RALEIGH, N.C. — On the heels of yet another officiating controversy in the Stanley Cup playoffs, Carolina Hurricanes coach Rod Brind’Amour passionately advocated for expanded video review.
“It’s been time forever,” Brind’Amour said Thursday. “It’s time to get the calls right, because it’s just too important. Games matter so much. That was tough last night to watch.”
Brind’Amour was referring to the NHL’s latest officiating snafu, in overtime of Game 3 of the Western Conference finals between the San Jose Sharks and St. Louis Blues. Erik Karlsson‘s overtime winner counted, giving the Sharks a 5-4 victory. However, it should have been whistled down considering the assist was off a hand pass from teammate Timo Meier.
The NHL’s Rule 79 specifically states that a player can’t bat the puck with his hand to a teammate or allow “his team to gain an advantage.”
However, the league said in a statement: “Plays of this nature are not reviewable. A hand pass that goes into the net can be reviewed, but a hand pass between teammates cannot be reviewed.”
Kay Whitmore, the NHL’s supervisor of officials for the series, told a pool reporter: “It’s a nonreviewable play. You can read between the lines. You can figure out what you want. You watched the video. But it’s just nonreviewable. I know that sounds like a cop-out answer, but that’s the truth.”
That incensed the Blues — GM Doug Armstrong slammed his hand on the door of the officials’ dressing room, yelling that the decision was “f—ing garbage” — as well as many around the NHL, including Brind’Amour.
“Help the refs,” Brind’Amour said. “These refs are great refs. A lot of you can’t tell. I’m telling you. So many of the calls, I don’t really know. I look down to see, then I lose my mind because I know it was the wrong call, but they can’t be expected to make those calls like that. It’s way too hard.”
Brind’Amour said he believes there’s “an easy solution.”
The coach’s suggested fix?
“Take two refs off the ice,” said Brind’Amour, who had a 20-year NHL career before retiring in 2010. “Put them in the penalty box — have their skates on if they want. One guy can be watching the calls. The linesman can be watching the offsides. Get them out of the way. They’re getting in the way. It’s hard, the game is so fast. You watch how often the puck hits them. To me, you can get these calls done quickly and done right, and that’s all you want. As a player, as a coach, as a fan. You just want to make sure you get the calls right. I think. But we’ll see.”
After Wednesday night’s game, San Jose captain Joe Pavelski admitted his team might have lucked out on the call.
“Everyone keeps talking about the hand pass, so there must have been something there,” Pavelski said. “But at the end of the day, there are calls that go both ways. That’s the playoffs.”
The captain added: “[The refs are] not trying to screw anybody. They really aren’t. They’re good guys. May not always seem that way, but tonight, we may have caught a break. But there were a lot of breaks going both ways all night, all series.”
ESPN’s Greg Wyshynski contributed to this report.