Stars’ Benn suspended two games for cross-checking, Rank hits the links, five for stomping at the World Championship, double-dipping on Dallas, cup checking Tkachuk, a missed call on Ghost, and possible goaltender interference on the Panthers’ series-winner vs. Carolina, and more!
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Episode Transcript #165 Five for Stomping, Two for Falling Down
Scouting the Refs is an unscripted audio podcast, designed to be heard. It’s a whole lot more interesting to listen to the audio, but we’re happy to provide a transcription below. This transcript has been generated using a combination of speech recognition software and human transcribers, and may contain textual or typographical errors.
Todd: It’s the season where those in the hockey business eventually shift over to golf and let’s give a shout out to NHL referee Garrett Rank, who is not just playing golf, but Josh, he’s playing golf quite successfully at the moment.
Josh: He is! At the USA Amateur Four-ball, he had a pretty good run. Didn’t quite make it all the way to the championship match, but made it through the round of 32 to the round of 16. Good for him for getting back out there and I don’t know if you recall in years past, he’s competed at amateur tournaments and actually had to leave a USGA qualifier because he was called by the NHL to be on standby for a Blues playoff game. He’s balancing both and nice to see him find some time out on the links this summer.
Todd: Two sport athlete. I love it. It doesn’t happen very often, but we get to see it here. This is the Scouting the Refs Podcast. Please make sure you follow us on social channels. Josh is available on Twitter and Instagram at @scoutingtherefs. Of course, you’ll get me at @toddlewissports, on Twitter and Instagram
On this week’s episode: The rare double dip; Benn sticks the landing; a skate stomp gets you five; and the department of Player safety gives… and it takes away. Are you intrigued by that last one, Josh?
Josh: They rarely take away, so absolutely, Todd.
Todd: Ah, this one’s quite the story as well. Okay, let’s go back a few days, because this almost seems like a lifetime ago, but you’ll remember early on in the Panthers and Hurricanes Eastern Conference Final Series. In game 2, each team had a goal disallowed because of offside challenges. I was amazed to see that happen and and I think I sent you a text and it immediately occurred to me. I’m not sure those linesmen are going to be working past this round.
Josh: No, it’s it’s unfortunate when you see a call get overturned and those were close plays, but ones that I think the NHL is looking for these guys to get right. I mean, we are moving on to the Stanley Cup Final. You want the best of the best out there and – no offense to the guys working – but certainly this is what the Coach’s Challenge is there for, to catch those kinds of mistakes. We we had some situations here where, depending on how the play unfolded or where the linesman was positioned, both of these had the lines been outside the zone. One case he was jumping on the bench to avoid the play, so his angle was less than ideal, but that’s why we have Coach’s Challenge, right? It’s it’s to get them all right. And they got them right and no harm, no foul. Both teams taking away an opposing goal.
Todd: Worked out perfectly, just as it’s supposed to. Okay, two non goals and in the rare instance that it happens, we like to highlight it, two penalties called in one sequence. It was in game two of the Dallas Stars and the Golden Knights midway through the first period. Delayed penalty call on Joel Hanley for interference on Ivan Barbashev. The play continues, of course, because it’s a delayed penalty. Then Thomas Harley got the stick between the legs of Jack Eichel for the successful takedown. That’s two points, I believe, in wrestling, but it gets you 2 minutes in the box and both penalties were called. I did not see the official skating around with both arms up in the air, which I was really hoping for.
Josh: That’s what it’s got to be, you know. One for each penalty that we’ve got called here that would be brilliant to see, and then you’d you’d know exactly where you stand that there’s two delayed penalties, but no, that’s just one arm up. Curiously, the the same referee appeared to have both of them based on the signal on the ice. But I was happy to see this, Todd. I mean, they were both clear infractions and that’s something that we don’t always see. Sometimes it feels like the penalized team gets a free pass on that delayed penalty; that they’re not going to call a second penalty, that they wouldn’t dare put a team down five on three at the same instant or at the same stoppage of play, but it’s the right call. It’s the right way to officiate. You want that standard to be there regardless of whether you’re short handed or on a delayed call. Right call by the officials. Nice to see it happen, though it feels like it doesn’t happen as much as possibly it should.
Todd: Fair enough, but I think we should also use this situation to remind people that Oh , they don’t call penalties in the playoffs. Well, here they did. In fact, they called 2 on one play.
Josh: We’ve seen a lot of penalty calls and I think things tighten up. But you want to see that same standard across all the games you want to see it as things progress, and we do see penalties. Feel like they tighten up as we get into the conference finals and we get into the Stanley Cup Finals. You don’t have as many of those blowout games, typically. That all the penalty minutes pile. So I would expect from here on out things will be pretty tight when it comes to penalties, especially power play advantages. You wanna take two guys, one from each team, send them both off. That might be a little bit more common, but I think we will start to see as we move into the Stanley Cup Final, a tightening up of the penalty calls from here on out.
Todd: One penalty that was not called was a missed high stick late in the Panthers Hurricanes game number 3. Got lots of attention. Canes are down a goal late in the game, and it’s Shane Gostisbehere carrying the puck out of his zone. Sam Reinhart clips him with the high stick. There was no call on the play. Gostisbehere went down, sort of slid along the ice and the play was blown dead for an injured player. On top of this, it’s so loud in there that when the Panthers grab the puck and fire it into the empty Carolina net, nobody hears the whistle, the Florida fans think that there’s a goal scored and it seals the victory. However, that was not the case and it all gets walked back. Kind of walk through this one on how the rules work, Josh.
Josh: Yeah, it was an interesting play here and I know fans were frustrated, but you have to look at what’s available to the officials. So we had a couple different things on this play. First is that we had the whistle for the stoppage due to injury, so it did appear that one of the linesmen caught, the injured player on the ice. Referee Trevor Hanson’s right in front of the play, but he’s looking up ice because that’s where the play is headed. He’s anticipating where it’s going to go. He’s already looking up ice.
The trailing linesman sees Gostisbehere go down, blows the whistle for an injured player, so we’re okay there on the stoppage. Problem is, the linesman saw Gostisbehere go down, but he didn’t necessarily see what caused it. Hanson obviously missed what caused it because everyone’s looking up ice where the play is shifting. And we can’t review it because there’s no injury on the play; had the linesman seen that stick contact and we had an injury, then the linesman’s reporting the double minor or more for an injured player. So without that, we have a guy down on the ice.
We don’t have a clear injury and if the linesman didn’t see it, there’s nothing to call and because there’s nothing to call, there’s nothing to review. They can’t just initiate a review because the player was injured. So there’s really no option here but to play on and and that’s what we did. Now the whistle stopped play. So the goal gets wiped off, but that’s all we had. Basically was a whistle for what appeared to be an injured player, who, by the way, stayed on the ice for the next shift.
Todd: Definitely not that injured if you’re staying on the ice. We see that occasionally. Okay, couple of things I want to mention from the World Championships and I’m wondering if it’s getting a little nasty at the at the World Championships. We’ve seen some really serious plays.
There was a strange offside situation though, in a game with Czechia and Canada, who were who were down 2-1 to the Canadians, less than a minute remaining. Czechia player Dominik Kubalik goes into the Team Canada zone ahead of a long pass. The Canadian players kind of hesitated to make a play on the puck, maybe trying to bleed the clock a little bit. Kubalik touches it, looking for the whistle, but then there is no whistle, and Team Canada grabs the puck and scores on the empty Czechia net. Again, this is a weird confluence of circumstances. Can you help us In the understanding of it, Josh?
Josh: Boy, Todd, we dove into the IIHF rule book and said is there something that we missed here? Is there some rule that we’re not aware of? Because we we did have a couple things here. Where, like you mentioned, Team Canada hesitated on playing the puck and there’s a rule around refusal to play the puck, which is certainly taken into consideration. That would have resulted in a whistle on a face off. There’s also the touch on the delayed off side, which would have resulted in a whistle in a face off. And if the officials deemed it an intentional offside, it would just pull the face off back to the defensive end.
The only thing we could come up with was that the linesman missed that the attacking player actually touched the puck. That’s the only reason he would have not blown the whistle is that he didn’t see the touch and there were a lot of players skating, but the linesman was moving into the zone, looked like he had a pretty clear angle on the puck. I would have expected him to see the Czechia player touch the puck, but he just gestured to him to get out of the zone and Team Canada took possession and played on so. I guess the takeaway here is always play to the whistle.
Todd: Yes, that’s been known to burn players in the past, hasn’t it? Another curious one? Well, maybe not so much curious as an illustration of the difference in the rules between NHL and international rules, Team Canada’s Adam Fantilli gets tossed from a game versus Norway because of a high hit to the head. I watched it a few times. There were limited angles that I could find. The officials did look at the video and decided that the call was warranted and the rules are different in the World Championships. Any contact to the head means an ejection from the game. We can discuss whether NHL rule should be the same or not, but this is what happens. Any high contact and the player is tossed.
Josh: That’s right, and that’s where the rule’s different. Now the IIHF did some restructuring of their rulebook to align the numbers – the numbering and organizational structure that the NHL uses, so it makes it a lot easier to compare when you go line by line for the various rules. Both of them handle head contact in Rule 48, but it starts up front with the IIHF rule: “There is no clean check to the head or the neck. The player delivering the hit must avoid hitting the opponent’s head or neck.”
It’s in there internationally, it’s not in the NHL rulebook, which an illegal check to the head implies that there could be a legal check to that or legal head contact, and that’s the biggest difference so if we’re going by the rule book, this is at best a minor penalty in the NHL. Possibly no penalty in the NHL. You know, but we’re not playing in the NHL. We have to go by the IIHF standards and that is pretty strict when it comes to head contact. So it was the right call.
I mean I think for for fans of North American hockey, they’re used to the way the game is called here it, it seems a little over the top, but this is absolutely in line with what we expect internationally. So just a change in the game and it’s it’s for that player safety piece and, like you said, Todd, maybe the rule needs to be changed. Maybe it’s something the NHL can get a little more aggressive when it comes to safety around head hits. But as it stands right now, the NHL would have let this one slide where the IIHF says you’re gone for the game,
Todd: Also from the Worlds, Team USA’s Michael Eyssimont was penalized and tossed from the game and subsequently suspended for a game for kneeing Swedish defenseman Rasmus Sandin. This was pretty straightforward to me. There was knee on knee on the contact here.
Josh: I’m not sure that he meant to hit him the way he did. Looks like we had a combination here. He’s lining up for the hit. Sandin looks to – as he’s moving the puck – shift out of the way to potentially avoid contact, but there’s no arguing that it was knee on knee. Eyssimont didn’t pull up, he didn’t change his angle, so what you end up with is a dangerous knee on knee. And again, we’re gonna err on the side of safety when it comes to international hockey and it’s it’s the right call for him to get ejected from the game and suspended for one.
Todd: Okay, so now there’s one other situation I want to ask you about. From the World Championships Team Canada forward Joe Veleno battling in the scrum, stomped on the leg of Swiss captain Nino Niederreiter. I mean, he stomped him. He was tossed and has received a five game suspension. There were written statements issued by Veleno and the Team Canada general manager afterwards, so it’s basically said we accept the ruling. I didn’t see a lot of contrition in those statements, but regardless, I think Veleno should have been suspended for 500 games for that. It was awful.
Yeah, that was a pretty bad one, and one that is potentially really dangerous. You know, we’re we’re looking at hits and a it hit to the head, you know, was it hit a little high? Was this a dangerous play or was this a body check that went wrong and we had some knee knee contact there? We’re looking at things where guys are getting tossed out of games and suspended for that.
That there’s no arguing this one. There’s no arguing intent. There’s no hockey play here where anything was accidental, or it happened with the speed of the game. This was an intent to injure and an intent to seriously injure. You look back in the NHL with Chris Pronger getting eight games for stomping on an opponent. Chris Simon with 30 games and of course he had a pretty big rap sheet prior to that suspension. You look at what’s happened in the past, and I think this is one of those things where you’ve got such an intent to injure. Is five games really enough? I mean, I know it’s just a tournament and I know it would only apply to him internationally. It’s not like that five games will carry over to Veleno’s AHL or NHL career when he’s back in North America. But yeah, five seems a little light for something that could potentially sideline the opposing player for years.
Todd: Yeah, skate. Stomp. That’s never a good combination. Let’s go back to the National Hockey League, Dallas and the Golden Knights. Jamie Benn bowls over Mark Stone then decides to pound him into the ice with a cross check to the Vegas player’s neck. Got him a 5 minute major, got him a game misconduct, got him a hearing with the Department of Player Safety, then got him two more games suspended. I don’t know how you think of this as anything other than a a dumb play, a stupid play. There’s no real description. I thought he would only get one but he did get two games.
Josh : Yeah, I think it’s well deserved. I also thought we would be looking at a one game suspension. We’ve historically seen Player Safety value playoff games as a little bit more than a regular season games. So sometimes we see lower numbers, but I thought this was such a deliberate intent to injure type play that it deserved far more than this.
I mean, I’d call for five plus here just because it’s away from the play. There’s no hockey benefit. You’re looking at a guy who’s down on the ice who’s basically defenseless. He puts his hand up, and then Benn still drives down with the cross check.
This is one of those times when I would prefer that Player Safety actually came down a little bit harder because of the obvious intent to injure on this play. It’s it’s not something gone wrong. It’s like looking at the Veleno play: ‘What did you think was gonna happen? What was the outcome here?’ You’re cross checking a guy in the head in the neck. You’re causing an injury. So a bone head move by Benn I’m glad to see he at least two games for it which may end in the playoffs or may carry over to regular season opener.
Todd: Yeah, that’s very strange. Anyhow, we’ll see what happens with it. Two is better than one, but I agree with you it could have gone higher.
So later in this same game, Max Domi wanted to get in on the fun and games as well. So he and Nicolas Hague are chirping up and down the ice, and then Domi decides he’s going to cross check Hague into the boards twice for the even up and winds up getting 2 for cross checking, 2 for roughing and a 10 minute misconduct. Hague did end up getting an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty.
But when Domi actually made it back onto the ice in the final, I don’t know 2 minutes of the game or whatever, he puts a big slash on Mark Stone and winds up getting a $5000 fine from the Department of Player Safety. There was no penalty on the play, but he did get fined for that offense.
Josh: Yeah, it was funny because I saw that Domi was getting fined and I thought for sure it was from the earlier incident. I nearly missed this one. It didn’t seem like a noteworthy slash. There was a face off in the Stars end and coming off of it, Domi just gives a quick two handed slash to Stone. It looked like it was a stinger; I don’t think Stone was particularly hurt on the play, but no penalty as you mentioned, and it looks like one of those times when Player Safety just wants to step in and acknowledge that this is something that we want you guys to knock it off, keep it clean out there. You got away with it, but we’ll we’ll hit you with the fine. And it’s it’s funny because Domi’s out five grand. Benn doesn’t lose any money, he just gets to sit on the sidelines for two.
Todd: That’s right, because players don’t receive salary during the playoffs, do they?
Okay, so we also want to admonish the Dallas — well, I was going to say fans, but those in attendance that decided they didn’t like some of the calls that were being made and hurled beer cans on the ice at the end. That’s not cool and good for the officials making the right call to send the players to the dressing rooms. We’re going to end the period a few seconds early. We’ll just tack it on to the third period so that they could settle things down. That was the right thing to do.
Josh: Yeah, I saw some fans confused about what exactly happened on the play that you can end the period early and tack it on to the beginning of the third period. So when they came back out, they played that remaining 21 seconds sounded the horn and then switched sides and go on with the third period. And that’s specifically what that rule is for, to kind of diffuse things to calm it down and to to give everybody a chance to settle in and take a good 15-18 minute break before we come back to the actual hockey action.
Todd: We do have one finalist determined for the Stanley Cup. The Florida Panthers will represent the Eastern Conference in the Stanley Cup Final. I want to get into a couple of things from the deciding game on this one in particular right at the end of the first period, Matthew Tkachuk and Brent Burns. They’re kind of having words. They’re up against the boards and they’re having a chat, you know, saying hi, how are you? Maybe setting up a teetime and the like, Brett Burns leans over to retrieve his stick, which is laying on the ice and if you were watching it on TV, you saw that Burns sort of picks the stick up in – shall we say – an aggressive manner and made contact with Tkachuk. This is sometimes referred to as a cup check. I’m just thinking that I really hope that Matthew Tkachuk doesn’t wear his cup like he wears his mouth guard.
Josh: [Laughs] Chomping on it on the outside?.
Todd: Well, just, you know, dangling and you know, stuff hanging out and it would be bad.
Josh: Yeah, for sure. It is a scary moment there because you don’t want to injure somebody — well, maybe, I guess you do — don’t want a guy to get injured on a play like that. Not quite enough for spearing, you know, we didn’t see the stabbing motion, but definitely enough for a minor penalty. And again, it’s the nonsense away from the puck, away from the play that I wouldn’t object to Player Safety coming down, even a low dollar fine. Even if they just want to tack on the the minimum and I don’t know what the league minimum fine could potentially be, but even if it’s just a few dollars to say, knock it off.
Todd: But what are you going to fine him for? What are what are you going to call that? I want to see the guy who writes that statement.
Josh: We’ll just, we’ll go with the slash. I think we can go with slash or maybe unsportsmanlike. It was undoubtedly unsportsmanlike for sure.
Todd: OK, I’ll give you that. Okay. On the deciding goal, late in the third period, there’s less than five seconds remaining. I think this is worthy of a bit of discussion on goaltender interference. Again, Matthew Tkachuk scoops up the puck, throws it in the net with a couple of seconds remaining, gives the Cats the lead, but hold the phone because the Situation Room is on line one and we’re going to have a review because Sam Bennett’s stick is between the legs of goaltender Frederick Anderson. It was a quick review, but it was determined that apparently there was no interference, so hit the goal horn again and celebrate a second time.
I don’t know. It looked like goaltender interference to me because the stick was between the legs of the Carolina goaltender.
Josh: Yeah, that’s what we came down on. You know, initially reviewing it is his stick’s there. Now he has a right to play a loose puck or rebound that’s in the crease, there wasn’t one at that time, but as an attacking player, you certainly have the right to the ground you’re on. But he’s got to stick in the goal crease and we’re looking at that potentially impairing the goaltender’s ability to do his job or to play his position there. The stick ends up under the pad and it potentially impacts Anderson’s ability to move across the crease, which is exactly what he needs to do when Tkachuk fires in the game-winning goal.
So it’s a tough one because you don’t have body contact. It’s just his stick. He doesn’t necessarily push the goaltender. So a lot of the stick contact we’ve seen has involved pushing the leg pad over the line and and, you know, did he push the puck? Did he push the goalie? There’s no push here, but he is putting his stick under the goaltender’s pad and you know we’ve been working the phones, Todd. Talked to some current and former NHL goalies getting some feedback and opinions on it, and I’ll tell you folks are split on whether or not this should have been goaltender interference.
There’s definitely an impact to a goaltender and speaking as a former goaltender, I’ll agree when the stick’s under your leg pad, it’s affecting your ability to move laterally across the goal crease, so there’s no question. The concern comes up on how much impact was there. Did it prevent him from moving across? Was it significant enough? Obviously not significant enough for a penalty, so we’re looking at incidental contact in the goal crease. But is that stick even enough to negate the goal there and and was he intentionally putting it there or was this just part of the play?
It’s a really tough call. I can say that folks are pretty much divided on it and even considering the fact of would Anderson have been able to make the save even if he hadn’t been [intefered with], you know, was this enough to impact the game and that’s why this is such a hard one and you know, we look at goaltender interference and everybody complaints about the situation room. I can tell you informally, even the folks I’ve talked to and then we’ve got officials, goaltenders, all kinds of folks in there, they’re even divided on whether or not this one should count. I mean, the consensus was it looks like it’s enough for it to count, but was it really, because we’ve seen contact in the crease? We’ve seen goals disallowed on… not dissimilar plays, and this is where you get into that gray area of how much is too much contact?
Todd: It’s always a judgment call with goalie interference, and that’s the tricky part, isn’t it?
Josh: It it is and and you think of all the things that folks are are lining up there. You know when you’ve got the officials on the ice making their call and think of the fact that for years, for decades it was entirely up to that on ice official to use their judgment in real time, not get a second look at it or anything and either wave off the goal or allow the goal and and we’d move on, we’d have to live with it. Now we’ve got the Situation Room doing their best and. Are we happy? I don’t know.
Todd: Are we moving on? I’m not sure. Okay, one more that I want to move to before we wrap up this edition, and this is perhaps the strangest set of circumstances that I can recall, certainly in recent times.
In the OHL Championship series between the Peterborough Petes and the London Knights, Owen Beck of the Petes was given a two game suspension for a slew foot. Beck missed game six, the Peterborough Petes clinched in game six, which makes, of course, Game 7 unnecessary, and that means there is still one more game left on his suspension. But wait — as the Petes now move on to the Memorial Cup, they are set to face Seattle in the first game of the Memorial Cup.
There is a weird set of circumstances – it’s outlined a bit on tsn.ca and I know Josh will have more on this on scoutingtherefs.com – but the NHL Department of Player Safety is in charge of discipline for the Memorial Cup and they reviewed the incident and decided that Beck will not have to serve the second game of his suspension during the Memorial Cup. He was drafted by Montreal and if he goes to the NHL, that’s fine next year, but if he returns to the OHL next season, he will have to serve the second game of his suspension. This is the weirdest set of circumstances I’ve I’ve stumbled across in a long time.
Josh : I’m absolutely baffled by this and I guess I get it in theory, but the Memorial Cup is not that far removed from the Ontario Hockey League. These are aligned organizations, so we’ve seen other situations where a player gets suspended in the ECHL, gets called up to play in the AHL and he will be allowed to play. Or he gets suspended internationally like Veleno did for five games and once the tournament ends, if he hasn’t completed it, that doesn’t matter when he comes back to North America, they’re not enforcing that. But these are aligned organizations so that that two games stays for the OHL, but doesn’t carry over to the Memorial Cup, for which the OHL, WHL, QMJHL are all part of that.
I was surprised to see that A) that was even an option that they could do that, B) that the NHL’s Department of Player Safety is overseeing Memorial Cup discipline and the officials, which is a little interesting in its own. I mean great to call in the big guns for that one, but then they overruled the OHL’s disciplinary committee. I shouldn’t say ‘overruled’ because the suspension still exists at the OHL level, but they didn’t honor it when it came to the Memorial Cup.
It was an interesting change. I guess that means that it wasn’t severe enough for them to do it and they thought that they wanted to keep that the OHL level. Or is this setting precedent going forward that if we see things happen in those qualifying events and championships, that doesn’t necessarily mean it will carry over to the Memorial Cup itself?
Todd: So it has the same clarity as many of the judgments and decisions of the Department of Player Safety that we’ve come to know and love over our years is that.
Josh: Correct along with goaltender interference.
Todd: Right, there you go.