I have heard nothing but complaints from Leafs fans the past few days regarding Jonathan Bernier’s terrible misplay of the puck that led to a goal last Thursday night when the leafs played the Carolina Hurricanes. During the game, Bernier let in a 175 foot goal, which some people think is controversial due to the new “hybrid icing” rule in the NHL.
On the play, the Carolina player shot the puck down the ice; a play in which, up until this year, a Toronto defenceman and Carolina forward would race towards the puck to either create or negate an icing call. On this particular play Thursday night though, the icing was called off because the linesman believed the Carolina forward was ahead of the leafs defenceman by the hash marks, which is the new reference point when players are “racing” for an icing. Since the linesman deemed the Carolina forward ahead of the Leafs’ player at the hash marks, the icing was waved off. The puck then took a crazy bounce off the boards and into the net.
I have heard far too many comments about this new icing rule to be “dumb” or “stupid: by countless Leaf fans since that goal, and the reality is there is nothing controversial about this goal. Being a Leaf fan myself, I was horrified by the goal and could not believe Bernier would allow that goal. However, the fact of the matter is, the hybrid icing rule was brought into the league in all the right ways. The American Hockey League introduced the rule last season to introduce it to the players and see what they thought. It was then tested during this year’s NHL preseason and voted on by the players, and received a ton of support.
The goal was not a result of the new rule, but a terrible misplay by the Leaf’s goalie. Sure everyone has their own opinion on whether or not the linesman was correct in calling off the icing, but the linesman, just like umpires and referees in any other sport, are always going to have an element of human error. But I will side with a professional referee more often than not on close calls, because they are much more trained and closer to the action than I ever will be.
The bottom line is Jonathan Bernier misplayed the puck. Something that will happen many more times this season, let alone his career, and is also something that happens to every goalie in the league on a very regular basis. This misplay just happened to be more magnified, something that is unfortunate but every rational hockey fan should realize.