Ref Roundup: Broken Sticks, Russian Bribes, Dollars for Diving

Before rounding up the latest in ref-related news, there’s one particular goal that needs a second look:

Justin Abdelkader’s game-winning overtime goal was illegal.

Players are not allowed to play with broken sticks, according to Rule 10.3, which states, “A player without a stick may participate in the game. A player whose stick is broken may participate in the game provided he drops the broken stick. A minor penalty shall be imposed for an infraction of this rule.” The rulebook, though, doesn’t say anything about disallowing goals scored with broken sticks.

“Now, common sense suggests that if playing with a broken stick is illegal,” said former NHL referee Paul Stewart, “a goal scored with said illegal stick should also be deemed illegal and waved off as play would be dead with the puck crossing the goal line and the penalty imposed. However, common sense and the NHL Rulebook have a distant relationship with one another.”

“The only way that this goal would be deemed legal,” offered former NHL referee Kerry Fraser, “is if Abdelkader’s stick broke in the act of shooting and the puck then entered the net.

There was no whistle, no stoppage, and no penalty handed out by referee Eric Furlatt, who was well-positioned to see the entire play.

Unfortunately for the Blues, a broken stick is not one of the things that the NHL’s Situation Room can weigh in on. Their review would have only been able to confirm that the puck entered the net and that it was not kicked in, batted in, nor played with a stick above the crossbar. Much like goaltender interference, playing with a broken stick is not reviewable and must be left to the on-ice officials to call.

This is a great example of why goal reviews need to be inclusive of all possible reasons. With the benefit of replay, we can clearly determine when Abdelkader’s stick was broken. In that moment and from the referee’s point of view, perhaps it wasn’t as clear.While we don’t want the game to be bogged down unnecessarily, isn’t it always about getting the call right? Clearly, the Situation Room could have helped that happen in this case.

Ref Roundup:

  • Referee Eric Furlatt foils a Morgan Rielly breakaway. (No word on whether the game’s other referee sent Furlatt to the box for interference.) [CBS Sports/Eye on Hockey]
  • Referees Kelly Sutherland and Francis Charron were both hurt in the same game last week. What happens if both referees are injured? [Scouting the Refs]
  • Down goes Subban! Habs’ blueliner becomes the first to be fined twice for diving [The Hockey News]
  • KHL coach Raimo Summanen of Avangard Omsk mocks referee by pulling out his wallet and offering a bribe. [Yahoo Puck Daddy]
  • Referee Tim Peel reaches the 1,000-game milestone [Scouting the Refs]
  • Kings’ Tyler Toffoli deserved suspension for his hit on Burrows, says Kerry Fraser [TSN]
  • Penguins need to clean up their act with the officials before the playoffs [Post-Gazette]
  • LNAH referee Jim Chandik taken out from behind [Next Impulse Sports]
  • If the NHL implements a coach’s challenge, we won’t see bench bosses tossing flags on the ice. Too bad. [Sportsnet]
  • A Michigan bill looks to increase punishments for assaulting sports officials. [State News]

For more on referees & linesmen, visit Scouting The Refs