Thomas Vanek scored the game-winning overtime goal for the New York Islanders on Saturday. Referee Rob Martell pointed emphatically at the net, indicating a goal. Blues goaltender Jaroslav Halak skated, dejected, off the ice. The Islanders celebrating, having picked up a very hard-earned two points as they try to claw their way out of the Metropolitan Division basement.
Only… they didn’t.
The NHL’s Situation Room reviewed the play – as they do with every goal – and called this one back. No goal on the play.
Now, this wasn’t an inconclusive review. If it were, they’d have to defer to the ruling of the referee on the ice. That referee, veteran Rob Martell, called it a goal. No, this was clearly a case where they felt the video evidence was strong enough to overrule the official.
It didn’t look like a distinct kicking motion to me. Heck, it looked more like Alex Steen’s skate pushed Vanek’s skate into the puck. It certainly didn’t look conclusive enough to call the goal back.
Here’s the official word from the NHL:
At 3:45 of overtime in the Blues/Islanders game, video review determined that New York’s Thomas Vanek used his left skate to kick the puck into the St. Louis net. According to Rule 49.2 “A goal cannot be scored by an attacking player who uses a distinct kicking motion to propel the puck into the net.” No goal New York Islanders.
That was a distinct kicking motion? Was I watching the same video? Looks like a few others agree:
Inexplicable. That's the only way to explain the NHL Toronto office disallowing #Vanek's OT goal at Nassau. Unless you have a better idea.
— Stan Fischler (@StanFischler) January 26, 2014
Just saw Vanek disallowed goal v StL .. Awful call IMO, this rule is a mess …
— Ray Ferraro (@rayferrarotsn) January 25, 2014
Another person who disagreed was Islanders forward Thomas Vanek, off whose skate the puck was deflected in. He took the call a bit more personally.
“I don’t know [having that goal disallowed is because of] who we are. “If that’s Pittsburgh or a top team, that’s maybe a goal. It’s just a terrible call. We all know what a kicking motion is.”
Vanek can expect to lose a few dollars for that one.
Isles head coach Jack Capuano agreed, though he was a bit more indirect in the lone comment he made on the topic, saying, “To me, the referees made the right call on the ice.”
Toronto, what were you watching? More importantly, NHL General Managers and Board of Governors, were you watching?
It’s time to revisit the kicking rule. As much as we can criticize the Situation Room’s interpretation of the play, the fact is that the rule needs to be changed. The league needs to take another look at the legality of kicked-in goals.