Fraser: Walkom should have let play continue before goal

Kerry Fraser
5/30/2013 1:38:55 PM
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Got a question on rule clarification, comments on rule enforcements or some memorable NHL stories? Kerry wants to answer your emails at!

Hey Kerry,
Just want to say that I love reading your column and every time there's a strange call on the ice, the next day I'm on to see if you wrote anything. Now you might not remember but we actually met at the breakfast buffet at the Marriott in Aruba. We were the Habs family who got our hockey updates from you while on vacation!
Moving on, I was watching Game 7 of the Detroit/Chicago series and I was just amazed at the call made on the "second" Chicago goal.
Now I know you are probably going to get a lot of emails on this call but I don't understand why Chicago was assessed a penalty on the scrum in front of the bench. In my opinion only Detroit should have got a penalty and therefore it should have been a goal. I also don't understand why the referee allowed the play to continue after deciding that both teams deserved a penalty. This is just one of many strange calls seen in this playoffs that I don't understand.

Thanks a lot Kerry,
Patrick McLaughlin


Hey Patrick:

It's great to reconnect with you. As they say in Aruba; Bon Bini—One Happy Island!

There wasn't much 'happiness' in the Madhouse on Madison last night with 1:47 remaining in regulation time when Niklas Hjalmarsson scored the potential series-winning goal only to have it negated by coincidental roughing minor penalties assessed by Referee Stephen Walkom from 90 feet away.

The celebration from the 20,000 plus in attendance was put on hold until Brent Seabrook scored the eventual game-winning, series-ending goal just 3:35 into the first overtime period. This goal would not be denied and the 'House' erupted in jubilant celebration. With justice eventually served I can only guess that a huge sigh of relief was felt by at least one man in stripes and countless NHL executives in suits watching from the sidelines.

Most confusing to me is the Referee's decision to assess 'coincidental' minor penalties on the play. Forget the score and the time of the game; or even that it was Game 7 and Chicago was on the attack with puck possession deep in the Red Wing zone. I dare not factor these into the equation as we all cry for a consistent standard of enforcement to be implemented throughout the entire game.

Instead I will analyze the play on face value and demonstrate why it was the wrong judgment to make period!

With an eye toward consistency I can't help but bring to your attention a scrum that took place in front of the Red Wing bench just 3:33 into the game. Andrew Shaw of the Hawks engaged both Henrik Zetterberg and Valtteri Filppula on a line change. Shaw's sweater was grabbed by Kyle Quincey, who was seated on the Wings bench. Shaw finished the scrum by picking Filppula up and slamming him to the ice. The Red Wing star forward was injured on the play and did not return to action. No penalties were assessed on this play; neither to Shaw as the aggressor or coincidental in nature.

With a couple of minutes remaining in regulation time it was most obvious that Quincey was the aggressor when he finished the check on Brandon Saad and knocked/pushed the Hawk player with suspended animation on the top dasher board and into the Red Wings bench. In an effort to regain his balance and extricate him from the bench Saad reached and grabbed the back of Quincey's helmet causing it to fall off. Quincey then pulled and slammed Saad to the ice causing the Hawk player to land hard on his back. The worst that Brandon Saad did at this point was taking a weak cuff with his right glove hand at Quincey as the Red Wing defenceman bent over Saad. The minimal response from Saad did not equate to coincidental minor penalties being given and I see no justification for stopping the play.

If any penalty was deemed worthy by the trailing Referee (and I can certainly live with no call similar to that on Shaw-Filppula) it should have been assessed to Kyle Quincey exclusively. Since Chicago was in possession of the puck a delayed penalty would be signaled 'IF' one was to be called.

As the 'scrum' ensued in the neutral zone Referee Walkom, as the trailing referee, had the luxury of time and full vision of the ice from this vantage point. He should have not only observed Saad's minimal participation in response to being the recipient of the hit, but most importantly the lack of consequence this activity had on the play in the end zone 90 feet away with the Hawks in possession of the puck and a potential scoring opportunity. This is not the time for a referee to develop tunnel vision.

The best course of action for any referee, especially one with Stephen Walkom's experience, should have been to skate to Quincey and Saad (as he did) but instead of deciding to stop the play, Referee Walkom should have verbally instructed both players to get up and move on thereby allowing play to continue. No harm-no foul would be the ultimate and appropriate verdict rendered. 

Justice was later served and a bullet was dodged when Chicago scored in OT to win the game and series.

Kerry Fraser

Kerry Fraser

Kerry Fraser is an analyst for the NHL on TSN and That's Hockey 2Nite on TSN2. As one of the league's most recognizable senior referees, he's worked 1,904 NHL regular season games and 261 playoff games during his 37-year career.

Got a question on rule clarification, comments on rule enforcements or some memorable NHL stories? Kerry wants to answer your emails at!

You can also follow Kerry Fraser on Twitter at @kfraserthecall!

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