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[Video + Explanation] Thomas Vanek's Overtime Overturned Goal

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Just marking this one for future reference.

For posterity's sake, this is what a kicking motion looks like in the eyes of the NHL situation room (or at least in the eyes of those who staff it for a noon game on a weekend where the league has two outdoor games to highlight).

At 3:45 of overtime in the Blues/Islanders game, video review determined that New York's Thomas Vanek used his left skate to kick the puck into the St. Louis net. According to Rule 49.2 "A goal cannot be scored by an attacking player who uses a distinct kicking motion to propel the puck into the net." No goal New York Islanders.

Of course the Islanders broadcasters on MSG did not agree with that call, which altered the outcome of what ended up being a 4-3 shootout win for the Blues. Some hilarious in-the-moment reactions, particularly from Howie Rose:

  • Rose, at the time: "I don't see how you can possibly overturn it, frankly."
  • Butch Goring: "There's no way. He's just being moved out of the way. That was his motion, spinning around. The call is a goal on the ice, so to me it has to be something dramatic to reverse it."
  • And then Rose, after the call from the overlords in Toronto came in (interrupting his shootout mini-rant): "Aww you're kidding! Are you kidding me? Wow. I'm shocked."
  • And Goring, afterward: "His foot's going the opposite direction that the puck is, so I don't know how you get this call..."

Anyway, keep all this in mind for next time the very ambiguously interpreted "kicking" rule comes into play:

Vanek, too, was perplexed:

"I don’t know if it’s because who we are," Vanek said. "I think if that’s Pittsburgh or one of those top teams, it’s maybe a goal. I don’t know. To me, it’s just a terrible call."

You know it's serious when league critic Larry Brooks veers off an anti-Tortorella column to discuss the replay issues -- er, wait, never mind, he was taking up the cause of a different NHL replay issue.

Kerry Fraser: War Room Got it Wrong

UPDATE: Here's former NHL ref Kerry Fraser's interpretation at TSN, prompted by a letter from our own Turgeon1992:

To the referee's eye, mind and perspective Thomas Vanek did NOT use a "distinct kicking motion" to propel the puck past Blues goalie Jaroslav Halak and score the game-winning goal in overtime. This was another example of an "officiating decision" made correctly on the ice that was overturned by "non-officiating personnel" that staff the Situation Room on a nightly basis. (NFL and MLB employ and empower referees/umpires to make final video review decisions).


If there has been a "distinct" change in the criteria that the Situation Room employs in rendering their exclusive decisions, perhaps it is time they advise the rest of the hockey world!

Damn straight.