The referees got both disallowed goals right

Saturday’s game against the Toronto Maple Leafs was thoroughly entertaining, complete with stupendous saves, wizardous passes, sick snipes, and gorgeous individual efforts, but it was not without controversy. After exchanging goals in the first 4 minutes, both teams seemed to pot their second goals of the game, only to have both of them immediately disallowed.

Predictably, Canucks fans were upset that Keith Ballard’s goal was disallowed and Toronto fans were upset that Phil Kessel’s goal was disallowed. While this is not an unexpected reaction, both groups of fans seemed to have a case.

Ballard’s goal was disallowed because Ryan Kesler was ruled to have interfered with goaltender Jonas Gustavsson, preventing him from making the save. It appeared, however, that the contact was initiated by Gustavsson while Kesler was outside the crease and some even argued that the puck went in prior to the contact.

As for Kessel’s goal, it was disallowed because the net was dislodged. It was dislodged by Dan Hamhuis, however, and the NHL rulebook says that if a defending player dislodges the net, the goal should be allowed.

It seems that I’m going to have to be the one with the unpopular opinion that the referees actually got both calls right.

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Keith Ballard’s Disallowed Goal

There are three things that Canucks fans (and the broadcasting team) took issue with. Glenn Healy and Craig Simpson first tried to say that the contact occurred after the puck was in the net, but they probably should have watched a replay first: the contact clearly occurs before the puck goes in. The other two complaints were that Gustavsson initiated the contact and that Kesler was outside the crease.

The relevant rule on this call is Rule 69 – Interference on the Goaltender. From 69.1:

The overriding rationale of this rule is that a goalkeeper should have the ability to move freely within his goal crease without being hindered by the actions of an attacking player. If an attacking player enters the goal crease and, by his actions, impairs the goalkeeper’s ability to defend his goal, and a goal is scored, the goal will be disallowed.

And from 69.3:

If a goalkeeper, in the act of establishing his position within his goal crease, initiates contact with an attacking player who is in the goal crease, and this results in an impairment of the goalkeeper’s ability to defend his goal, and a goal is scored, the goal will be disallowed.

As you can see, the two issues are interrelated. Gustavsson is certainly the one who initiated the contact, but that can still be considered goaltender interference if that contact was within the crease and “impair[ed] the goalkeeper’s ability to defend his goal.” If Kesler was outside the crease when the contact occurred, then Kesler is entitled to his space on the ice and it would only be goaltender interference if he initiated contact with Gustavsson.

So, was Kesler inside the crease? Well, yeah.

This is the overhead view from the moment Gustavsson attempts to go into his butterfly and slide to the right. His skate runs right into Kesler’s inside the crease, preventing him from “defending his goal.” It’s especially pertinent because the puck beat Gustavsson blocker side, exactly the side that he was prevented from sliding.

It’s textbook goaltender interference on incidental contact. The right call is to disallow the goal with no penalty.

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Phil Kessel’s Disallowed Goal

The complaint is a simple one for Toronto fans: Dan Hamhuis is the one who dislodges the net, so the goal should be allowed. The issue is not, as the broadcast team on CBC suggested, whether the net was off its moorings before the puck went in; that’s irrelevant to this situation.

I even saw a few people claim that Hamhuis did it intentionally, though I would dispute that. The fact that he fell backwards over his own goalie into the net might suggest that he didn’t have a lot of control over what was going on. If the suggestion is that he knew Kessel was going to score and intentionally threw himself backwards over Luongo, I think you’re giving him a little too much credit: for all he knew, the puck was about to be cleared.

The relevant rules here are Rule 25 – Awarded Goals and Rule 63 – Delaying the Game. From 25.2:

A goal will be awarded when an attacking player, in the act of shooting the puck into the goal (between the normal position of the posts and completely across the goal line), is prevented from scoring as a result of a defending player or goalkeeper displacing the goal post, either deliberately or accidentally.

Rule 63 goes into more detail on this situation. From 63.6:

In the event that the goal post is displaced, either deliberately or accidentally, by a defending player, prior to the puck crossing the goal line between the normal position of the goalposts, the Referee may award a goal.

In order to award a goal in this situation, the goal post must have been displaced by the actions [of] a defending player or goalkeeper, the puck must have been shot (or the player must be in the act of shooting) at the goal prior to the goal post being displaced, and it must be determined that the puck would have entered the net between the normal position of the goal posts.

We have already established that Hamhuis dislodged the net and the rule makes it clear that doing so accidentally still means the goal is allowed if it fits the other criteria. The key for this situation is the second paragraph under 63.6. The question is whether Kessel had already shot or was in the act of shooting “prior to the goal post being displaced.”

And the answer is no. He had not yet shot and was not yet shooting.

While I wish I had a better angle for this call, this is the moment the net was dislodged. You can see that the crossbar is no longer parallel with the goal line. You can also see that the puck has not even reached Kessel’s stick. Now Kessel has a lightning quick release on his shot and the puck is off his stick right away, but he did not take the shot prior to the net being dislodged and he was not yet shooting as the puck had not yet reached his stick.

This one was an extremely close call, but was ultimately the right one.

 

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32 comments

  1. Dave
    December 18, 2011

    Impressive – especially after the travesty in Carolina. Your explanation makes it very clear that the refs made the right call in both cases, and without the benefit of extensive reviews. Nicely done.

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  2. Canuckles
    December 18, 2011

    I was thinking exactly the same thing. Both were the right calls.

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  3. BeCanucks
    December 18, 2011

    Good call.
    I think it would be better for the refs if they explained it to the guys on the ice…

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    • Brosef Stalin
      December 18, 2011

      I’d even be happy with a Shanny-style video after the fact TBH. I could see there being less benefit to the players than the boarding videos but it could possibly clear up some of the confusion afterwards for both players and fans

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  4. Steven Ray Orr
    December 18, 2011

    I sure didn’t think so at the time, but you’ve explained it in such a way to remove all my righteous fury. Where am I supposed to direct my rage, Daniel? Where, I ask you?!

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  5. Harrison Mooney
    December 18, 2011

    Friggin’ Daniel. I wrote the exact opposite of this in the IWTG. NOT COOL, BRO.

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    • Daniel Wagner
      December 18, 2011

      FIGHT FIGHT FIGHT FIGHT!

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  6. shoes
    December 18, 2011

    It appears both calls were right. Good, these kinds of calls you can live with. It is other calls that end up in front of Colon, Murphy or Shanny and appear to be completely inconsistent that drives most fans nuts. When they read minds and in some cases decide “intent” and in other cases “no intent”…….it hardly can appear fair, after all these guys are not nearly smart enough to read minds……in Colon’s case not even sure he has one functioning.

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  7. Brosef Stalin
    December 18, 2011

    Differing opinions from the PITB writers? Is there a blogger controversy brewing? Just kidding, I like the fact that I can come here and read two balanced and well reasoned posts on the same issues without worrying about any slinging of internet feces.

    (Unfortunately we’ll probably see Mooney/Wagner for Lecavalier proposals from The Province soon if this tandem continues to work well)

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    • Benny
      December 18, 2011

      #blogtendingcontroversy

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  8. peanutflower
    December 18, 2011

    I’m not sure about the second goal — I’ll have to read it again, but on the Canucks’ disallowed goal I’m not sure I agree with you. Your explanation of the rules, while probably accurate, leaves it wide open for the goalie to intentially initiate contact and thus draw the no goal. I looked at this over and over again and, while it’s completely my subjective opinion I admit, I see the goalie initiating contact with Kesler’s skate, not that he accidentally touched it or touched it in the process of beginning his butterfly or whatever you want to call it. If the issue is that Kesler’s skate shouldn’t be in the crease, well, I guess that’s fair then, but if the issue is contact within the crease, a different thing, then I’d say Kesler has a point. The goalie can’t — can he? — be free to initiate all kinds of contact and then be the beneficiary of the call; right?

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    • Harrison Mooney
      December 18, 2011

      The goalie can, peanutflower, if the player is in the crease. If Kesler were outside the crease and Gustavsson initiated contact, it would be his own fault. But when a player is standing in the crease restricting his movement, the referee is right to call the goal off.

      I wrote the opposite last night, but on closer inspection, Daniel’s right. This was a good call.

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      • peanutflower
        December 18, 2011

        Well, I guess those are the rules, but it still seems it was intentional by the goalie in this case. I thought, though, that Kesler and the Canucks handled that call very graciously, as compared to the Leaf’s response. Bad calls or not, if you take these opposite reactions I really don’t understand why the Canucks have the reputation they have.

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        • Winsy
          December 18, 2011

          Yes, it WAS intentional. Goalies are allowed to interfere if the opposing player is in his crease. i.e. The goalie is allowed to push the opposing player out if the player is where the goalie needs to be, which was clear in this case.

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        • John in Marpole
          December 18, 2011

          Think of it this way. If the goalie can’t initiate contact *inside the crease*, then all a foward would have to do is park himself in the blue paint to prevent the goaltender from free movement in pursuit of the puck.

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        • madwag
          December 18, 2011

          One hundred percent agreement with peanutflower! If the Canucks are whiners, then the Leafs must be deemed sniveling whimpering winging blubbering yawpers given the fuss they made over their disallowed goal, what with the coach dropping f-bombs and the players yowling about being so hard done by. Frankly I was appalled by their reaction. I mean, “Suck it up, buttercup!”

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    • Daniel Wagner
      December 18, 2011

      The key phrase from the rulebook on this issue is “in the act of establishing his position within his goal crease.” That position can be his simple squaring up to the shooter, or it can be going into his butterfly, or any other motion to get himself into position to make the save. So yes, in his crease, he has pretty free rein, as long as he is attempting to make the save. He can’t initiate contact just to draw a penalty, but he can initiate contact if he’s trying to get into position to make a save.

      In this situation, the shot went blocker side on Gustavsson, so he attempts to slide to his right in his butterfly to make the save. When he does so, he initiates contact with Kesler, which impairs him from making the save.

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  9. peanutflower
    December 18, 2011

    dang spelling mistake — “intentionally initiate contact”

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  10. SaturnCat
    December 18, 2011

    there are goals all the time with more egregious interference than the ballard goal that don’t get waved off…either wave them all off or allow them all, it’s the inconsistency that’s maddening.

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  11. Winsy
    December 18, 2011

    great article!

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  12. Winsy
    December 18, 2011

    So, was it that the refs knew just what they were doing, or was it just sheer dumb luck that they made the right calls?? There’s the real question!

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  13. shoes
    December 18, 2011

    I don’t mind refs “being proved correct” as they are most of the time, however the NHL could put more effort into communicating, they could make rules that did not have the wide range of refs discretion that we see and they could apologize when the refs get a major call wrong. No big deal and it would please the fans. Also certain refs should simply be kept away from certain teams. For example. ….Walkom and LaRue were the refs in the Bertuzzi incident and Auger was partnered with LaRue when he jobbed Burrows. I definitely feel that those 3 have some axe to grind with the Canuck organization. Regardless I will never trust any of those 3.

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  14. madwag
    December 18, 2011

    One hundred percent agreement with peanutflower! If the Canucks are whiners, then the Leafs must be deemed sniveling whimpering winging blubbering yawpers given the fuss they made over their disallowed goal, what with the coach dropping f-bombs and the players yowling about being so hard done by. Frankly I was appalled by their reaction. I mean, “Suck it up, buttercup!”

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    • C
      December 20, 2011

      I’m pretty sure the whole argument was about where the faceoff was. After the disallowed Leaf goal the refs had the faceoff outside the zone even though Hamhuis, without any assistance from a Leaf player, knocked the net off its moorings. They weren’t complaining about the goal – hell, I knew right away, and I didn’t have the benefit of a Jumbotron – but the controversy was where the faceoff was.

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  15. J21
    December 18, 2011

    I read the description of the disallowed Ballard goal before seeing footage, and so I expected it to be the worst call I had ever seen. But then when I watched the highlight, my first thought, like yours, was “Well, Kesler *is* in the crease”… and I also agree there is contact before the puck enters, not only after.

    I do still have an issue with it, though, because the Canucks (and presumably many other teams) surrender goals like that all the time without the slightest deliberation by the officials. The famous Dustin Byfuglien show in the 2010 playoffs is a pretty solid example; he was initiating contact all over the blue paint. The reality is that the officials usually let it go unless it looks deliberate or really egregious. So I do think it was inconsistent with precedent to waive that off, although I don’t have too much issue with them doing it if they always do.

    By contrast, this is not the case with the Kessel disallowed goal. It didn’t differ from past practice at all. I pretty much have *never* seen a goal awarded while the net was fully off, even if there are situations where they are supposed to call that according to the rulebook.

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    • J21
      December 18, 2011

      As an addendum, I believe Kesler was being pushed into the crease by Cody Franson too, wasn’t he? The still image certainly implies that (his skates are positioned in a very obtuse angle, and he is clearly trying to stop).

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      • Daniel Wagner
        December 19, 2011

        Not in the slightest. Kesler came in from behind the defender and pushed him out of the way. Kesler was in that position purely of his own volition.

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  16. shoes
    December 19, 2011

    How can any referee in the NHL be called unbiased or fair, as long as they know that their boss thinks like this:

    http://www.tsn.ca/nhl/story/?id=341367

    It is inconcievable that an employee can act impartial, if they think that by doing so, they may lose a 6 figure income and first class travel treatment in what amounts to a fairly enjoyable career path. Now granted young gregory does not play in every game, but still the sword is raised and hanging there for all to see. It is time for Colin to step down along with his “handpicked” staff. That unfortunately may include Shanny already. It certainly includes Mike Murphy and Stephen Walkom, as the email above indicates a conspiracy of sorts, however reluctant.

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  17. shoes
    December 19, 2011

    For those that continue to insist that the Canucks are the only team that complains about officiating, how about we just go back to the last game played before this comment. And here we go………

    Brent Sutter was really peeved about the officiating.

    Enough to be assessed a third-period bench penalty for screeching at the referees, then refusing to step down from the bench.

    And, post-game, the Calgary Flames coach couldn’t even pinpoint which foul had irked him most.

    The minor to T.J. Brodie for high-sticking Chicago Blackhawks forward Patrick Kane. The non-call on Hawks forward Patrick Sharp after spoiling Brendan Morrison’s breakaway. A high-stick on Tim Jackman.

    “On and on and on all night.”

    The fact is …..Mike Gillis stood up and called out the officials in the Chicago series in game 4 and rightly so, or we would not have made it through further in the playoffs. But other than that, there was no comment out of players or staff for the entire rest of the playoffs. Fans yes, but not the team. Pinheads like Milbury (boston), Cherry (boston) Maclean (refs) are considered voices of reason, even though their allegiances are well known and public and these voices of unbiased reason were able to “embellish” at will.

    I guess the well documented Calgary flames public love affair with Stephane Auger is now over as he was the ref that Sutter was feuding with last night. LOL, unless they kiss and make up.

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    • J21
      December 19, 2011

      Heh, the notion that the Canucks are “the only team” who does anything should pretty much be dismissed out of hand every time unless the speaker is talking about the uniqueness of the Sedins. There is not one team who doesn’t do all the supposed things the Canucks are “hated” for in more or less equal measure.

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    • Daniel Wagner
      December 19, 2011

      I’m not sure that anyone thinks that Mike Milbury or Don Cherry are “voices of reason.”

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  18. Heyheyhey
    December 19, 2011

    I was at the game on Saturday night and agreed with both the calls. What I didn’t understand is why the faceoff was outside the zone after the Leaf goal was called back? If anyone could clear that up it would be greatly appreciated. I can’t speak for the other 20,000 fans at the ACC, but that’s why I was booing.

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