Saturday night exposed a very ugly rule within the NHL.
Colorado’s Matt Calvert took a slap shot to the head, and laid on the ice bleeding while the play continued on. Vancouver had possession of the play and continued on to score 10 seconds later, all while Calvert was laying on the ice clearly in distress.
This is honestly terrible pic.twitter.com/WUXN79tawo— DNVR Avalanche (@DNVR_Avalanche) November 17, 2019
The NHL rulebook states:
When a player is injured so that he cannot continue to play or go to his bench, the play shall not be stopped until the injured player’s team has secured control of the puck. If the player’s team is in control of the puck at the time of injury, play shall be stopped immediately unless his team is in a scoring position.
The rule should be modified so that referees can make a discretionary call in situations where a player requires immediate medical attention.
Teammate Erik Johnson was furious with the referees post-game when asked about the play.
Erik Johnson on the Matt Calvert incident: “It’s a fucking joke. You want to protect a guy? Guy’s got a family at home, he’s laying there bleeding out of his head and you don’t blow the whistle? It’s a complete joke. An absolute joke. They should be ashamed of themselves.” #Avs— Ryan S. Clark (@ryan_s_clark) November 17, 2019
Nathan MacKinnon, who scored the overtime winner for Colorado, was visibly rattled after as well. He added that the rule is a league issue, not necessarily the referee’s, and that he couldn’t imagine another sport letting incidents like this happen.
Nathan MacKinnon on the NHL rule that allowed play to continue while teammate Matt Calvert was laying down on the ice bleeding pic.twitter.com/bwXttX2Vh2— Brady Trettenero (@BradyTrett) November 17, 2019
MacKinnon added a comment about the possibility of players ‘faking’ an injury in a big time moment to draw a whistle.
“Matt Calvert is one of the toughest guys I’ve played with is not faking it, looking for a whistle. Nor anybody would. It happened twice in the last two weeks or whenever we played Nashville. It sucks. I don’t know how Calvy’s doing. I haven’t had a chance to see him.”
Avalanche head coach Jared Bednar told Ryan Clark of The Athletic that he agrees the play needs be blown dead in that moment.
“I think it’s a discretionary call to blow it dead, right?”
“That’s the second time in two weeks a guy takes a puck to the face and is bleeding all over the ice.— Colorado Avalanche (@Avalanche) November 17, 2019
Sometimes it’s a tough call to make, but in that situation, you should’ve blown it dead.” pic.twitter.com/KI1dJPnpvd
Columbus’ Zach Werenski also commented on the video circulating online, agreeing that the play needs to stop in a situation like this.
Has to be blown down. This play has to stop https://t.co/ig8WkmGT20— Zach Werenski (@ZachWerenski) November 17, 2019
Werenski added, “This is a tough spot for the refs based on the rule, it puts them in a tough position and I’m sure they don’t want to see anyone hurt on the ice. Have to find a way to make it more clear in situations like this.”
There’s been no medical update on Calvert’s condition as of Sunday morning.
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