It was a classic Wild West duel.  One one side, rookie gunslinger Connor McDavid, with nine points in his first nine NHL games.  On the other, goaltender Jonathan Quick, with two Stanley Cup rings and one Conn Smythe Trophy on his mantle.  Time was running out. With the Oilers trailing by one in the waning seconds of Sunday’s game, McDavid found the puck on his stick and fired it towards the net. Quick dove, blocking the shot with his glove. 

Referee Rob Martell raced over from the corner and grabbed hold of the net. He appeared to be expecting to see the puck in the net.  The shot had been stopped.  But had it crossed the line?



The NHL’s Situation Room weighed in. Despite the multitude of camera angles, none conclusively showed the puck completely over the line.

Refereee Rob Martell delivered the news. After video review, the call on the ice stands.  No goal.

“He made a good save,” McDavid said of his foiled attempt. “I thought it could have gone in. Obviously it’s pretty tough to see if his glove kind of covered it up over there. Tough play.”

Officially, the NHL’s determination was that the video review was inconclusive in determining whether the puck crossed the line. Nearly all replay angles were blocked by Quick’s glove.  One angle – via a photographer along the glass – appeared to be the most convincing, but even that isn’t 100% conclusive based on the angle. 



TSN’s Bob McKenzie was asked on TSN690 if McDavid’s goal was in.

“Probably, but we don’t know for absolutely certainty,” said McKenzie.

McKenzie also discussed the challenges with parallax view.

“Because your eyes play tricks on you when there’s an angle involved, the NHL will not use that and solely that as conclusive proof to overturn a goal. While it looked like the puck was across the line — and it probably was, it probably was — but the call on the ice was no goal. The overhead, which is really the only was you can see it, was inconclusive because the puck was under the glove and the glove wasn’t entirely in the net.”

“That’s the way it goes. It’s a tough one. Common sense would suggest that it was a goal, but they don’t get to overturn goals on common sense.”

Referee Rob Martell discusses the goal with Toronto as Dan O'Rourke looks on

Referee Rob Martell discusses the goal with Toronto as Dan O’Rourke looks on

Oilers head coach Todd McLellan was diplomatic in his displeasure.

“It was ruled a non-goal on the ice and we were told the review was not definitive enough to overturn,” McLellan said. “We are at the mercy of the referee and the league and they are doing their best to make the right call. We don’t have to agree with it, but it’s made and we have to move on.”

“We’ve  got the replay right there [on the bench],”Kings coach Darryl Sutter said, “So if on the ice it’s no goal, it has to be conclusive from the league and clearly it’s under his glove,” 

A Goal-Line Solution?

The NHL is continually searching for ways to help its officials make the right calls.  For the 2014 postseason, the league added goal-post cameras to help with goal-line plays. Those cameras are in place at all 30 NHL venues.  In this case, though, the post-cam wouldn’t have helped, as Quick’s glove obscured the puck. 

THN’s Ryan Kennedy argues the value of a technological solution to the perpetual puck positioning problem:

This isn’t about taking power out of the refs’ hands. The officials by and large do an excellent job, but human eyesight has not improved at the same rate as the pace of a hockey game. These plays happen maybe a handful of times each season, so any puck sensor technology would likely be counted on sparingly.

The result would be more accuracy in the game and that’s a positive.

More accuracy. Better calls. That’s what the fans want, what the officials want, and what the league wants. A technological solution may not be too far off, but it’ll have to work flawlessly before the league moves to implement it.

Until then, just remember – players, fans, and officials – they’re all human.  On Sunday, this whole controversy came about because of the amazing talents of two of those humans – the gunslinger and the goaltender. 

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