Thoughts on the Non-Goal

Running on about four hours of sleep, we’ll see how today goes. In the meantime, here’s another thought about the non-goal at the end of last night’s game.

I have no problem with the “play is dead when the ref decides it is, not when he actually blows the whistle” rule. There is a human action required to blow play dead and that action takes a second. It feels like there should be a better way but right now there isn’t so for the most part this rule works.

My issue is with when referee Brad Watson decided to blow play dead.

While the letter of the law is that the ref has to blow play dead when he loses sight of the puck, that’s not what actually happens. There are hundreds of times throughout the game where a ref loses sight of the puck. He gets spun around trying to get out of the way of the play, a player steps in front of him, or something as simple as blinking. When that happens, the ref can reasonably assume the puck is still playable and that he’ll quickly regain sight of it.

My problem with the non-goal is that the same reasonable assumption should have applied to it. Watson was out of position because the play happened fast. Not faulting him there. He knew he was out of position, as seen by how he raced to get back to his spot behind the net. Before he got there, while Jonas Hiller‘s body was blocking his view of the puck, Watson decided that he could no longer reasonably assume the puck was playable.

He gave Hiller the benefit of the doubt and a quick whistle. He consciously decided that it was unreasonable to assume that the puck was free. He guessed that Hiller had it covered.

Watson guessed wrong and it cost the Wings the tying goal. That’s my issue with what happened.

Author: Clark Rasmussen

Clark founded the site that would become DetroitHockey.Net in September of 1996 with no idea what it would lead to. He continues to write for the site and executes the site's design and development.

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