The NHL has apologized to the Vegas Golden Knights for the five-minute major penalty call in Game 7. The penalty came late in the third period with the Golden Knights leading San Jose 3-0. The Sharks scored four times with the man advantage en route to a 5-4 overtime win.
“It was a bad call, and we want to recognize that it was a mistake,” said the league, as relayed by team owner Bill Foley.
The league also contacted Golden Knights general manager George MacPhee.
George McPhee said the NHL did reach out to him, and appologized for the officiating in Game 7.
— Jesse Granger (@JesseGranger_) April 25, 2019
The NHL’s public statement, issued by series supervisor Don Van Massenhoven, fell short of acknowledging the penalty as a bad call.
“The referees called a crosschecking penalty for an infraction that caused a significant injury. In their judgment, the infraction and its result merited a major penalty.”
While the NHL’s statement was factual, it offered little in the way of an explanation — especially in contrast to what was told to Golden Knights’ head coach Gerard Gallant during the game.
“[The referees] said he cross-checked him across the face, and as we all saw, that didn’t happen,” Gallant said after Tuesday night’s game. “There was no high-stick that hit him in the face. When Stastny came out, [Pavelski] fell and banged his head on the ice. That’s the unfortunate part of it. It was an awful call. We’ve all seen it. It’s too bad we end up losing because of that because we’re in control of the hockey game.”
Now, two days later, it seems that the league has taken a different tact.
They’ve also made a change to their officiating lineup.
The two referees from Game 7 – Eric Furlatt and Dan O’Halloran – have been benched for the remainder of the playoffs. Neither veteran official was selected to move forward. O’Halloran, who leads all active referees with 212 playoff appearances, has been a postseason mainstay; he hasn’t missed a Conference Final in over a decade and has ten Stanley Cup Finals under his belt. Furlatt has handled 126 postseason matches.
“The first I’ve heard of it, right now,” Gallant said of O’Halloran’s and Furlatt’s omission from the Round 2 officiating crews. “All the officials in that game are real good officials and they’re real good guys. That’s all I’ve got to say.”
Additional changes may be on the way, with Golden Knights owner Bill Foley planning to lead the charge to allow video review of major penalties at the league’s upcoming Board of Governor’s Meeting, according to The Athletic’s Jesse Granger.