Photo: Geoff Burke
The NHL has a conundrum on their hands. This season, NHL coaches were given the right to challenge a referee’s call on the ice to try and eliminate controversial goals. The intent was to fortify the integrity of the game. Instead the opposite is happening.
Take a look. With 2:39 left in the third period, Alex Ovechkin scored what looked to be the game-tying tally. But check out Justin Williams right before it.
Williams tries to deflect a shot past James Reimer while outside of the crease. He gently bumps the Leafs goaltender. Then center Byron Froese shoves him further into Reimer’s work space.
Leafs Coach Mike Babcock immediately challenged the goal. The question, as Caps’ play-by-play man Joe Beninati succinctly put it on air, was “did Williams prevent James Reimer from doing his job.”
You tell me.
Referee Brad Meier ruled yes.
“In the video review, there was contact with the goaltender in the blue paint,” Meier said after looking at the play on a small tablet. “The goal on the ice is reversed. There’s no goal on the play.”
An exasperated Williams did not understand what he did wrong.
Neither did angry Caps fans.
“Obviously, it sucks,” Alex Ovechkin said of the play.
Williams, the 15-year veteran, did not like it either.
“I knew instantly when I got back to the bench they were gonna challenge it,” Williams said, according to RMNB’s Chris Gordon. “Instantly, I knew that. It’s what we’ve seen. Anything close they’re gonna challenge. I thought I went to the net, did everything I could to not touch the goalie, and I don’t think I was interfering with him when the shot was taken — but it was disallowed!”
Justin Williams on Alex Ovechkin's overturned goal: 'I don’t care. I’ll say it. I don’t like it. I don’t like it at all.' #CapitalsTalk
— Chuck Gormley (@CharlesAGormley) November 8, 2015
Caps Coach Barry Trotz thought it was a good goal.
“It’s a work in progress,” he said. “It’s sort of like baseball. An umpire has different strike zone. I don’t have to agree with the goals or what they saw. I don’t have an opinion on whether it was gonna be goal or not. The way I look at it is, we put the puck to the net, Williams was there and in my opinion, and it doesn’t matter my opinion, is Reimer gets outside the crease into Williams.”
“I don’t know if Reimer would have been any position to save it if that didn’t happen,” he continued. “It’s a work in progress for the league, us coaches, and the referees. Whatever they call, they call it and we’ve just got to deal with it.”
Does Trotz know what goalie interference is?
“No, it’s a little bit gray right now. Very gray,” he said.
I think CSN Washington’s Alan May sums up everybody’s feelings about the ruling on Twitter. The NHL should be “absolutely embarrassed.”
NHL should be absolutely embarrassed with implementation of new goaltender interference rule, it's become pure embellishment
— Alan May (@MayHockeyNBCS) November 8, 2015
Additional reporting by Chris Gordon.
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