As a former Maple Leafs coach, Mike Murphy can relate to Paul Maurice's frustrations.
He can even sympathize with the injury woes Maurice's team is being forced to deal with, a disturbing trend that continued with the news yesterday that forward John Pohl likely will be out at least two weeks with a suspected high-ankle sprain.
Having said that, Murphy, the NHL's senior vice-president of hockey operations, confidently stands by the controversial video replay decisions that left Maurice seething in the Leafs' 3-2 overtime loss to the Carolina Hurricanes on Thursday night.
"We are extremely comfortable with those reviews," Murphy said yesterday. "In each case, we looked at five, six, seven angles before coming to a determination. And in each case, the referees' original call stood up. If there is a sliver of doubt, it is difficult to overturn the original call. We don't want to take authority away from the officials."
In a terse post-game press conference, Maurice claimed Scott Walker's third-period goal was deflected with a high stick. He also insisted that Jason Blake's short-side stuffing attempt later in the period should have been ruled a goal.
"If you want to get the story, go ask the people who made the judgments," Maurice said. "It's not mine. We disagree. That's all I have to say."
Murphy and fellow league VPs Jim Gregory and Colin Campbell were all in the video war room at the NHL's Toronto offices Thursday.
"What Paul said did not offend myself or anyone else with the league," Murphy said. "In fact, if Paul hadn't been that emotional you would have wondered if something was wrong. It was an emotional game."
When Leafs TV zoomed in on the Blake replay, they freeze-framed a shot that caused the announcers to suggest the puck had crossed the goal line.
"I actually felt that shot left even more doubt that the puck was in," Murphy said.
Compounding the Leafs' frustrations was a marginal minor called on Nik Antropov in overtime that led to Rod Brind'Amour's winning goal.
As the Hurricanes celebrated, a bitter Antropov chucked his stick in the direction of referees Mike Leggo and Don Koharski, earning an automatic three-game suspension.
"There were a lot of controversial situations during the game," Leafs GM Cliff Fletcher said. "Not one went in our favour."
As for Pohl, Fletcher was waiting for MRI results late yesterday afternoon.
"We fear he has a high-ankle sprain," Fletcher said.