Mike Murphy, the NHL's senior vice president of hockey operations, explained Thursday on NHL Live! why the controversial no-goal call by referee Dennis LaRue in the Detroit-Dallas game Wednesday night was not reviewable.
Brad May had an apparent game-tying goal 6:24 into the third period waved off because LaRue had intent to blow the whistle, which is different from actually blowing the whistle, Murphy said. The Red Wings went on to lose, 3-1.
"The way we've always handled it and the way we will continue to handle it until we have a procedure change is the referees call on the ice stands. He sees the shot and he sees the save and doesn't see the puck in the net and kills the play or blows the whistle," Murphy said. "It's not when you hear the whistle blow, it's when he intends to blow the whistle. There is a little bit of a gray area there between when he intends and when the whistle sounds.
"In this case Dennis LaRue was clear with what he saw and clear with what he interpreted and that was, 'I had killed the play before the puck entered the net.' When we scrutinize it and go through video review I think everybody would concede that the puck was in the net, and Dennis didn't see that unfortunately."
Murphy agreed that the puck "does go into the net on the original shot," but having not spoken to LaRue yet he could only assume that the referee lost sight of the puck when it hit goalie Alex Auld's pad and that's where the intent to blow the whistle comes into play.
Murphy's explanation of how these decisions are made also sheds light onto why LaRue's original call stood.
"In this particular case, what would happen is we (in the League's video replay room in Toronto) would see the puck in the net and call the video goal judge and say, 'Please blow the horn and get the referee over here. We see a puck in the net that hasn't been ruled a goal,' " Murphy said. "At that point the referee would come over and we would have the discussion. Usually the referees know exactly what's happening and they would come to us and say, 'Listen, I blew the whistle or my intent to blow the whistle was there. I've got this play dead before the puck crosses the goal line.' No more need be said. Once we hear that, basically video review is now out of the process. We step aside and say it's a call made on the ice and it's a non-reviewable call. It's a whistle blown by the referee and it was blown or the intent to blow it was before the puck crossed the goal line."
Murphy said the league's hockey operations group will "internalize and see if we can come up with a better solution or a better answer. If there is one we'll find one."
But Murphy warns that too much video review is not a good thing.
"In all cases we want to get the right call. In this case it appears we didn't," Murphy said. "But, I think sometimes when you have video review people expect perfection and that's never the case and we only let the fan down when they think it's going to be perfect. There are situations where video review can't intercede and we don't want it to intercede. I don't think you ever want video review refereeing a game.
"I like the way video review is. I think it works and you have to be careful how much you tinker with it."