Monday, February 6, 2012

Nitpicking a Nitpicker.

HOLD ON, guys. I have breaking news: Sam Gagner recorded 4 goals and 4 assists against the Blackhawks on Thursday. Gagner's eight points bring him into a tie with Brett Gretzky and Starbucks Coffey for the franchise record for points in a single game. Isn't that impressive? Isn't it more impressive that I'm the first internet writer to report this awesome offensive performance? Fuck, man, I rule.

Okay, never mind, I far from rule. Sam has suddenly become the talk of the hockey world after this performance, though. Can he put together career season after putting up 11 points in his last two games? With his heightened trade value, should Edmonton consider shipping him for who would immediately become their best defenseman? Does Dave still enforce a curfew upon him?

But, again, HOLD ON, guys. I'm not sure how this happened, but the doorman accidentally allowed Buzz Killington into the party.

It was one for the ages to be sure. Too bad it should never have happened.

Is this because Reptar on Ice was originally scheduled for that evening? That would have been a show for the (early 20-somethings) ages, too.

That’s because even though Gagner was credited with eight points in the game, he should have only earned seven. Don’t believe me? Watch the replay of the Oilers third goal of the game, the one scored by defenseman Ryan Whitney.

Don't believe you? It's not so much about believing you, but whether I actually give a shit. You post this article four days after the game, way beyond the allowed time for the league to make any official scoring changes. At this point, why even write about it? Oh well. Keep trying to convince me, Kenny.

Gagner gains the Chicago Blackhawks zone with speed and cuts to the middle of the slot. That’s when Blackhawks defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson knocks the puck off his stick. Then David Bolland of the Blackhawks pounces on the loose puck and tries to clear the zone. But he fails to do so and the puck ends up on Whitney’s stick before the Oilers defenseman blasts it from the blueline past Chicago goalie Corey Crawford.

Dave Bolland, jungle panther, attempts to pounce upon the puck, only to get distracted by a laser pointer being shined upon Ryan Jones' back. You call it pouncing, which could indicate possession (perhaps some playful biting and scratching, as well) but I see a desperate attempt to clear the puck, which I've never considered to be possession.

Any way you look at it, there’s no way Gagner deserves an assist on that goal. Two Blackhawks touched the puck between Gagner and Whitney, with Bolland clearly having the puck on his stick before committing the giveaway. That goes against rule 33.2 which governs goals and assists, which says: “An assist is awarded to the player or players (maximum two) who touches the puck prior to the goal scorer, provided no defender plays or possesses the puck in between.” (Italics mine.)

This is where it gets a little tricky, and I can (faintly) understand why Campbell feels this way. From what I've learned and always known through watching hockey, playing the puck and possessing the puck are the same damn thing. To commit either actions would mean said player must have full control over the puck. If Bolland were able to cradle the puck and stick-handle, that would be possession. If Hjalmarsson controlled the puck, rather than getting a piece of it on his one-handed stick-check, that would be playing the puck. Since Bolland was able to get two hands on his stick and attempt to dump the puck, Campbell assumes that Chicago controlled the play. It's close, but Bolland didn't establish control on that play. Sven, Dacque, Marbles; would anyone care to attempt to validate my claim? I need at least eight people to agree with me, although Campbell would probably mistake Dacque to be a Sedin, which would mean that he isn't human, but a hockey robot incapable of forming opinions. Then I'd only have seven people agreeing with me, which isn't special at all.

Despite that, Gagner was awarded an assist on the ice by the referee, but that’s not where the mistake was made. Every goal scored in the NHL is reviewed by the official scorer, who would have had plenty of opportunity to watch the replay before coming up with the official scoring play. How anyone could see a goal under those circumstances and still award an assist to Gagner is beyond comprehension. In fact, it’s right in the same rule that the official scorer’s duties and responsibilities are spelled out. The rule also reads: “The official scorer shall award the points for the goals and assists and his decision shall be final. The official scorer shall use the video goal judge system to verify the proper awarding of goals and assists.”

If the official scorer awarded Gagner with an assist on that play, then it's the right call. It was the same call on the ice, as well. Why does this matter so much to you, Ken? Do you truly care about the legitimacy of Gretzky and Coffey's shared record, or were you just trying to crank out another fresh article before lunchtime? So far, with two referees and an official scorer on my side, I'm up to three people who agree with me. Fuck yes!

Need more evidence? Actually it was provided in a game that was played that very same night. In the Dallas Stars 5-2 loss to the San Jose Sharks, Stars defenseman Trevor Daley makes a long pass to Steve Ott, which bounces off Sharks defenseman Dan Boyle before coming back to Ott, who shoots it in the net. Daley was not awarded an assist on that play.

This is where I'd like to thank Nicholas Monak for renewing his account this season. All I had to do was watch the replay for Ott's goal (so conveniently omitted from the highlight provided by Ken) to see that Dan Boyle shot this puck into his own net. Need more evidence?

(You are gazing into the pixels of proper criticism)

Commentary from that replay:

"(Ott)'s going to come up and he's going to beat Dan Boyle, and Dan Boyle shoots this puck into his own net."

While I couldn't find this spelled out for us in Rule 78 (Goals), I'm slightly certain that there are no assists awarded for own goals. Dan Boyle didn't even pass it to anyone first, that selfish fuck. Anyway, Daley didn't receive an assist and that was, again, the right call by the official scorer. Are we done yet, Mr. Campbell?

Go ahead, accuse us of being nitpickers and killjoys here, but this was a franchise record-tying event we’re talking about. Of course, the official scorer had no way of knowing things would turn out the way they did when the third goal was scored, but when you watch the replay there’s still no excuse for awarding Gagner an assist. (A long-time NHL observer came to precisely the same conclusion when he reviewed the goal, by the way.)

Oh yeah? Who was it? Nick Kypreos? PJ Stock? Bryan Berard? Yourself? I have no idea what you mean by "A long-time NHL observer". I've "observed" the NHL for almost twenty years, so perhaps I know a thing or three. Also, even if the official scorer had some way of knowing about the outcome of that game beforehand, it wouldn't have made a difference. I expect that he reviewed the play with proper understanding of rule 33.2, thus designating the correct award of an assist to Gagner.

Since the official scorer’s decision is final, there’s no way the assist can be taken away from Gagner, nor should it at this point. After all, players have scored at least eight points in a game 13 times previously in NHL history and there’s a chance they could have received phantom points as well. Wayne Gretzky scored eight points on two occasions in the 1983-84 season and the joke around the league then was that Gretzky received an assist for every goal scored in Alberta.

Yet, you still decided to write an article about it. If fans, official scorers, and "observers" were fine with occasional phantom points back then, it shouldn't be a catastrophe if one is awarded now. Regardless, there were no phantom points on that play. Sam Gagner earned eight points that evening. I'm happy for him, as you should be, too (and if not, then you just shouldn't care).

But had the points on that goal been properly awarded in the first place using video technology the league has embraced, there would be no reason to point it out because Gagner would have finished the evening with seven points.

Poor Trevor Daley.

1 comment:

  1. I think the real question is obvious: What's assistant Coach's opinion?