A Rogue Video Coordinator Went Full Leeroy Jenkins to Uphold a Goal That Shouldn't Have Counted in Sunday's CAR-CBJ Game
This story is going to get buried because the game happened on Super Bowl Sunday — and because it's a regular season hockey game between Carolina and Columbus — but reading what happened that led to this goal counting for the Hurricanes is one of the most insane stories I've ever heard involving replay in professional sports.
So after what clearly should have been a successful challenge for offsides by Columbus, the refs went to replay to see if Carolina's goal should have counted or not. But apparently, they were dealing with a video coordinator in Columbus who's still in training. So here's what they got:
The Athletic — The league, it turns out, never actually upheld the “good goal” ruling. They were still in the process of reviewing the play when the wrong information was passed along to NHL referee Ghislain Hebert, who then announced that the goal would stand, according to executive vice president and director of hockey operations, Colin Campbell.
How did the wrong information get passed along?
Nationwide Arena’s off-ice officials are in the process of training a video coordinator, a person charged with making sure NHL hockey-operations executives in Toronto can connect with NHL officials at ice level for just this kind of review, using both audio (headsets) and video (Apple iPads).
“The video technician is just supposed to coordinate this upstairs (at press level),” Campbell told The Athletic in a late-night interview. “They’re not supposed to get involved. They’re just supposed to set up things. We do the communicating with the (officials).
“We sent the first video (clip) for the linesmen to review — we’re looking at them, too, in Toronto — and we hear a voice on the line say, ‘He’s onside. That’s a good goal.’ He said it twice! The linesmen (Jonny Murray and Tyson Baker) heard that, took off the headsets and stepped away so they could make the call.”
Hebert made the announcement.
So a guy who isn't even technically an official was just on the headset giving his (incorrect) opinion, the refs heard it and went back out on the ice and announced it as if that's what had come from the NHL replay room in Toronto. But that's not even the best part. The NHL was then frantically trying to get the attention of the official in the penalty box to get the refs back off the ice before they resumed play, but they couldn't for a hilarious reason.
“We were trying to get the guys’ attention downstairs, to stop the linesmen before they could resume play,” Campbell said. “We were screaming into the headsets, ‘Get ’em back on there, get ’em back on!’ because (the off-ice official in the penalty box) usually just puts the headphones right back on his own head (after a linesman uses them).”
But under the NHL’s COVID protocols, the penalty-box official is charged with sterilizing the headsets before they can be worn by somebody else, and he began doing this immediately as the officials skated away to announce their ruling.
I can only imagine the people losing their damn minds in Toronto trying to avoid massive embarrassment for the entire League and the one guy who could fix it is just cleaning the headphones with a Wet Wipe. Amazing.
This is honestly one of the most insane sports stories I've ever read. If this happened in an NFL game, there would be riots in the streets. And to add insult to injury for Columbus, the refs wiped off the remaining 45 seconds of the Blue Jackets' penalty for the lost challenge during the second intermission, admitting the call was wrong, but said they couldn't take the goal off the board.
I've been on this train for a while in baseball, where seemingly more calls are still wrong after replay than corrected, but let's just get rid of the damn thing. The officials still don't get calls right, we apparently have video coordinators making decisions that are affecting the outcomes of games and it's just generally infuriating. I can live far more with an incorrect call made in the moment than one made after looking at it closely with clear evidence it's wrong.
Columbus went on to lose by one goal.