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Fraser: Leafs-Coyotes shootout exposed flaws in replay system

Dec 20, 2013, 2:42 PM EDT

SmithJVR Getty Images

Former NHL referee Kerry Fraser says last night’s controversial shootout in Toronto highlighted two major problems with the NHL’s video review system.

The goal in question came during James van Riemsdyk‘s shootout attempt on Phoenix’s Mike Smith — even though there was no definitive call on the ice and video replay failed to confirm the puck crossed the line, van Riemsdyk was awarded a goal.

Here are Fraser’s issues with the call:

Video review must clearly see the puck across the goal line with an unobstructed view before they will verify a goal. The evidence must be unequivocal! If this can’t be achieved video review personnel render an ‘inconclusive’ verdict even in cases where it appears logical that the puck would have crossed the line.
The referee, on the other hand, as we saw demonstrate on this call, allowed a goal to stand by applying logic, common sense and the power of deduction to determine that in his judgment the puck had crossed the goal line.

My recommendation is to provide the referee with the authority to review controversial goals at ice level (including goalkeeper interference) and have the final authority and judgment in these matters. The optics on JVR’s ultimate goal determination looked ridiculous!

Referee [Rob] Martell (and Paul Devorski) did not make a decision on the play in real time. Martell then spent several minutes communicating through a head set and staring into space. Following the inconclusive review verdict, Referee Martell was forced to render a final decision – one that he was unable or unwilling to make in real time!

The Refs are supposed to make a call one way or the other in real time; let them also make the final decision through the video review process.

Here’s a replay of the incident:

Note that none of the on-ice officials make any sort of definitive “good goal” signal — in fact, there doesn’t appear to be any signal at all, something Smith confirmed following the game.

“He came and whispered it in my ear like ‘it’s a goal,’ and he didn’t really give a signal that it was,” Smith said, as per “He made the call, he said he saw it go in. It’s unfortunate, but that’s the way it goes.”

The NHL offered a brief explanation of the call via its Situation Room blog, saying that “video review was inconclusive” and that “therefore, the referee’s call on the ice stands.”

  1. charlieconway96 - Dec 20, 2013 at 2:49 PM

    Pretty much no way the puck didn’t cross the goal line. The puck was stuck somewhere in between his legs, the insides of both pads we’re clearly over the line.

    • bwayblueshirt - Dec 20, 2013 at 4:21 PM

      Right? He’s not gonna pull one over on Devorsky. Dude is the best NHL ref since Fraser left.

  2. ibieiniid - Dec 20, 2013 at 2:57 PM

    I was thinking about this… there’s gotta be a way to have cameras pointing up from UNDER the ice. not sure if its as easy as it seems to get a clear shot, but it could probably help in some cases. hell, you should probably be able to see at least the outline of a black puck even through foggy ice.

  3. elvispocomo - Dec 20, 2013 at 3:10 PM

    Here’s what’s interesting for me. They didn’t show the in goal cam – which wouldn’t have helped much at the end I don’t think but might have as Smith was first trying to stop the puck – but the ref we see in the replay comes in and tries to ‘see’ the puck by looking down through the top of the net. I have no idea how he figured that would help, with Smith blocking the view from above, when he should have gone behind the net and looked between Smith’s legs while Smith still had the right one up. That would have been the only view where they could possibly have seen it definitively, although an early view from the net cam might have shown where the puck was in his pads.

  4. endusersolutions2013 - Dec 20, 2013 at 3:13 PM

    One thing that this reinforces is hat Mike Smith will get away with whatever he thinks he can. Noted diver and complainer about things like incidental contact where the guy making the contact was pushed or checked by another Yote.

  5. storminator16 - Dec 20, 2013 at 3:14 PM

    I can’t get over how hilarious Mike Smith played that. He wasn’t going to help anyone out there. ROFL

    • stevebass2 - Dec 20, 2013 at 3:23 PM

      That’s an important detail. Smith wouldn’t have tried to play off the goal not going into the net quite as much as he did if there was a call made at ice level. He obviously assumed, as I’m sure most people did, that the ref didn’t see the puck go in, as he didn’t make any sort of motion as to whether or not the puck was in.

  6. stevebass2 - Dec 20, 2013 at 3:20 PM

    I’m a Coyotes fan, and I think the puck probably crossed the line, but there was no indication by the ref that he saw the puck cross the line. If he didn’t give any indication that it crossed the line, then how can he say that the call on the ice stands? If the ref doesn’t see the puck cross the line, shouldn’t the goalie get the benefit of the doubt? I don’t understand how that isn’t the case.

  7. sippindasyzurp - Dec 20, 2013 at 3:20 PM

    Get rid of the crappy shootout already! It is a JOKE. I would rather just see a tie,

    • nothanksimdriving123 - Dec 20, 2013 at 6:48 PM

      We get you dislike the shootout, but this kind of play can happen at any time during regulation or OT.

  8. redmosquito16 - Dec 20, 2013 at 4:07 PM

    I’m a goalie (beer league – nothing special) and have spent a fair amount of time researching and learning various aspects of the equipment. I’m not the foremost authority on goalie gear but one thing I know for sure from both personal experience and feedback I’ve received from fellow goaltenders is that the Reebok pads are notorious for curving up OFF of the ice in the thigh rise area. Now, I’m in no way blaming the equipment, BUT that puck doesn’t get in between Smith’s legs had the thigh rise on his left pad been flush against the ice (see the 2:06 mark of the video).

    • hockeyflow33 - Dec 21, 2013 at 2:07 AM

      Get pads that fit you and that won’t happen. I’ve had several sets of Reeboks and that’s not true.

  9. avfanforlife - Dec 20, 2013 at 4:52 PM

    Absolutely no way to see if that puck is completely over the line. No call on the ice though – what was he talking about during the explanation. Neither ref pointed. Should have been no goal in my opinion, but the reality is that it probably did make it across by an inch or so.

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