Nashville Predators forward Derek Grant thought he’d opened the scoring against the Vancouver Canucks on Tuesday night, only to find his attempt foiled by the whistle.  Grant’s goal was disallowed after referee Ghislain Hebert advised that he’d intended to blow his whistle on the play.

“We were all in there jamming away,” said Grant. “I thought it was a good goal on the ice, and then I guess he changed his mind later on. That’s just the way this game works sometimes.”

 

 

“I don’t understand it at all myself, I don’t understand any explanation I got tonight. None,” Laviolette said. “It’s frustrating. We’re in a playoff battle and we need every point. So we’re walking away with none tonight.”

Here’s the official word from the NHL:

At 15:10 of the first period in the Predators/Canucks game, the puck entered the Vancouver net and after the four on-ice officials huddled, the final on-ice decision was “no goal.”

The referee then informed the Situation Room that he was in the process of blowing his whistle to stop play when Ryan Miller covered the puck with his blocker, before the puck crossed the goal line.

According to Rule 78.5, apparent goals shall be disallowed “when the Referee deems the play has been stopped, even if he had not physically had the opportunity to stop play by blowing his whistle.” This is not a reviewable play, therefore the final on-ice decision stands – no goal Nashville

 

There’s no arguing that rule, as frustrating as ‘intent to blow’ can be at times. There’s certainly times when it’s simply not possible to sound the whistle fast enough, particularly on a scrum in front of the net.

There’s even the likelihood that, for the referee, his positioning atop the net may have impacted his ability to quickly blow the whistle once the puck was covered.

It’s not only likely.  It’s probably the right call.

If you listen closely, you can even hear a whistle sound right before the puck crosses the line.

What makes the explanation tough for fans to swallow is what happened after the whistle was intended to be blown:

  • The referee emphatically signaled a goal. Hebert has his whistle raised as he watches the play. Appears he brings it to his lips once, possibly twice. If we’re looking for ‘intent’ on this play, it’s there. What was confusing was the goal call immediately after rather than a washout, which one would expect after the whistle had been blown.

 

  • Officials huddled to discuss.  Having the crew come together to discuss a play is a great officiating practice. You get feedback from four sets of eyes watching the play for four unique angles. On this play, though, there’s little chance any of the other officials had a better view of the action in the crease – and the location of the puck – than the referee who had literally climbed on the net.  It’s likely the other officials would defer to Hebert as the lead ref on the play when it comes to blowing the whistle to stop play.

 

  • Lengthy review when intent to blow is not reviewable.  The Situation Room will often take a look at a play in an attempt to determine whether the puck crossed the line, only to be told that the referee intended to blow his whistle. In these cases, the Situation Room’s findings are irrelevant.  If the referee intended to blow his whistle, the play is dead.  There’s no video review checking for the position of the whistle as the puck crossed the line.  There’s no audio review to listen for precisely when the whistle sounded.  Intent to blow is not reviewable. That’s up to the on-ice crew at the time of the play.  If Hebert had intended to blow the whistle, that’s all that needed to be said.In explaining the call, Hebert advised the crowd, “After review, it was determined that intent to blow the whistle happened prior to the puck going into the net.”  This may be true, but that wasn’t from the review.

 

It’s a frustrating situation, especially for Predators fans.

Ultimately, you can’t argue the call. It’s in line with previous ‘intent to blow’ situations where the official lost sight of the puck and deemed the play dead, with the puck squirting loose before the whistle actually sounded.

As for the events that followed and explanation, there’s some room for improvement. From the fans’ perspective, it looked a lot worse than it was.