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Grand Rapids Griffins-Syracuse Crunch Game 2 tailings: citing ‘human error’ can’t excuse officiating

Last night, I offered my take on the insanity that was the Grand Rapids Griffins' 6-4 win over the Syracuse Crunch, and the mess was bad enough that Greg "Puck Daddy" Wyshynski gave me a plug (many thanks/much appreciated!) while trying to explain what happened over what was somewhere between 22:13 and 22:50 of play (we still don't know exactly how long the second period of last night's game lasted for sure) and three of the four disputed goals of the first two Calder Cup Final games.

The Griffins and Crunch's press weighed in at a mild-to-moderate level on Sunday night, but the Syracuse Post-Standard prefers to save its articles for 7 AM-the-next-day publication dates...

And as we survey this early afternoon's crop of Red Wings-related stories, the Post-Standard's Brent Axe offers both 5 reasons why the Crunch aren't yet crunched and a very blunt assessment of the daffy standard of officiating while pointing out that the Crunch had serious issues with the waved-off goal scored with Brett Connolly in the crease during Game 1, Tomas Jurco's goal in Game 2 and a gaggle of non-calls that the AHL is literally saying are only attributable to "human error":

No officiating crew is going to get every call right, but the fact that replay was involved in several of these situations and it was still botched is troubling. Especially the time issue. There is no justifiable reason for a referee to decide to add 2:13 to the clock on a whim with no explanation afterwords.

Where is the accountability for such a ridiculous thing? Not just from the officials, but from the league?

You can't just cite "human error" and "look into it." Someone needs to be held accountable for cheapening the game like that. Especially a game as important as the Calder Cup Finals.

If anything, it is horribly bad timing for these refs as officiating is under more of a microscope than ever due to HD TV, Twitter, and the tools in the hands of the viewing public these days.

That's a good thing. They should be held more accountable with all the power in their hands to potentially manipulate the outcome of a game.

This is the Calder Cup finals. The best of the best are supposed to be working here.

That is clearly not the case.

As Axe duly notes, the both the Connolly goal that went through the net...

And Jurco's goal were shown to the cable and internet-streaming audience via either wide-screen views or a behind-the-goal camera that looked like it had been placed behind a pane of glass slathered with dish soap.

This is the first year of video review in the AHL--some 23 years after the NHL implemented it--but at this point, the high-definition, over-the-net goal cameras that the officials (there is no AHL "war room": if a goal needs to be reviewed, one referee heads to the scorers and statisticians' booth between the penalty boxes, watches video and consults with his co-referee to make the call himself) use are not made available to broadcasters, so, at best, broadcasters have to guess what happened.

On Sunday, given that Jurco's goal apparently just dented what the Crunch's broadcasters--the team's director of community relations and a scratched player playing color commentator--and the fans were able to see as some sort of whitish membrane coaching a net-shaped blob with rust-colored, fuzzy goalposts, it was easy to suggest that a goal was not a goal...

And in all honesty, the Crunch's broadcast crew's "homerism" in suggesting a conspiracy against the team was downright understandable given the fact that both teams were called for some infractions that both subjectively and objectively seemed downright bizarre and were given the, "Let 'em play" endorsement after both teams slugged each other in the face, high sticked each other, committed so much grabbing, groping, slugging, hacking and whacking after the whistle that a TSA agent trying to take advantage of "bulges" in notorious Kings fan and porn star Taylor Stevens to engage in a FULL pat-down would've been jealous.

The Post-Standard's Lindsay Kramer addressed the issues in "mostly just the facts" fashion in his recap (and this morning, he noted that the Crunch desperately miss Radko Gudas)...

The fun started at the 12:09 mark, when Tomas Jurco potted a power-play goal from the left side of the crease to send the Griffins up 4-2. His shot appeared to hit the cross bar and fly back into play, but the goal was reviewed and stood. Crunch goalie Cedrick Desjardins didn't see what happened when the puck flew behind him, but by sound he thought the goal hit the inside of the crossbar, which would make it good.

"I heard the bar,'' Desjardins said. "I was pretty sure it was in.''

With 1:37 left in the period, Syracuse's J.T. Brown whistled a shot on goal as teammate J.T. Wyman screened Mrazek. The puck clanged off the boards and play continued.

"I had no clue. I couldn't really see,'' Brown said of his aim. "When I got back to the bench, the guys said the saw the net move.''

Specifically, the sharp-eyed player was Philippe Paradis, who passed his opinion on to head coach Rob Zettler.

"In my mind, you have to give it a shot,'' Zettler said of asking for a video review.

"I didn't see it. He got his shot and the guy was screaming and I didn't think it could be in,'' Mrazek said. "I was surprised when the ref reviewed the goal. I didn't even know what he was doing. I felt it hit my shoulder a little bit and then the puck was in the corner.''


"I thought it sailed wide,'' said Griffins head coach Jeff Blashill. "But what am I going to do?''

And the Post-Standard's Bud Poliquin offered a "spirit of the thing" take on the Crunch's status. The team experienced exactly ONE playoff loss in rounds 1-3, but they're down 2-0 in round 4, and as such, Poliquin suggests that, "There is no joy in Mudville" because the Crunch are whiffing at their at-bats...Even though we're seeing balls called as strikes and strikes called fouls and fouls deemed to be worth a soccer ball free kick after someone answers the Bridge of Death's bridgekeeper's 3 questions (be careful when asked about your favorite color!):

Six goals were scored, three by each side, including a slapper by the Crunch's J.T. Brown that basically went unseen by the vast majority of the fans, the four officials and most of the skaters. In fact, it took some five minutes in real-world time for it to dawn on the deciders that Brown's shot hadn't missed rocketing to the back of the net. Rather, it had traveled cleanly through it.

Baseball has its hidden-ball trick; hockey, apparently has its disappearing-puck play. But truth is truth, even if delivered late . . . and the truth is, Brown's shot did clear the shoulder of Grand Rapids goalie Petr Mrazek and finally got the locals, who'd trailed by scores of 1-0, 2-0, 2-1, 3-1, 3-2, 4-2 and 4-3, even at 4-4.

Naturally, after it had been determined -- mysteriously, it seemed at the time -- following a retroactive review of the video that the affair was, in fact, tied, the joint went up for grabs.

Emotion , though, can make for an unpredictable passenger in the sidecar. The Crunch's response to that tardy gift? It allowed the Griffins a fifth score seconds later and then a sixth one in the third period.

And that was that. In 26 hours, the best hockey team that this town has ever seen had lost 3-1 and 6-4. They'd struck out, is what they did. In classic Mudville style, they'd removed all that joy and had left their coach no choice but to vow that his bunch would swing the sticks again.

Onto Grand Rapids, which is no place for this Syracuse season to die. We might, however, have to consider the possibility.

Here's hoping that, whatever the outcome may be, it's determined by the players and not the officials.

Filed in: | The Malik Report | Permalink


OnlyWings's avatar

So my question is how does the Referring in Hockey get fixed??  Does this start with the owners or Buttman? 

It is mistake ridden and inconsistent.  When something is bad from the NHL down to minor hockey it can’t be blamed only on the people in stripes and whistles.

Someone is training these refs and I truly believe in the NHL they are getting marching orders from people that are their bosses on how to apply so called rules in Pre season, starts of seasons, playoffs, periods of the game, overtime, certain teams, players, etc etc . One rule book used in many different ways. I don’t know what level it starts at but I would start at Jim Gregory and work my way back up the ladder to Buttman and find the answers!

For now I just expect it to stay inconsistent and bad. For the teams I cheer for I just hope it doesn’t cost a game, championship, injury… At the minor league level kids are quitting hockey and registrations are dropping.

Fans and players can’t fix this mess, IMO.

Posted by OnlyWings on 06/10/13 at 12:59 PM ET


I am glad that (if they were correct) they fixed their bad calls.

I never buy into conspiracies so I am sure they did see someting that was pretty clear. I am just curious how it all worked out and why there is not a way for us to see what they saw.

Is there a rule about the video ref (?) reviewing the game as the game continues? Does any spprt do that? Or is it understood that you stop the game, get calls right , then move on?

it was just so weird how it took place.

Like I said I am glad that if the call was right they fixed it, I want the Griffs to win without “hockey gods” involved. But the whole idea of going back like that felt weird last night.

Posted by lancer on 06/10/13 at 01:09 PM ET

Primis's avatar

Said it before, will say it again:  the Crunch are having trouble skating with GR’s top unit.

The Crunch fans can whine all they want but, they can’t ask Desjardins to stop so many good chances a game and hope to win.  Cedric is good but… not that good.  GR’s is just outclassing them.  I believe the Crunch starting 5 skaters in Game 2 had not a single TB-property player on it (goalie Desjardins is still Tampa property I think?).  GR’s starting 6 were all DET property, every one.

That’s all you need to know, right there.  SYR has some good TB property guys but, not as many, and not of same caliber as GR’s DET guys.

It’s probably easier to blame the officials than realize you’re just getting outgunned and outskated by a young team full of NHL prospects.

Posted by Primis on 06/10/13 at 01:39 PM ET

MsRedWingFan's avatar

When something is bad from the NHL down to minor hockey it can’t be blamed only on the people in stripes and whistles.

Someone is training these refs and I truly believe in the NHL they are getting marching orders from people that are their bosses on how to apply so called rules in Pre season, starts of seasons, playoffs, periods of the game, overtime, certain teams, players, etc etc . One rule book used in many different ways. I don’t know what level it starts at but I would start at Jim Gregory and work my way back up the ladder to Buttman and find the answers!



Posted by MsRedWingFan from West Michgian on 06/10/13 at 05:12 PM ET

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The Malik Report is a destination for all things Red Wings-related. I offer biased, perhaps unprofessional-at-times and verbose coverage of my favorite team, their prospects and developmental affiliates. I've joined the Kukla's Korner family with five years of blogging under my belt, and I hope you'll find almost everything you need to follow your Red Wings at a place where all opinions are created equal and we're all friends, talking about hockey and the team we love to follow.