They may have picked up a point to remain first in the Pacific but Kings fans aren’t too happy with the end result. They wanted the win, felt they should have gotten the win and they can go back to one particular moment early in the game as a factor – something that the Kings are inexplicably used to.
Early in the first period of last night’s game, the Kings thought they opened the scoring as Justin Williams tipped in a Jack Johnson point shot. However, the goal was immediately waved off as Williams’ was thought to tip in the puck with a high stick. Okay, that’s fair. However, the disputed goal was under review after conferring with Toronto, the call stood as ‘no goal’.
I do understand that in order to reverse a decision on the ice, the referees need conclusive evidence to overturn the call. On the Kings’ broadcast, color analyst Jim Fox showed multiple replays of the goal. It wasn’t until the last replay he showed that you could clearly see Williams’ stick below the crossbar as it made contact with the puck. But even though Fox showed said replay late, there was no excuse for the people in Toronto to have not had that angle themselves. If they did, the decision should have easily been overturned. But like I said, there’s no excuse for them not to have that angle. It would probably take a few looks to confirm it but nonetheless, that was a goal.
What’s unfortunate is that Justin Williams, who rightfully thought it was a goal, admitted that it probably wouldn’t be overturned due to lack of conclusive evidence. Williams was right about the former but not about the latter. In the risk of sounding bias, there was enough evidence to show that Williams’ goal was legitimate.
If this was the first time something like this happened to the Los Angeles Kings, I’d let it slide. I certainly wouldn’t be happy but referees and replay officials alike are only human and they’re bound to make mistakes, even if it does cost a team a point or two. However, that’s not the case. Off the top of my head, I can think of two instances last season where the Kings got the short end of the stick on a couple of calls (and bad calls at that).
First, there was November 22 in Ottawa when Ryan Smyth tied the game with just seconds left in regulation – or so he thought. Like last night, the play was under review due to a high stick. Also like last night, the stick was below the crossbar. Alas, also like last night, the decision stood. There was no goal and the Senators won. It would have been one thing had they just called off the goal and that was that. However, the replay officials in Toronto must have been carefully reviewing the goal as the play was stopped for a good ten minutes before a decision (the wrong one) was made.
What took the cake, though, was on January 20 in Los Angeles against the Phoenix Coyotes. With the game scoreless in the second, the Coyotes took a point shot that Martin Hanzal tipped in for the goal. The goal was under review and, like Ottawa, took quite a long time to review. On the multiple replay angles, it didn’t show Hanzal’s stick at the crossbar level or just an inch above it. His stick was so far above the crossbar that no one even needed a replay to wave it off. Nonetheless, the officials in Toronto and the referees conferred and, for whatever reason, the goal stood. I’m sure I speak for most, if not all, Kings fans when I say that I was absolutely livid. There was absolutely no reason for that goal to stand, especially when everyone reviewing took their sweet-ass time reviewing it. What could they have possibly missed? I cannot fathom that for the life of me. This was more blatant that the Smyth goal in Ottawa or Williams’ goal last night but I’m not dismissing the latter two as those were as legitimate goals as Hanzal’s was illegitimate.
Following the game, which the Kings lost 2-0, GM Dean Lombardi publicly criticized Mike Murphy (Senior Vice-President of NHL’s Hockey Operations) for the allowing Hanzal’s goal to stand. Lombardi went on to say something of the effect that Murphy was upset that he didn’t get general manager’s job in Los Angeles, which obviously went to Lombardi instead. On the surface, one would think that an accusation like this is childish but how else can you explain such a shoddy decision to let a goal, which was evidently scored on a high stick, stand?
As a result of his criticism, Lombardi was fined and his complaint fell upon deaf ears. Clearly, no one wanted to admit that there was something wrong when the goal stood.
So, what is this? Upset fans call referees blind all the time but remember that they are officiating such a fast game and make enough initial mistakes due to the high tempo. Replay officials in Toronto on the other hand just sit there in their big office with multiple monitors so they can see a disputed call at every possible angle.
Is this a direct shot at the Los Angeles Kings? I don’t want to seem paranoid but maybe Lombardi was on to something when he called Murphy out. For someone who both played for and coached the Kings, Mike Murphy should be the last person to hold something against the Kings. He could be bitter about being fired from the club but considering that happened in 1988, it’s hard to believe that anyone would harbour hard feelings for 23 years.
There’s a lot to say but unfortunately, there just isn’t a lot that will change. I think every arena should have their own replay officials and that whoever’s working that night should not be allowed to have any personal stake in the game whatsoever. Of course, this is a lot easier said than done.
Until things change and they start getting treated fairly in these situations, the Los Angeles Kings should use any horrid calls and use it to their advantage. What’s done is done but they should push forward with proverbial chips on their shoulders and simply show the opposition that they may have gotten a lucky break but they won’t be so lucky next time. Again, though, easier said than done.
It’s a good thing that this type of thing doesn’t happen to the Kings very often, although it has happened more than anyone would have wanted it to. As far as I’m concerned, this is just like the east coast bias where neither the Kings as a whole or the individual players get the credit they deserve. Why not just use this to their advantage and show the entire league what they’ve been missing?
On the other hand, Mike Murphy and the people in Toronto should be downright embarrassed. If they’re blind, get laser eye surgery. If they’re bias, let go of any hard feelings. If they’re smart, they’d walk away because they’d be the first ones to admit what a terrible job they do and, furthermore, what a bad name they give the National Hockey League.