Today, I watched the Rangers/Flyers game on NBC in HD and the Penguins/Bruins game (not on the NHL Network in HD, in spite of what the guide said – good thing I checked and recorded it on Center Ice where it was on in standard definition, but at least it was playing – the NHL Network chose to show replays of the Maple Leafs/Flames game from yesterday and then the Canadiens/Devils instead of airing the Penguins/Bruins game live. I can’t even begin to understand that programming choice, but I’m sure there was a good reason.
Those of you who watched the Penguins game know that Chris Kunitz (acquired from the Ducks in an early trade around the trade deadline along with Eric Tangradi for Ryan Whitney) scored his first hat trick with the Penguins… or did he? What you might not know if you didn’t look at the stats a while after the game is that Kunitz’s one goal (and, therefore, his hat trick) away. When I was watching the game, I didn’t think he had touched the puck (clearly they later found out that Kunitz hadn’t tipped the puck in), but I think there should be some time limit on when they can change the scoring of a goal in the NHL.
In talking to one of the NHL employees who works on that in Anaheim after the game, I found out that there really is no time limit. Guys sometimes remember after the game that they might have touched the puck or the team’s people look at the goals a little bit more closely and realize that a certain guy did or didn’t touch the puck. They said at that point it’s up to the main NHL office in Toronto to make the call and take closer looks at the goal and make the scoring change. It was my understanding that the Toronto office looked at every goal and closely analyzed it at the time of the goal, so I don’t really see how this can happen. I would assume the offices in Toronto have HD feed even though all games aren’t televised in HD and are looking at the goals very closely. I know the NHL officials at the rink don’t always have HD capabilities, but I assume that the office where they make all the final decisions has the latest technology and closely examines each goal right after it happens. It would seem in that case the goal scoring records would not need to be changed after the fact.
I don’t know exactly when Kunitz’s goal was taken away from him, but I know it wasn’t announced until after the game, since my dad (who was at today’s game in Pittsburgh) learned about the change while listening to the post game show on his way home from the game. Considering the fact that it was not a late goal, I think they should be able to make that call earlier and not change that late.
The goals are reviewed at the time for a reason. The goal announcements are often delayed as the NHL powers that be try to determine who scored a goal, the assists, etc. I think once the final whistle blows all goals (other than the goal or goals in the last couple minutes of the game) should be finalized and no more changes should be made to the scoring. Would mistakes be made occasionally? Sure. Mistakes are made sometimes in baseball and football on whether a home run is a home run or should be called a foul ball. They review the plays at the time and sometimes they make the wrong call. In hockey, they’re not taking back a goal – that is reviewed at the time and I’ve never heard of a goal being disallowed after the fact. Changing who scored a goal is clearly not as drastic a change, but I still think it’s something they should determine in a specified amount of time.