Saturday, February 15, 2014

Close Call of Week: Russia Goal Disallowed v USA Hockey

Our Close Call of the Week flies in from Sochi, Russia's Bolshoy Ice Dome where Team USA knocked off Russia in an epic shootout thriller of men's hockey. At the heart of the matter, however, was an apparent Russian goal late in the third period that was waived off after video instant replay review, allowing the game to proceed to overtime in the first place.

With 4:40 remaining in the third period, Russian skater Fedor Tyutin shot from the upper offensive zone on and in goal for what was then ruled a good goal and 3-2 Russian lead. After referee Brad Meier's initial mechanic of "score the goal"—the referee must make this call when a puck finds its way into the net unless another call (the waive-off) is necessary—all four officials got together before formal video review at the scorer's bench.

This IIHF screenshot release shows the goal net off its
mooring at the time of the disallowed goal (4:40).
Pursuant to International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) Rule 471(a)5, which states "no goal shall be allowed...if the goal net has been displaced from its normal position, or the frame of the goal net is not completely flat on the ice."

After video review, the goal was negated and play resumed from the point of interruption. Replays indicate USA goalkeeper Jonathan Quick appeared to displace the goal net while attempting a routine hockey move. His actions cannot conclusively be classified as deliberate or intentional.

Had the referees deemed Quick deliberately displaced the goal net, no goal would have been awarded to Tyutin for the infraction. Rule 554b states that if the goalkeeper "deliberately displaces the goal frame from its normal position, [he] shall be assessed a minor penalty." As for awarding a goal, Rule 554b(d) states that a goal may be awarded only if a goalkeeper has been removed from the ice when the infraction occurs; otherwise a minor penalty is assessed unless the criteria for a penalty shot are met (last two minutes of game or overtime; opponent in control with no opponent between him and the goalkeeper with a reasonable opportunity to score).

Contrary to popular belief, it was not referee Brad Meier of the USA and NHL who unilaterally ruled "no goal" because as a referee, he did not have access to video instant replay. Instead, that responsibility fell to the video goal judge, who reviewed whether the puck had entered the net prior to the goal frame being displaced, as in IIHF Rule 330(b)2. The goal judges listed for the match include Chris Carlson of Canada and Andre Schrader of Germany; the video goal judge is not included.

Procedural Rule 4 states that in the case of an inconclusive video review, the referee makes the final decision. As evidenced by the attached photograph, visual evidence tends to conclusively indicate the goal frame was dislodged, as in 471(a)5.

IIHF referee supervisor Konstantin Komissarov soon thereafter confirmed the no goal ruling and video review process was proper and correct. Interestingly enough, prior to the Vancouver games of 2010, Komissarov and NHL officiating director Terry Gregson mulled whether to assign and allow Canadian referee Dan O'Halloran and Canadian referee Bill McCrearly and Canadian linesman Jean Morin to officiate the gold medal game between Canada and the United States. At the time, Gregson posed a philosophical question saying, "Will we be using the best or are there political ramifications to our decisions?"

The IIHF and NHL referee supervisors then voted to put three Canadian officials on the Canada-USA game. The fourth—linesman Stefan Fonselius—was from Finland. Canada ultimately won that contest in overtime, 3-2.

A similar IIHF-specific rule concerns the puck on the net itself, which explains why play was not immediately blown dead when the puck deflected onto the netting itself with two seconds remaining in overtime: "When the puck is lodged in the outside netting of the goal net for more than three sec- onds or frozen against the goal net between opposing players, the Referee shall stop the play and face-off the puck" (IIHF Rule 481).

Had this game been played under NHL rules, the goal would have been allowed, as "the goal frame shall be considered in its proper position when at least a portion of the flexible peg(s) are still inside both the goal post and the hole in the ice. The flexible pegs could be bent, but as long at least a portion of the flexib;e peg(s) are still in the hole in the ice and the goal post, the goal frame shall be deemed to be in its proper position. The goal frame could be raised somewhat on one post (or both), but as long as the flexible pegs are still in contact with the holes in the ice and the goal posts, the goal frame shall not be deemed to be displaced" (NHL Rule 78.4).

International Rules also propelled Team USA through the shootout, allowing repeated use of successful winger T.J. Oshie, who ultimately scored the game-winner in the eighth round.

Wrap: United States vs. Russian Federation (XXII Olympic Winter Games Hockey), 2/15/14

Thursday, February 13, 2014

MLB Names PBUC's Justin Klemm Director of Instant Replay

MLB named PBUC's Justin Klemm Director of Instant Replay for the 2014 season as announced by MLB Senior VP of Baseball Operations Peter Woodfork. Klemm served as the Professional Baseball Umpire Corp.'s Executive Director since 2008 after being hired as a field evaluator and instructor in 2006. He is a graduate of the Jim Evans Academy of Professional Umpiring and a former minor league call-up umpire. Klemm also runs MiLB's The Umpire School.

Justim Klemm
In his present role as Director of Instant Replay, Klemm will manage the New York Replay Command Center at MLB HQ where his duties will include the supervision of umpires assigned to Replay, staffing umpire supervisors and coordinating, with MLBAM, instant replay procedural configurations at all 30 ballparks.

MLB also made the formal announcement that confirms UEFL's January news break concerning the hiring of seven minor league umpires to the full-time MLB staff.

To recap, the hired umpires include Jordan Baker, Lance Barrett, Cory Blaser, Mike Estabrook, Mike Muchlinski, David Rackley and DJ Reyburn.

MLB additionally confirmed two new crew chiefs for the 2014 season in Bill Miller and Jeff Nelson, who both have had extensive experience as acting crew chiefs throughout the recent course of their careers.

Source: MLB names Klemm director of instant replay (Major League Baseball)

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

UmpTalk Podcast Interview: Gil & Chris Discuss CCS/UEFL

CCS/UEFL's interview with UmpTalk Podcast is now available as an audio download or stream on the UmpTalk website. For this interview, UmpTalk's Chris Kamler and UEFL's Gil Imber sat down to talk about baseball's sabermetrics revolution (and how SABR relates to umpiring), the Umpire Ejection Fantasy League and umpire issues near and dear to our hearts—namely instant replay complications and fallacies, the truth about player/coach/fan rules knowledge and, most importantly, solid statistical evidence that confirms just how good professional umpires are at their jobs (spoiler: it's 99.5% accurate at the MLB level).

UmpTalk is an umpire-focused podcast whose website describes its mission as "supporting amateur, collegiate and professional umpires by providing advice from their peers." From training and commentary to podcasts featuring Major League, NCAA and all other levels of baseball, UmpTalk is a chance to discuss and listen to conversations about umpiring.

About UmpTalk Podcast host Chris Kamler: "Chris is a sports journalist and columnist for The Platte County Landmark. Chris has also been a baseball umpire for the past 25 years. He is a veteran of the Jim Evans Umpiring School and was a candidate in professional baseball.  He has won Umpire of the Year awards in several different leagues and has served as a scheduler and Umpire-In-Chief for 15 years.  Following a career-ending spinal injury, Chris’s focus now is on giving back to the umpires that trained him by passing along his experiences.  As the producer of several other podcasts and websites in Kansas City, Chris has experience in telling stories in an irreverent way."

Click here to visit and listen to UmpTalk's Episode #14: Gil Imber of Close Call Sports.