The dreaded early whistle and the “intent to blow” rule have caused some serious headaches for hockey fans. The official loses sight of the puck and blows the play dead when the puck is clearly loose and potentially heading for the back of the net.
Another early whistle occurred during Game 5 between the Rangers and Flyers on Sunday, costing the Rangers a goal. Ultimately it didn’t matter as the Rangers took home a victory, but this mistake could have been a critical one had the Rangers lost.
As you might expect, Rangers fans weren’t too happy. They cried foul and demanded the play be reviewed. Here’s the problem – plays like this are almost impossible to review. You could review when the whistle blew and if the puck crossed before play was stopped, but in most cases the issue is that the official called a halt to play in the first place. The issue is that he couldn’t see the puck and thus blew his whistle. Are you supposed to review the official’s ability to see the puck? That’s pretty much impossible.
This is a lose-lose situation. There really is no way to correct a mistake like this one. However, that doesn’t mean there aren’t measures to be taken to cut down on plays like this. NHL officiating as a whole is laughable and this is just the most recent example illustrating the problem. The league needs to take a hard look at their officiating and take steps to improve.