Anyone who knows me knows I’m a die-hard Chicago Blackhawks fan. No longer do I live and die by when games are on as I once did, but blame that on maturity, realizing there’s more to this world than sports or to having kids I’d rather spend all my time with. Nonetheless, I love watching my Blackhawks…even if it’s just a regular season game. But, one thing I take pride in most as a sports fan and even as a non-professional sports player was winning with honesty. For example, I don’t like to win off a cheapened or missed call…I don’t like to win when things aren’t completely fair. In essence, I don’t want excuses if I win a game and I don’t want there to be excuses if one of my teams wins. Last night, I watched the Blackhawks play host to the Colorado Avalanche. The ‘Hawks ended up winning the game 6-3 but it was the turning point in the game that I question. In the third period, there was a questionable situation when Blackhawks Captain, Jonathan Toews, didn’t make it back onside before the puck reached the Avalanche zone. Moments later, Blackhawks Defenseman, Duncan Keith, scored a goal to leave the Blackhawks trailing 3-2 at that point. Immediately after the goal, Avalanche Head Coach, Jared Bednar challenged whether Toews was offside. Here is where my issue takes place and here’s where I think the NHL refs have too much decision-making ability. Though replays clearly showed Toews did not make it back onside before the puck entered the Avalanche zone, the call on the ice stood… “good goal”. After the game, more clarity from the NHL was provided when they explained that it was inconclusive whether the puck was actually “touched” by the Blackhawks before Toews made it back onside. This is known as “delayed offside”. This means, if a puck enters the opposing team’s zone and a player is technically offside, if the puck hasn’t yet been touched by the offensive team, the offside player has the opportunity to stake onside (across the blue line in the non-offensive zone) and have “offside” be waived off. That is what the NHL is saying occurred last night with Toews. Soon after, the Blackhawks would explode for 4 more goals in the third period and win the game 6-3.
As a Blackhawks fan, I look at a play like this with questionable eyes and I also remember a very similar circumstance earlier this season when the Blackhawks played the Minnesota Wild and Zach Parise didn’t seem to make it back onside in time. The problem, in my opinion, is that the NHL referees are able to make these “inconclusive” calls themselves rather than relying on the “war room” in Toronto (NHL Headquarters). Close calls such as these, no matter the team you root for, should be made by the “war room” and the “war room” alone. Referees have enough fast-paced action to keep track of and have been making just too many questionable calls on the ice. Perhaps with the NHL’s explanation of what occurred last night for the Blackhawks is 100% true or perhaps it’s just their way of trying to make up an excuse. Am I happy the Blackhawks won? Yes. Am I wondering if we actually deserved to have that turning point occur? Yes.