Rush to justice

TERRY JONES -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 7:23 AM ET

ST. PAUL, Minnesota -- It was a ridiculous rush to justice.

If the Edmonton Oilers miss the playoffs by a point, Ian Sandercock will go down in Oilers history. So will Mike Murphy.

How can a league which took more than 10 minutes reviewing a Ryan Smyth goal during a late night shootout in Vancouver not take more than a couple of minutes here and end up getting it wrong?

Michael Peca scored a goal which would have given the Oilers a 2-1 lead in the second period here last night. But the goal never made it to the scoreboard. And Edmonton ended up losing 2-1 in a shootout.

And it was a goal. No debate. Too late.

"I have the same evaluation as everyone else,'' said coach Craig MacTavish.

"Clearly it was over the goal line.

"The thing that upsets me the most was how they rushed the decision.

"It was a rash and quick decision. We've waited 10 to 12 minutes before. The mantra is to make sure you've got the right call.''

They didn't wait. They got it wrong.

"They gave us an apology. But they didn't give us 90 points. We have 89 points. An apology isn't worth much when you get screwed like that.''

MacTavish was happy with the way his hockey club played, especially how they put the incident behind them and got on with the game. But they didn't finish. Radek Dvorak, in particular, missed three golden chances.

"Inability to finish,'' said MacTavish. "And when we did finish, it didn't count.

"If we just continue to play that good reliable game we won't have anything to fear except the reviews,'' added the league's most quotable coach.

What happened?

LEAGUE GOT IT WRONG

Murphy, at mission control in Toronto, admitted to Oilers GM Kevin Lowe at the end of the second period that Minnesota video goal judge Sandercock and the league got it wrong.

"We got screwed,'' said Lowe.

"The video guy here was convinced it wasn't in. The league said 'Go with what you have.' Within seconds Toronto got another view,'' he said of the SportsNet feed.

"Then they saw it. It was in the net.''

By that point, referee Don VanMassenhoven had dropped the puck. Once the puck is dropped, there's no reversing a decision.

"Murphy thought it was going on too long,'' said Lowe of the normal length video replay delay of a couple of minutes.

"It's about having all the views,'' added Lowe. "Toronto admitted once they had all the views, it was in the net. So did the guy here. Toronto said they called back and told the guy here 'We have it in.' Apparently the guy here had seen it by then, too, and said 'Now I see it.' ''

Lowe, at one point, tried to force his way into the video goal judge room but was locked out.

"That's testing our patience to the absolute limit,'' he said.

Lowe, a member of the new NHL competition committee, said the whole system with a mission control in Toronto was invented to prevent this exact situation.

"We feel we've got it dialed in about 98%,'' he said. "There have probably been about a dozen of them this year. We saw some of them just before the Olympics.''

The Wild scored in the first but Ryan Smyth made a great individual effort down the wing and went to the net to score shorthanded 36 seconds into the second period.

Still shorthanded, Peca took a whack at the puck. It was stopped by goaltender Manny Fernandez with his goal stick. But the replay proved his stick was in the net and the puck, when it hit the stick, was over the line. "To have two shorthanded goals on the same penalty would have been huge,'' said Lowe. "That's a tough team to play against. They're easier to play against when you get the lead.''

Peca said the whole thing doesn't make sense.

'IT'S AMAZING'

"I can't understand how our league can't have the ability to see what our video guy can see sitting downstairs in a spare dressing room. It's amazing. Both teams had people in the rink who saw it and knew it was a goal before they decided it wasn't. Their TV crew and our TV crew both saw it and knew it was a goal. Everybody at home could see it was a goal.''

Indeed. You could even lipread on a press box monitor an assistant coach on the Minnesota bench telling Wild coach Jacques Lemaire, "It's a goal'' just before VanMassenhoven made the signal it was no goal.

"He told us at the start of the third period that it was a goal,'' said Peca. "Somebody should be held accountable for that.''

You think?


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