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This Is What Happens When Players Decide The Game

from Damien Cox of The Spin,

Bergeron's winning goal was initiated by a obvious hook by Jaromir Jagr (of all people) on Evgeni Malkin. Malkin is one of the great skill players in the sport, and Jagr was, and as Malkin headed up ice with the puck to lauch an attack on the Boston net Jagr used his stick to haul in the Russian and nearly lift him right off his feet.

It was the kind of play that was commonplace in the NHL about 20 years ago. So illegal, and so obvious. Heck, the way the game is supposed to be called now, Jagr should have been called just for putting his stick horizontally across Malkin's body.

But with Gary Bettman's administration having already embarrassed itself with the way in which the rules have been called both during the regular season and even moreso in these playoffs, both referees simply waved play on in the "let the players decide it" philosophy.

When will they understand that when they let the players decide it, usually the players will decide it by breaking the very rules the league is supposed to enforce? When will they understand that Malkin could only be stopped on that play by a blatantly illegal play, and that it's vital to the integrity of the sport to make that call?


Below, watch the goal again with HNIC's Jim Hughson providing play by play and Craig Simpson with the analytical work.  I have advanced the video to start with the reply of the Jagr/Malkin play

Filed in: NHL Teams, Boston Bruins, Pittsburgh Penguins, | KK Hockey | Permalink


Vladimir16's avatar

I always think back to the Dallas Stars Stanley Cup winning goal. Ya know, the one where Hull’s skate was in the crease. Ya know, the goal that shouldn’t have counted because they reviewed every single skate in the crease infraction and called off every single goal like that all year.
As long as the Garden Gnome is in charge it’ll be a joke of a league…. and sadly I will still watch. Makes me feel dirty, and not in a good way.

Posted by Vladimir16 from Grand River Valley on 06/06/13 at 11:53 AM ET


Hey Damien, why are you only complaining about the play that adversely affected th Pens?  There has been bullshit non-call after bullshit non-call throughout the ENTIRE playoffs, but this is the one that gets the media attention?

Posted by Garth on 06/06/13 at 01:03 PM ET

Paul's avatar

Kerry Fraser of TSN,

...the Referees have to make a call such as this at anytime throughout the game. When they do, they need to be supported by the entire hockey community. Let’s not ever hear again the old adage to, “let the players decide the outcome of the game.”


Posted by Paul from Motown Area on 06/06/13 at 01:21 PM ET


Not for nothing, but I thought that OT period was insanely exciting and fun to watch.  Hockey is at its best when the play extends for 2, 3 minutes straight at a time.  That’s when the rushes and chances happen, when guys get tired or the fourth in a series of on the fly line changes gets bungled and the defensive systems get stretched because forwards are pushing up ice.

Yes, the refs let a bunch of stuff go that gets called pretty often during the regular season or even during regulation of a playoff game.  Still, the hockey was outstanding to watch.

Posted by HockeyinHD on 06/06/13 at 01:33 PM ET

blammo's avatar

It’s a conundrum.

As a fairly impartial fan, I agree that game was hella fun to watch. At the same time, if it is your team that is on the wrong side of the NHLs many wrong/no-calls, it sucks!

I have come to accept that rules are completely random and arbitrary with this league, and once I dropped expectations of consistent reffing the games became a lot more enjoyable to watch.

The NHL is sick. There is no doubt about that. But the game itself is so amazing, it rises above the NHL’s ineptitude.

Save for a couple of years following 2004, the rules of the game have been ‘managed’ for my entire life. This culture is embedded deep in the NHL’s DNA. It is what it is and I don’t expect it to ever change.

Posted by blammo from Vancouver, BC on 06/06/13 at 02:10 PM ET

John W.'s avatar

So a non-called hook leading to an OT goal is a travesty of justice, while a non-called boarding leading to a series winning OT goal is a good non-call that should be commended, as we were beat over the head with a stick with just last week.  Ok.

Posted by John W. from a bubble wrap cocoon on 06/06/13 at 03:08 PM ET

Red Winger's avatar

So the opposite of “let the players decide it” is…let the officials decide it? Let NHL offices decide it?

I’m confused

Posted by Red Winger from Sault Ste Marie, MI on 06/06/13 at 03:46 PM ET

CaptainDennisPolonich's avatar

So the opposite of “let the players decide it” is…let the officials decide it? Let NHL offices decide it?
I’m confused
Posted by Red Winger from Sault Ste Marie on 06/06/13 at 03:46 PM ET

Let me un-confuse you. When people say let the players decide, what they actually mean is let the officials decide.

I’m all for letting the players decide the outcome of games. So when a player decides to commit a penalty, then that penalty should be called. Whether it’s game one of the season or game seven in the playoffs. Whether it’s the first period or overtime. Call the game according to the rulebook.

What we have now is not the players deciding the outcome of games, but the officials, because they are, in fact, re-writing the rule book from game to game and period to period without a vote of the competition committee or the owners.


Posted by CaptainDennisPolonich from The Land of Fake Boobs and Real Nuts on 06/06/13 at 03:54 PM ET

Red Winger's avatar

Call the game according to the rulebook.

Read the rulebook, and then tell me it would be humanly possible to call a hockey game “by the book” in under eight hours. Hell, eight hours would be a pinnacle of human achievement; twelve hours is more probable (slight hyperbole)

We’re chasing unicorns here, and the result will always be unsatisfactory and disappointment. Why? Because there is no clear-cut definition of what, for example, “hooking” is. Add to that humans are imperfect, and, well…


Posted by Red Winger from Sault Ste Marie, MI on 06/06/13 at 04:04 PM ET

CaptainDennisPolonich's avatar

Posted by Red Winger from Sault Ste Marie on 06/06/13 at 04:04 PM ET

Completely disagree. When the rules were changed coming out of the lockout, there were tons of PP’s during the first couple of weeks. After that, not so much. Players adapt quickly. This isn’t about the players, it’s about the officials and the league that gives them their marching orders calling the games consistently from game one of the season until the cup is awarded no matter if the conduct occurs in the first period or double OT.

If the refs call it consistently to one standard (regardless of what that standard is), then they remove themselves from the equation. Once the refs start deciding not to call some penalties based on the situation, the refs are influencing the outcome of the game.

Posted by CaptainDennisPolonich from The Land of Fake Boobs and Real Nuts on 06/06/13 at 04:11 PM ET

CaptainDennisPolonich's avatar

And the team that best guesses what standard the refs will use in a given situation will win.

Posted by CaptainDennisPolonich from The Land of Fake Boobs and Real Nuts on 06/06/13 at 04:12 PM ET


I don’t care which rules or rulebook they use, just call it consistently so the players can actually decide the game. I agree 100% that the officials “managing” the game so that the players can “decide” it is an oxymoron.

Posted by hockey1919 from mid-atlantic on 06/07/13 at 04:08 PM ET

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Paul Kukla founded Kukla’s Korner in 2005 and the site has since become the must-read site on the ‘net for all the latest happenings around the NHL.

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