Just thinking about Washington Capitals forward Joel Ward's series-clinching overtime goal in Boston Wednesday still gives me the chills, and I'm sure a lot of you feel the same.
Yet, can you imagine how gut-wrenching and heartbreaking it would have been if that goal would not have counted? Because apparently, it shouldn't have.
Ex-NHL referee Kerry Fraser has his own blog on TSN's website where he answers questions from fans. Reader Derek asked Fraser what he thought about the contact that Caps forward Mike Knuble made with Bruins goaltender Tim Thomas before the goal. Here's what Fraser had to say:
It would defy logic to maintain that rule 69, as it is written, was not sufficiently violated for the referee to disallow this goal.
Rule 69.1 — "Interference on the Goalkeeper...Goals should be disallowed only if: (1) an attacking player, either by his positioninvg or by contact, impairs the goalkeeper's ability to move freely within his crease or defend his goal; or (2) an attacking player initiates intentional or deliberate contact with a goalkeeper, inside or outside of his goal crease.
"The overriding rationale of this rule is that a goalkeeper should have the ability to move freely within his goal crease without being hindered by the actions of an attacking player. If an attacking player enters the goal crease and, by his actions, impairs the goalkeeper's ability to defend his goal, and a goal is scored, the goal will be disallowed."
Mike Knuble was not pushed, shoved or fouled by a defending player so as to cause him to come into contact with Thomas. It matters not if the contact on Thomas by Knuble was deemed to be deliberate or incidental other than a minor penalty that might result. What matters most is that all the elements of rule 69.1 were violated and the goal should have been waved off.
Decisions of this magnitude are never popular but sometimes they just have to be made.
It's a good thing that Fraser retired, right? Though, in fairness, if any team would have a game-winning overtime goal waved off in a Game 7, it would be the Caps. Dodged a bullet there.