The official results of the NHL games played last night show that the Columbus Blue Jackets lost to the Los Angeles Kings 3-2 in regulation time in Los Angeles. However, this was an unjust result. In reality, this game should have gone to overtime, and we will never know what the true result of the game should have been. Let me explain why.
First, let me say I was not at the game. I was in Kelowna, British Columbia watching the CHL Top Prospects Game, which sees all the top draft eligible kids from the Canadian Hockey League come together for one game. I got to see top prospects such as: Ryan Murray, Matt Dumba, Mikhail Grigorenko, Radek Faksa and Griffin Reinhart compete against each other. I did not see our game on television and most of the information I received was from our coaches and (Blue Jackets Senior Advisor, Hockey Operations) Craig Patrick, who was at the game, and (Blue Jackets Assistant General Manager) Chris MacFarland, who was watching on television.
Drew Doughty apparently scored the winning goal on a power play with under one second to go in the third period. After talking to our coaches, and depending on how you analyze the video, the puck crossed the line with between 0.6 and 0.4 seconds remaining. Let’s just say for argument’s sake the puck crossed the line with 0.6 seconds left. When the coaches went back to the video room to review the winning goal, they noticed the clock stopped with 1.8 seconds left for at least one second and immediately went down the hall to alert the referees of the situation.
I spoke with (NHL Senior Executive Vice President of Hockey Operations) Colin Campbell on two occasions after the game. Sometimes in watching the game on television there can be confusion with respect to the game clock. Some television broadcasts use their own game clock that is not official with the rink. However, and after double checking, Colin confirmed that we were actually seeing the official game clock stop for one full second. Therefore, when you do the math, Drew Doughty actually scored 0.4 seconds after time had expired, which means the goal should have been disallowed and should have gone to overtime. Colin has promised me that the NHL will investigate this to try and figure out how this happened.
It is an amazing coincidence that with the Kings on a power play at STAPLES Center and with a mad scramble around our net in the dying seconds of the third period of a 2-2 hockey game that the clock stopped for at least one full second. I can only think of two ways in which this would have happened. Either there was a deliberate stopping of the clock or the clock malfunctioned.
It’s easy to say that this doesn’t matter. We, the Blue Jackets, are in last place and it is likely not going to affect our place in the standings. However, in my opinion, this matters in many respects. It matters to our players, to our coaches, every person in our organization and our fans. In talking with our coaches and Craig Patrick, our players played with passion, tenacity, grit, determination and competitiveness after a rather embarrassing loss in San Jose the night before. This tremendous effort was put in without four of our top six defensemen (James Wisniewski, Nikita Nikitin, Marc Methot and Radek Martinek) and with Jeff Carter, Ryan Johansen, Mark Letestu and Kristian Huselius also out of the lineup. We will never know if we should have had one point or two points in the standings. What we do know is that we should not have had zero. Anyone who has competed at a high level of sports knows that when you put everything into a game, the result matters. And to have the result altered unfairly stings.
In addition, this result matters to every other team in the Western Conference that is competing with Los Angeles for a playoff spot. We will never know if the Kings would have got the extra point in overtime or shootout, but they may not have. This extra point in the standings could have an enormous impact both competitively and economically. What if the Kings make the playoffs by one point or gain home ice advantage by one point? We could be talking about a team not making the playoffs and missing out on millions of dollars in playoff gates. No one can ever convince me that this result does not matter.
We anxiously await the results of the NHL’s investigation.
As always, I thank for your support of Blue Jackets hockey. As a reminder, you can follow me on Twitter at @GMScottHowson.