By Allan Muir
There are blown calls every single day in the NHL, and as long as we’re sticking with human officials that’s not changing any time soon.
But blown calls are one thing.
This is something else.
As one veteran hockey official told me after watching the play tonight, “First thing I thought: we won’t be seeing [linesman Derek Amell] in the playoffs.”
Amell was in perfect position as the play unfolded directly in front of him, unscreened, and yet somehow missed that Colorado’s Matt Duchene was about five feet deep in the zone before the puck followed him across the blue line. Duchene was actually looking back at the puck the whole time.
Naturally, Nashville coach Barry Trotz was apoplectic after the play, but to his undying credit he was a human being himself following the game.
“The league already verified it should have been an offside,” he told reporters. “They thought we passed it back. It’s just one of those things. Everybody has a bad day.”
He’s right, of course, and that’s why in his mind there was no point in him belaboring the issue any further. Besides, he had a bigger problem that he could address: his normally airtight team gave up five perfectly legal goals in the wild 6-5 loss.
But by reacting in such a mature fashion, Trotz missed an opportunity to strike a blow for the greater good. Yes, everyone has bad days, but there sure have been a lot of ‘em already this season. Not all of them have led to goals, but cases like this illustrate why the NHL needs to implement a coach’s challenge, a once-per-game opportunity to ask for a review on a scoring play.
Trotz could build a pretty convincing case to help the fraternity with this blunder. Here’s hoping he pursues it quietly with the league over the next few days.
And let’s not forget to award full marks here to Duchene, who did what exactly every coach tells every kid to do: play to the whistle. He knew he was offside by a mile but he kept his feet moving, picked up the puck and beat Chris Mason with a beauty of a snipe. Smart play.