Fraser: Referee changes mind on goal call after conferring

Kerry Fraser
10/21/2013 1:57:02 PM
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In the Predators/Habs game Saturday night, Montreal's second, go-ahead goal was ultimately disallowed after review (I believe the ref stated that after all four officials determined that the puck had not crossed the line). Now, correct me if I'm wrong but I saw one official distinctly pointing at the net indicating a good goal but after an inconclusive review they overturned the goal.  Shouldn't the ruling on the ice (good goal) stand after an inconclusive review?  Why was this overturned? 

James Veaudry

Pembroke, ON


Hey Kerry,

You'll get a lot of these, but why was the Montreal goal against Nashville Saturday night overturned?

Eller puts the puck on net and the on ice ruling from the ref behind the net is a Montreal goal. After much delay, the same ref announces that after a review with all on ice officials, the ruling is the puck never crossed the goal line.

How is this possible? I've always believed that if the video review is inconclusive, which it obviously was, then the call on ice stands. How is the other ref from the blue line supposed to tell if a puck crosses the line? Let alone be able to overrule the ref inches away.

The ref simply changed his mind after the play. Is that allowed? Sounds pretty shady to me. 




Hi Kerry!

Last night I was bouncing out of my chair with excitement when the red light came on, Lars Eller celebrated and the referee pointed indicating a goal in the third period. Then suddenly the referee's decided to review the play as there was question about whether the puck had actually crossed the line. After watching the replay's myself, it was unclear whether the puck made it over the line or not because it was hidden under Rinne's body. Seeing this, I was all but sure that the goal had to stand, because from my understanding the referees needed undeniable evidence to over-turn an on-ice call.

But that wasn't the case.

The referee announced that "The four referees agree that the puck did not enter the net" which indicated to this viewer that, they too were unsure but had a chat about it, and I suppose used their judgment, to deicide the puck had never crossed the line.

What I don't understand is how they can make this new judgment with inconclusive evidence? Moreover, how a referee can clearly call a goal a goal, and then change his opinion moments later?

Could you clear up my confusion with the rules on this matter?




To All Disappointed Habs Fans:

Upon further information gathering from all vantage points on the ice by the officiating crew, including a seemingly definitive confirmation from the situation room video review, the referee on the goal line changed his initial quick reaction decision and correctly determined that the puck did not cross the goal line - no goal!

At no time do we see the puck cross the goal line on this play. The official statement found on the Situation Room blog posting at is as follows; “Video review determined that Montreal Canadiens forward Lars Eller's shot did not cross the goal line. No goal Montreal.”  (See Situation Room review here.

Having witnessed referee Chris Rooney point to the net to signal a goal I trust it is the referee's announcement that is causing you confusion (“The call on the ice by the four officials that the puck did not cross the goal line and that is confirmed (by video review)…”) and not the correct final decision that was ultimately rendered. All confusion would have been eliminated had the announcement by the referee simply been; “Video review has confirmed that the puck did not cross the goal line, the initial call on the ice is overturned - no goal.” Let me explain the protocol and how the process most likely worked in this situation.

In the event that video review returns an “inconclusive” verdict the referees are required to make a decision (communicated with a point into the net or washout signal) from their vantage point when it appears the puck has entered the net. Sometimes the “vantage point” a referee has in that moment is not always the best one. For this reason, the four officials on the ice are required to conference and provide input from their respective vantage points as an added ‘safety check.' This is in addition to video review that takes place. Through the conference process considerable doubt must have been created in referee Rooney's mind and caused him to change his initial reaction to the play.

The obvious answer is the referee needs to see the puck cross the line before pointing to the net. In real time other factors can complicate this decision. In fairness on this play, the referee's approach to the net was from the opposite corner from behind the goal line.  This route caused an obstructed view looking through the net and the back of Predators' sprawled goalie Pekka Rinne. The ref's focus was also split between a penalty that he signaled to David Legwand for cross-checking Eller just as the Montreal forward flipped the puck toward Rinne. With Rinne's body position sprawled deep into the net and across the goal line, Rooney's gut reaction and instinct told him the puck had crossed the line from his vantage point. As required, the ref made his initial decision but once a consultation took place with the other crew members Rooney correctly changed his opinion on the play.

It would have been less confusing and more efficient had the ref not communicated the result of the Officiating Crew's ‘internal process' that caused him to change his initial decision on the play. In the end the right decision was rendered.

Sometimes the less said the better!

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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