Daley Arm Sweep Goal: A Game of Inches

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There was an interesting play in the second period of last night’s game at Joe Louis Arena between the Detroit Red Wings and Dallas Stars. At the 7:08 mark, there was a scramble around the Detroit net and the Stars scored a would-be goal.

On the play, sprawled Dallas defenseman Trevor Daley was unable to reach the puck with his stick and, instead swept it toward the goal line with his arm.

Just as the puck entirely crossed the goal line, a Detroit player got his stick on the puck and pulled it back into the crease. Daley then knocked the puck back into the net with his stick.

All of this happened in barely more than the span of one second. What a game of inches hockey truly is! Let’s deconstruct this:

1) Daley did not score a legal goal because he played the puck over the goal line with arm.

2) Had the Detroit player been able to prevent the puck from entirely crossing the line, however, Daley’s subsequent second effort would have made the play a legal goal.

Meanwhile there is another component at work here, at it’s a good example of why I harp time and time again on why I believe the NHL gives its officials poor coaching. As the play initially unfolded, referee Francis Charron was stationed in the corner — which is what they guys are getting coached to do.

To his credit, Charron skated at the net and was in perfect position to pick up Daley’s second effort and see it was played into the net legally. However, because he was not in the best position in the first place, he did not the ideal vantage point to pick up how Daley initially played the puck over the line with his arm.

Given how fast things unfolded, Charron had no chance of picking up what initially happened as he moved out from the corner — and he was absolutely hustling here, that was not the issue. The issue was that he was coached to be the wrong position and by the time he hurried into the right position, he’d missed the most crucial details of the play. Everything else that happened once Daley played the puck over the line didn’t matter because play was dead at that point.

Therefore, I will repeat my mantra again: The money is at the net, boys. Get to the net and don’t worry about “being in the way”. Charron did everything he’s coached to do and it still took a lengthy replay delay to determine the correct call.

I think there still would have been a video review either way, but there would have been less to sort out.

********* Paul Stewart holds the distinction of being the first U.S.-born citizen to make it to the NHL as both a player and referee. On March 15, 2003, he became the first American-born referee to officiate in 1,000 NHL games.

Today, Stewart is an officiating and league discipline consultant for the Kontinental Hockey League (KHL) and serves as director of hockey officiating for the Eastern College Athletic Conference (ECAC).

The longtime referee heads Officiating by Stewart, a consulting, training and evaluation service for officials. Stewart also maintains a busy schedule as a public speaker, fund raiser and master-of-ceremonies for a host of private, corporate and public events. As a non-hockey venture, he is the owner of Lest We Forget.

In addition to his blogs for HockeyBuzz every Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday, Stewart writes a column every Wednesday for the Huffington Post.