NHL: Count Wild among review critics
ST. PAUL -- When Wild coach John Torchetti lost his coach's challenge Sunday at the Xcel Energy Center, the boos were so thunderous that it was difficult to hear anything after referee Justin St. Pierre declared his ruling.Underneath the din, Tor...
ST. PAUL - When Wild coach John Torchetti lost his coach’s challenge Sunday at the Xcel Energy Center, the boos were so thunderous that it was difficult to hear anything after referee Justin St. Pierre declared his ruling.
Underneath the din, Torchetti - who had claimed the St. Louis Blues were offsides on the rush that netted a first-period goal - asked a nearby ref to watch the replay on large screen above center ice. While fans continued voicing their disapproval, Wild goalie Devan Dubnyk pleaded his case.
Referees upheld their original call, and Minnesota went on to lose 4-2.
But the play, and Dubnyk’s comments afterward, has sparked debate in these parts over whether NHL referees should continue to review coach’s challenges - which is in its first season in the NHL - or whether an independent group should review every play.
“You’re asking good referees that are proud guys to overturn calls that they just made,” Dubnyk said. “Don’t get me wrong, these are the best referees in the world - hands down. But you’re asking a guy to go look at a video in front of 20,000 people and overturn a call he just made. It doesn’t make sense.”
The controversy started when the Blues took a 2-0 lead Sunday on a play where Kyle Brodziak skated into the offensive zone before the puck went in. Linesman Brian Mach initially ruled Brodziak had possession of the puck as he skated backward, which would mean he gained the zone legally.
The Wild believe video showed former teammate Brodziak entered the zone without possession, but determining control can be subjective, and referees ruled there wasn’t enough evidence to overturn the call.
“This is the play that they brought the coach’s challenge in for - this exact play,” Dubnyk said. “It’s so offside that both our defensemen stopped playing, and all of a sudden they have twice as much room as they would because both our guys stopped playing. You have guys on the other bench that are laughing after the goal is called, and I mean, it’s just added to the list of interesting calls on challenges around the league this year.
“You want to say he has possession? If you put that video up and you didn’t know what that call was - if it was offside or onside - and you (asked) if he has possession or not, I think it’s pretty obvious. But you’ve got the guy that made the call on the ice that’s looking at the iPad and making the call again, it doesn’t really make much sense.”
The Wild got within a goal, trailing 3-2 before an empty netter sealed the Blues’ win.
“Those calls seem to be what determine the game,” Wild forward Ryan Carter said. “It’s not like the game ended 4-1 and it’s a non-issue. That’s the unfortunate part. Was it offside? It looked like it to me, but I don’t make those calls.”
Most on the Wild weren’t as decisive as Dubnyk.
Torchetti declined to say whether he felt it was a conflict of interest for referees to make rulings on their own calls.
“You’ve got to trust the system; that’s the bottom line for me going forward,” he said. “ … They made the call, and that’s the final word, so we move on.”
But the play renewed debate over whether an independent crew should review all challenged plays. A crew at the league office in Toronto, for instance, reviews controversial goals with the help of the overhead camera.
“You can’t have the guy on the ice making the call on an iPad that’s 4 inches big,” Dubnyk said. “It doesn’t make sense. … There’s enough technology to go elsewhere for it.”