Last week, the Los Angeles Kings fell to the Ottawa Senators by a 1-0 score. They could’ve taken an early lead in the game if not for a quick whistle by referee Ian Walsh.
Senators goaltender Andrew Hammond stopped the initial point shot from Drew Doughty, but was unable to corral the rebound. From Ian Walsh’s vantage point, moving in from the near boards, it appeared the puck as underneath Hammond. Walsh blew his whistle just as Kings forward Justin Williams fired the loose puck into the net. The goal was immediately waved off.
The play was not eligible for review, as Walsh had – rightly or wrongly – intended to stop play. Once the whistle blows, or when the referee intends to blow it, that effectively brings a stop to the action.
“[There’s] not much to say. The ref sees what he sees and blows the whistle when he thought it was covered,” said Los Angeles forward Dwight King. “Everybody else sees it a little different from different angles.”
To his credit, the angle Walsh had was a good one. He was well-positioned for plays at the net, having skated out in front of the goal line. Hammond just obstructed his view when the puck was at the goaltender’s right side.
Referee Ian Walsh worked the Kings’ next game, the following night in Anaheim. There, he offered an apology for the quick whistle on Williams’ near-goal.
“They apologized to us several times,” said Kings coach Darryl Sutter. “An apology doesn’t do us any good. It should be 1-0. [Referee Ian Walsh] apologized again [at the Kings’ next game in Anaheim].
While it might not have helped with the Kings’ points in the standings, it’s nice to hear about an apology from the officiating crew. Everyone knows you won’t get 100% of the calls right. The goal isn’t necessarily to call a perfect game, but to call a fair one. In that regard, teams and their fans certainly appreciate hearing that there was an acknowledgement of error and an apology.
It also helps remind everyone that, yes, refs are human, too.