a link to that massive Fraser screw up with the Leafs/Kings, but then use him as an analyst for this. Thats irony right there.

    • 1943mrmojorisin1971 - May 30, 2013 at 1:22 AM

      I’m a Leafs fan, that makes it so difficult to admit I like Fraser, but he knows the game. Can’t blame a guy too much for missing a call when he was the only ref out there. He’s right, that play shouldn’t have been stopped.

  8. chibimike - May 30, 2013 at 12:18 AM

    I love that you write an article ripping on the official that did his job correctly. He made the obvious call, didn’t worry about how much time was left, didn’t worry about the current situation. He followed the rules to the letter.

    The thing that ruins the NHL postseason is the situational refereeing. Interference is no longer a penalty, hooking nope, slashing rarely. Third period or overtime swallow the whistles. Gutless referees ruin the game, not ones that do the right thing.

    And yes, that was boarding on bolland. Can’t call that on overtime though.

    • stakex - May 30, 2013 at 12:34 AM

      I both strongly agree and disagree with you.

      This was the correct call by the rules, and the ref shouldn’t be hung out to dry because he followed the rules as they are writen. He saw it, he called it, drop it.

      However I don’t agree that situational refereeing is always bad. Most of the best hockey I have seen in my life has been playoff hockey where the whistles vanish, especially in elimination games. So long as the refs put the whistles away evenly, I have no issue with it… and believe me, the players love it.

      My only problem with “situational refereeing”, is when its done to favor a team thats down in a game, or trailing in a series. Letting two teams fight it out on even footing is a good thing, helping a team get back into a game/series is a huge problem.

    • jpelle82 - May 30, 2013 at 9:44 AM

      mike you realize you contradicted yourself within 2 sentences? you say the thing that ruins the playoffs is situational refereeing but then admit you cant make a call in overtime because its overtime? overtime is situational isnt it? shouldnt matter if you think it was a penalty

      • chibimike - May 30, 2013 at 11:10 PM

        I was being facetious. I should have said they “won’t” call that in overtime.

  9. Stiller43 - May 30, 2013 at 12:26 AM

    I dont think this call will be mentioned or remembered much at all in years to come; except for a throw in while reminiscing over the game 7 win.

    Had it gone the other way and detroit ended up winning…well jeez, it would have been talked about like crazy

  10. jhuck92 - May 30, 2013 at 1:46 AM

    For all those conspiracy theorists out there saying “NHL/Bettman 2 – Wings 1″ this blown call completely disproves that nonsense. According to that “logic,” the league was trying their best to give the series to Detroit. Only the best team in hockey could have the kind of intestinal fortitude it takes to come back from 3-1 series deficit.

  11. bettmanistheworstever - May 30, 2013 at 1:51 AM

    Mike Whaalford: Do you get paid to post this stuff? Amazing, if so. I’d get more out of walking out m front door and asking anyone anything about hockey.

  12. thedavesiknowiknow - May 30, 2013 at 4:28 AM

    Answer: all’s well that ends well. It had all the potential to be almost as bad as “no goal”- which should be the standard for a black eye every official with any connection to a deciding game should be dead set on avoiding. This case was a subjective call in October. In the playoffs, much (much, much) worse things are happening after every single whistle, it seems. By 10 minutes left in the 3rd, the game is (essentially) in overtime. “Subjective” calls should be out of the question, and usually are late in a playoff game. Not knowing the refs history- I wouldn’t call for his head, still a stern warning not to take center stage from here on out. As for “intent to blow the whistle”, that’s as bush-league as it gets (imo), and the NHL has a pile of bush-league rules. Get rid of it before it embarrasses the league.

  13. valoisjoeybfeld69 - May 30, 2013 at 6:12 AM

    The ref blew the whistle before the pass was anywhere close the NH. This is indisputable. However, one can argue that the ref didn’t have to call penalties on that play.

  14. stromlid2466 - May 30, 2013 at 7:58 AM

    I think it’ll be forgotten since the Blackhawks won.

    Plus this much brouhaha over a non-overtime blown call is a little silly. What bothers me about a lot of the media commentary on this is it’s as if the game would have been over at that point. Was it a bad call? Yes. Would the Blackhawks have won the game in regulation if the goal was allowed? We’ll never know. Because no one has ever tied up a game with a minute and a half left.

  15. danaking - May 30, 2013 at 8:27 AM

    It’s the inconsistency that’s frustrating. I’m not advocating swallowing the whistle late in a game–in fact, I detest it–but what happened there are worse had been allowed to go on all series. Deciding to call it at that point in the game was horrible judgement.

  16. comeonnowguys - May 30, 2013 at 8:58 AM

    Of course the goal should have been disallowed, the ref waved it off.

    That said, it should never have been a double minor. Show me in the rule book where getting Saad getting checked in the boards and then thrown to the ice is a minor? I don’t even think it warranted a Detroit penalty.

    Not to mention that the whistle came faster than several goalie coverups last night.

    Terrible, terrible call.

    • dt58 - May 30, 2013 at 12:52 PM

      Totally agree. Whistle blew (refs hand wasn’t raised though) then the shot was taken. No goal. After the refs had kept their whistle in their pocket all game and let them play, they decide to call that? Shouldn’t even been a Detroit minor…

  17. papajack1259 - May 30, 2013 at 9:06 AM

    Referees umpires and all officiating….especially considering this situation, need to be reprimanded, and never ref another pro game again, enough of pro refs circling the wagons, This ref should be doing high School hockey…….sorry but you can not make that call at that point in the game…

  18. greenmtnboy31 - May 30, 2013 at 9:13 AM

    Let’s just hope we don’t see Steve Walkom for the rest of this post season. He should not be reffing playoff hockey if he is going to insert himself and attempt to influence an otherwise well played game. Have some situational awareness and don’t be a complete moron.

  19. Recovering WS - May 30, 2013 at 10:37 AM

    Walkom is a disgrace. I have yet to hear an analyst on ANY national network say anything except he blew the call. Even Kerry Frazer admitted it.

    It was a horrid call. He needs to be disciplined. Coincidental minors? Saad was being MUGGED!

  20. ctochester12 - May 30, 2013 at 12:14 PM

    I would love to hear how the ref decided coincidental minors, what it when Saad was being pushed onto the bench, oh wait it must have been when he was being body slammed onto the ice, or wait maybe it was he he was being kicked in the head by Abdelkader getting onto the ice. It a blown call because nothing should have been called on the Blackhawks, and play should have continued.

    • hockeydon10 - May 30, 2013 at 2:18 PM

      It was the retaliation punch.

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