I have a small bone to pick with the officiating during that Montreal Canadiens game last Saturday night against the Dallas Stars.
I want to be very clear in this particular complaint, and note that I don’t feel this sequence from the officials impacted the result of the game. I do, however, feel that the officials missed two opportunities to avoid a potential player injury.
They missed a clear slashing call against Nick Suzuki, and his stick remained in the slot as the play went all the way back into the Montreal zone. The play would later come back towards the Dallas net, with the stick causing Evgenii Dadonov to bobble the puck, and Brendan Gallagher to trip and fall violently into the boards.
The play should have been dead after the slash on Suzuki.— Matt Drake (@DrakeMT) October 23, 2022
Not only do they not call it, this genius crew of officials don't clear the stick and Gallagher ends up hurting himself by stepping on it.
Clown show from the officials. pic.twitter.com/bToVNH2LvE
Gallagher would leave the game briefly, but would return. As of this writing, there is no word on whether he’s going to miss any time, but as my colleague Patrik Bexell noted yesterday, allowing him to return to the game was likely not the best decision. Alas, the good news is that he appears to have avoided anything serious on the play.
Even so, there is a lot left to be desired from the officials on that sequence overall. Firstly, if you make the initial call, there is nothing to discuss. I’m not a big fan of slashing calls when the stick isn’t broken, but they are called almost religiously in the NHL, so I’m not sure what about that play made it a non-call. At any rate, missed calls happen, but they also just left that stick hanging around despite having plenty of time to remove it as the play moved 180 feet away from the area.
On-ice officials are not procedurally required to remove broken or discarded pieces of equipment from the ice, but it is an underrated courtesy that they can provide. I would argue that, in particular, a piece of equipment sitting right in the slot should be given some extra consideration on their part.
Not only did that stick end up affecting Dadonov’s scoring opportunity, it caused Gallagher’s violent fall into the boards. It would have taken all of three seconds for the back official to retrieve it when the play went all the way into the Canadiens zone, and then there would again be nothing to discuss.
Of course, some have pointed out that doing so could impact that official’s ability to call penalties as the play goes the other way. In a four-official system, it should be entirely possible for the play to be covered at the other end for three seconds while a stick is removed from a dangerous area.
And this brings me back to the fact that both officials missed the initial penalty anyways, when there was no debris being removed from the field of play by either of them. Two sets of eyes managed to miss that call, so I don’t see the advantage in leaving a piece of equipment in a high-traffic area of the ice to maintain their availability for a brief moment.
For what it’s worth, I don’t think I’d ever complain about a missed call if one official happened to be trying to make the playing surface a little safer in missing it.