Toronto defenseman Roman Polak sat in the penalty box, convicted for a crime he didn’t commit.
Unexpectedly, his sentence was overturned. Polak was released from his brief imprisonment.
Polak was initially penalized for high-sticking Panthers forward Jonathan Huberdeau with 1:06 to play in the second period of Tuesday night’s game. After the on-ice officials discussed the play, they caught the replay on the scoreboard. Additional conversation took place between the zebras, presumably based on the video evidence, which showed that the puck – not Polak’s stick – caught Huberdeau.
“After reviewing with the other officials,” announced referee Kevin Pollock, “it was determined that it was the puck that hit the face, therefore no high stick [penalty].”
The penalty was cancelled. Polak returned to the Maple Leafs’ bench.
“I’ve never seen that before,” said Polak. “They set me free. It happens. They can’t see everything.”
“After the play I went after the referee and said, ‘Thanks, you didn’t have to do that,’ ” Polak added. “[Referee Kevin Pollock] was like, ‘Everybody’s making a mistake. If we make a mistake why not get it better. ’ It was a classy move.”
While the officials are encouraged to come together and discuss a call, only certain goal-related situations are officially eligible for video review.
NHL Director of Officiating Stephen Walkom supported the call and the somewhat-unorthodox approach to getting it right.
“Not normal practice, just one of those rare times where it was noticed by one of the crew it was a puck not the stick so they corrected themselves,” said Walkom.
Florida Panthers head coach Tom Rowe argued the reversal during the game, later conceding that the officials made the right call on the play.
“Everybody in the whole place knows what’s right, so I don’t get what the big deal is,” said Leafs head coach Mike Babcock. “Why wouldn’t we be just happy we got it right? It takes two seconds. Look at the big screen. Get it right. Everyone goes home happy.”