The NHL Failed the Blue Jackets

Mistakes happen. They happen to all of us. But what happened Sunday afternoon in Columbus was completely unacceptable.

The Carolina Hurricanes won a crazy game 6-5 over the Columbus Blue Jackets. Many things happened in this game. But they all pale in comparison to what played out at the end of the second period.

Setting the Scene

Blue Jackets’ captain Nick Foligno scored his 200th NHL goal on the team’s first shot of the second period. That came at 14:24 of the period. The goal gave the Blue Jackets a 3-2 lead.

Then Brett Pesce came back and tied the game at three just over two minutes later. This was turning into a fun, back-and-forth game. The Hurricanes carried that momentum and converted it into a lead thanks to Vincent Trocheck. His goal at 18:45 made it 4-3.

This is where things got real crazy, real fast.

On replay, it appeared that Trocheck was offside. The Blue Jackets elected to challenge the play. It seemed like the right call.

However, to the surprise of many, the goal was allowed to stand. Ok. Maybe there wasn’t a clear camera angle of where Trocheck’s feet were. If it’s not clear and concise, you can’t overturn the call. The Blue Jackets received a minor penalty for delay of game.

The last 1:15 of the period expired with no further damage done. The score was 4-3 after two periods.

Then the real crazy stuff started to happen.

It Was Offside, Really

After the review was allowed to stand, after the last 1:15 of the second period expired, it was determined that the play was in fact offside. The officials went as far as going down the tunnel to advise the Blue Jackets of the situation.

As the third period began, the Blue Jackets had five players on the ice and their goalie Joonas Korpisalo. That’s what caught the attention of many who were following the game. There was :45 of penalty time left. It got wiped off the board. Yet the score was still 4-3.

What was going on here?

Finally, the NHL released the following statement in regards to the play in question.

You’d think that would clear the whole situation up. Yeah, think again.

This statement gives us even more questions to consider. First, what exactly was the miscommunication that happened? That’s a pretty generic statement. Was the wrong replay shown on video? That’s certainly possible especially if you watched the TV feeds.

During the review, the Hurricanes TV feed showed a replay of a different zone entry. Color commentator Tripp Tracy even commented that there wasn’t anything on video. It was the wrong play. Whether that is part of this issue is not known. But it is a question. Regardless, we do not have detail of what the exact miscommunication was.

The key though is in the statement. It says “before all replays could be reviewed to confirm the off-side.” Whatever was reviewed seemed to indicate no offside. It was later shown that an alternate angle clearly showed Trocheck with both skates in the offensive zone prior to the puck completely crossing the line. It’s clear the officials did not see this clip.

So now we know the play was offside and the goal should have been disallowed. Then an even more baffling thing happens. The goal was allowed to stand. But then the last 45 seconds of the penalty was rescinded.

The goal being allowed to stand is understandable. Once a play resumes, regardless of the situation, you can’t take a goal off the board. Rule 37.2 in the NHL rulebook is clear about this.

But here is the question. How was the last 45 seconds of the penalty allowed to be taken off? That is not addressed anywhere in the rulebook.

This situation was completely butchered by the NHL. Needless to say the Blue Jackets were not happy with how this played out.

“It’s a bad look for the NHL not to get it right,” Foligno said postgame. “It’s just frustrating, but you got to move past it too. It’s not why we lost the game, maybe you could say it is because we lost by a goal but it was a weird game tonight.”

Nick Foligno Columbus Blue Jackets
Nick Foligno said it was a bad look for the NHL. (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Patrik Laine had a more direct approach to the situation.

“That’s the biggest joke I’ve ever seen,” Laine said. He also went on to say that it was “so generous to take 40 seconds off the clock.”

Tortorella, given his past history with comments about officiating, decided to not say anything, except to allow the league to explain what happened. “I’m out,” he said.

My Thoughts

It’s simple. This cannot happen to any team under any circumstance. Plays like this were the reason why replay was implemented. It’s understandable to not catch the offside in real time given the speed of the game. But replay is supposed to be the safeguard for teams.

It failed the Blue Jackets on Sunday.

The league is to blame for this. There are multiple layers in place for a reason. That it was able to play out like this is embarrassing. It gave the Hurricanes a go-ahead goal and a power play. Let’s not even get into if the Hurricanes score a goal in that final 1:15 of the second period. It’d be an even bigger mess. That goal likely stands too.

Transparency is needed. What happened between the linesmen, the booth in Columbus and the situation room that allowed not all replays to be reviewed prior to the restart of play? Someone dropped the ball here. They need to be held accountable. We’ll likely never know what all transpired. That is a major problem. Everyone else is held accountable. The league should be held to that same standard.

Hopefully it is a lesson learned by everyone involved. Hopefully something like this doesn’t happen in a bigger game later in the season or in the playoffs. If anything, this play should be a wake-up call for the league. We’ll see if it is in time.

On Sunday, the NHL failed the Columbus Blue Jackets. There’s no dancing around that one.


On Monday morning, Aaron Portzline of the Athletic released an article with an explanation of the miscommunication. If you subscribe, you can read the article below.

It doesn’t change the above premise. At least we know what happened. But that can’t happen under any circumstance.