All eyes may have been on the refs screwing Kansas City in last night’s Super Bowl, but this one was an under-the-radar gem.Photo: Getty ImagesThe day after the Super Bowl is a comedown for everyone, and probably more so in the midst of a pandemic where (if you’re logical) you’re stuck inside your house. The NHL and NBA seasons are in their dull bridge section, even in this shortened and changed schedule. Spring training is about to begin, but the only reason anyone tunes into spring training is to just watch sunshine. But hey, you don’t have to go without watching people you’re positive are worse at their jobs than you are at yours. I know the NFL refs provide that on a weekly basis so that you never have withdrawal for five months, and you fear what comes next. The NHL referees are here to save the day. Yesterday, in the far superior Super Bowl pregame show, the refs and linesmen for the Hurricanes-Blue Jackets game, along with the video replay officials in both Columbus and Toronto, put on the abstract, absurdist theater you always talked about doing in college but never actually got around to doing, telling yourself that it would be too “real” for the audience. It all started with this Vincent Trocheck goal that gave the Canes a 4-3 lead:G/O Media may get a commissionLooks pretty innocuous at first, right? Except a few seconds before that goal, this happened:The Jackets saw that. They challenged the goal for offsides. And they were right. Except they weren’t told they were right. In fact, the linesmen and the personnel in the arena and back at the war room decided they were wrong, which not only meant the goal stood, but the Jackets would be assessed a two-minute delay of game penalty. With 1:15 left in the period at the time, they finished out the second on the kill. Of course, what people inside the arena noticed as odd is that during the intermission, all the officials sprinted across the ice from their locker room down the Jackets tunnel. And when the third period started, suddenly the Jackets were at full-strength, even though only 1:15 of the delay-of-game penalty had been served and the Canes hadn’t scored on the power play. The Canes power play...c’est disparu. Turns out, the officials discovered that in fact the Canes were offsides before the Trocheck goal shouldn’t have counted. But they’d called the penalty, let the 2nd period run out, so...here’s your gift card?The NHL released this statement:Only in the NHL would they try a half-measure to fix things when they’ve fucked up. The NBA always releases its Two-Minute report, and the NFL always says stuff on Tuesdays. But what’s amazing is how this could have happened in the first place. Did they not have this angle during the review? Did someone’s connection cut out? Did someone just not listen? Whatever the answers are, you can be sure they’re hilarious. It’s hockey, after all. It probably requires a clown-nose. “Miscommunication” gives anyone a bigger shelter for whatever cock-up they’ve committed. Would it have made a difference? Impossible to know. But there’s a big difference between starting the third trailing by a goal and tied. Max Domi did tie the game in the third before the Canes scored twice more to win it. Still, you have to love the NHL and its refs acting like a flustered, overmatched floor manager desperately trying to not get the health department called on the place. .
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