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Good morning Kerry,
I'm sure your InBox is being flooded with questions about Ottawa's (kicked-in or not kicked-in) first goal in the third period of game four against Montreal. What is your opinion, and how did the war room decide it was a good goal?
In my untrained opinion, it appears Mika Zibanejad made no attempt to play the puck with his stick. It also appears that his front skate was not completely on the ice, as it would be during an attempt to stop. Immediately following the puck making contact with his skate, his skate is lower to the ice. Would this not constitute a kicking motion? Considering these two points, how is the determination made that this was NOT a "distinct kicking motion?"
Thanks for your insight. Keep up the great work.
C'Mon Ref received over 100 e-mails on the very question you asked. This was not an easy call for the Situation Room to make. The quick answer however is that Mika Zibanejad did NOT utilize a natural stopping motion with his left skate as he entered Carey Price's goal crease and focused on the incoming puck. Instead Zibanejad demonstrated a turn of that skate toward the net coupled with a distinct forward motion toward the goal as he contacted the puck. NO GOAL!
First, it is next to impossible for the Referee on the ice to determine if Mika Zibanejad made a "distinct kicking motion" to propel the puck into the goal. The Referee appropriately pointed once the puck entered the net.
The deliberation of any illegal move Zibanejad made in real-time speed could only be detected through video review and best demonstrated on the overhead camera angle. That's where the damming evidence of Mika Zibanejad's skate action is best found. While every play is unique and must be judged on its own merit I have seen similar plays where video review has disallowed goals scored in this fashion.
When the play (video link) was being reviewed I was immediately asked my perspective on the goal by James Duthie and Steve Dryden. I advised them that the forward motion of Mika Zibanejad's skate as demonstrated in the overhead camera should result in a disallowed goal. Former players believe that Zibanejad performed an athletic play as he contacted the puck the blade of his stick first and then his skate to direct or deflect the puck into the goal.
While that might be true (athletic play) the fact remains that under the current rule a forward motion of the skate toward the net has more often than not be ruled as a "distinct kicking motion." Rule 38.4 defines "A DISTINCT KICKING MOTION is one which, with a pendulum motion, the player propels the puck with his sakte into the net."
The majority of personnel that staff the War Room in Toronto (good people to a man) are former players who bring a player's perspective from their experience. While they know what it takes to make the play they have never had to make a ruling or decisions from the perspective of a Referee. Our different career experience and job responsibilities can often cause us to view things from a different perspective.
The Situation Room should at the very least include staffing by former Referees to assist in making these types of decisions; ones they made throughout their career on the ice.
My first choice however would be to allow the Referee(s) on the ice to review the play from a secured location to determine the legality of these types of goals in addition to goalie interference. They get paid to make the tough calls and decisions of this nature are just part of their job description.