Fraser: Intent to blow whistle a factor in called off goal

Kerry Fraser
11/7/2013 1:53:56 PM
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Hello Mr. Fraser,
I am curious about the apparent game-winning goal scored by San Jose in OT last night (11/5/13) against Buffalo and how Toronto didn't catch it. It looks to me like the goal was scored and the whistle had not been blown. The shot off the post and the scrum after looked confusing enough to me for the officials to have stopped the game and gone to review? Do you have any insight on this?
Randy Markham
Oakland, CA


It wasn't a case of Toronto not catching it when Tommy Wingels jammed the puck from under Ryan Miller's blocker and into the net for what appeared to be the game winning goal in overtime. The men in the Toronto Situation Room were in fact reviewing that play, as they do all close calls around the net, once the puck hit the goal post and eventually crossed the goal line. Had the Situation Room spoken with Referee Mike Leggo via the headset they would have only been able to inform the ref that the puck had in fact crossed the goal line and entered the net and not when they heard the sound of his whistle.

This became an unnecessary telephone communication once the Referee determined the play was dead with an "intent was to blow the whistle" prior to the puck being jammed loose and across the goal line. The Refs decision to stop the play is not a reviewable situation.

The mind is always quicker than the whistle hand! For this reason rule 31.2 was instituted to compensate for the delay between the Official's visual determination that the play is dead and the physical action of blowing the whistle. Rule 31.2 reads as follows: "As there is a human factor involved in blowing the whistle to stop play, the Referee may deem the play to be stopped slightly prior to the whistle actually being blown. The fact that the puck may come loose or cross the goal line prior to the sound of the whistle has no bearing if the Referee has ruled that the play had been stopped prior to this happening."

In reviewing the play we see Referee Leggo holding an extended wash-out signal once the initial shot struck the goal post and rebounded under Buffalo goalie Ryan Miller. As evidenced by the camera angle from the broadcast feed, similar to the sightline the referee had on the play, the puck then disappears under Miller's blocker glove and appears to be covered. At this point Leggo would have clearly lost sight of the puck but paused momentarily to blow his whistle to ensure that the goalkeeper had full control of the puck and that it did not squirt loose.

The Ref had to also be aware of the potential for Tommy Wingels to jam at the goalkeeper and dislodge a frozen puck. Referee Mike Leggo created some confusion on this play when he was slow in transitioning from his initial extended washout signal when the puck hit the post, to the point where Miller covered the puck and it was eventually poked free and into the net by Tommy Wingels.

I concede the optics of this slow decision was bad but Referee Leggo ultimately made the correct determination that the puck was sufficiently frozen by Ryan Miller. It would have been unfair to allow Tommy Wingles to unearth a frozen puck and jam it into the net. The net result was the Ref's intent to blow the play dead prior to the puck entering the net. A quicker whistle (or intent to blow the whistle) by the Referee would have eliminated any controversy on this play. Any discussion with the Situation Room would have only added to the confusion since the play could not be reviewed.

Right call made - poor execution!

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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