Columbus Blue Jackets head coach John Tortorella has fallen out with the NHL again. His expletive filled tirade after the Jackets’ shoot-out loss to Chicago has already hit headlines. If you’re not familiar with the reason for this, it’s because Columbus’ game winning goal was ruled no good as the buzzer had already sounded to end overtime. However there was an infraction prior to this and Tortorella argues that not enough time was added back in. Had that extra second been added then the goal would have stood. Instead the game went to a shoot out and Jackets goalie Joonas Korpisalo was hurt while blocking a shot. He’s expected to be out for a few weeks.
Korpisalo’s injury has left Columbus relying on the inexperienced Elvis Merzlikens as the season reaches a crunch period for a team already struggling to meet the expectations set by last season’s performance.
Torts has lambasted the refs and NHL, the NHL has defended its officials and that it is dealing with the situation. Torts has since said that he regrets the way he handled the situation.
So who’s right and who’s wrong? Is it as clear cut as Torts makes out? Let’s take a look at what happened, and whether or not the NHL is in the wrong here:
The Referee’s Decision Cost Columbus The Win
This isn’t as clear cut as Tortorella makes out. Sure the decision about the game clock cost the Blue Jackets the win in overtime, but that just extended the game. Columbus still had opportunity to take the two points by winning the shootout. Given that the Blue Jackets were 0/1 in shoot outs for the season, the chances weren’t great that they would topple Chicago. But there was a chance.
Columbus Lost Korpisalo Because Of The Ref’s Decision
Mmm… again not really. Korpisalo wouldn’t have been on the ice if the Jackets’ OT goal stood, there’s no argument about that, but the block and the injury? That’s bad luck. There’s no blame, and I wish for a speedy recovery but goalies train for shootouts and while this is a crappy situation, it’s something that happens. Plenty of shootouts happen and players don’t get hurt.
So It’s Just One Of Those Things?
Nope. Between them, the referee and the timekeeper made a mistake somewhere, and while this isn’t necessarily the fault of the officiating team in the rink, it does indicate that some part of the process is broken. Torts is already the angriest man in hockey, so there’s no way he should have gone into a press conference with his temper already at boiling point. But his points were valid. The NHL operates a timekeeping system where the clock stops when the whistle blows, and it’s important to be consistent with the approach. If the clock stopped over a second after the whistle blew then that time should be given back, and the league should look into this situation based not on Torts’ explicit reactions, but on the basis of his argument.
Well Who’s Right?
Some fault does lay with Tortorella in the way he handled the situation. He’s a passionate guy who cares about his people and the sport, but rather than address his concern in the proper manner, he’s got the NHL’s backs up.
Nobody came out of this smelling of roses, a highly unlikely situation occurred that’s probably never been thought twice about, nobody can predict everything everywhere all the time, that’s why rules are revised or amended. The NHL shouldn’t be jumping to defend its people, rather it should be saying ‘hey, let’s make sure this doesn’t happen again’.