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Call for understanding makes sense, but offers little solace to Oilers fans
John MacKinnon, The Edmonton Journal
Published: Sunday, November 05, 2006


EDMONTON - At the end of a tough week for his offcials, especially Mick McGeough, Stephen Walkom, the NHL's director of officiating, deployed his sharp wit to try to defuse an inescapably bad situation.

Might McGeough be disciplined for whistling a non-existent hand pass by Shawn Horcoff, disallowing Ryan Smyth's apparent tying goal in the dying seconds of Edmonton's 3-2 loss to Dallas on Friday night?

"Well, I'll tell you, he's not getting a raise," Walkom said with a wry chuckle. "In all seriousness, he feels terrible right now. I think Mick answered it best. He didn't use good judgment.

"It would be very difficult for me, running a team of officials, to criticize my own guy. I actually want to praise him for taking ownership about making a mistake. It created a lot of controversy and may have cost a team a point or a game. I think it's big news because it rarely happens. And maybe that's a good thing."

Which doesn't do a damn thing for the Oilers, or their shellshocked fans, many of whom sat in stunned disbelief at Rexall Place after seeing their team apparently wipe out a 3-1 deficit with two straight goals with goalie Dwayne Roloson pulled for a sixth attacker.

An inspiring comeback wiped out by a glaring, inexplicable mistake. "Human error," Walkom called it, a term more commonly associated with horrible plane crashes or disasters at sea.

Oilers fan Jim Knutsen's response was to compose this simple message for the NHL big shots.

Dear NHL,

You owe the Edmonton Oilers one point. Your standings indicate that Dallas won the game 3-2, when in fact the Oilers tied the game with four seconds remaining. Please fix your error in the standings.

Thank you,

Jim Knutsen

Sorry, Jim.

Not going to happen.

McGeough and Walkom discussed the matter Saturday afternoon, but unlike Oilers head coach Craig MacTavish, who was fined $10,000 US for branding the call "retarded," or Atlanta Thrashers head man Bob Hartley, who was dinged a similar amount for verbal abuse of the officials after Atlanta beat Washington 4-3 Friday night, McGeough won't be disciplined. Although this can't possibly help his case to be included in the playoff rotation.

"He's the first guy to tell you that he'd like to roll back the clock and have that one back," Walkom said of McGeough, who will officiate in his 1,000th NHL game this season.

"It basically was a human error."

But once McGeough blew his whistle, the scoring play was moot, maddening as that may be for Oilers fans.

For all concerned, you hope this out-and-out flub has a short shelf life. You hope the Oilers, for example, don't miss out on the playoff tournament by a single point, not an unlikely event, given recent history.

In that doomsday scenario, a blown call in November would live in infamy forever -- fans' dreams shattered; millions in post-season revenue gone.

As it is, the league's officiating team took some verbal lumps this week, including some from Philadelphia sniper Peter Forsberg, who was upset about a non-call against Tampa and what he believed was an undeserved high-sticking call on him late in the Flyers' 5-3 loss to the Lightning on Thursday.

FULL STORY
 

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That’s unfortunate for the Oilers, but its not the first time a ref has made a bad call and certainly will not be the last. Just something you have to deal with.
 
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