St. Louis not ready to cut the NHL, refs any slack over blown call

ST. LOUIS - About 24 hours after the big missed call that saw NHL officials gave the San Jose Sharks a 2-1 series lead over the Blues in the Western Conference Playoff Finals, it still felt like it just happened for Blues fans.

From the ice rinks to the radio airwaves to social media, St. Louis was not ready to cut those refs and the NHL any slack. An illegal hand pass led to the game-winning goal for the Sharks. After huddling to discuss the play, the referees allowed the overtime goal – game over.

Even the people you’d least expect were chiming in on the 101 ESPN radio show “The Turn” about one of the worst no-calls ever.

“I’m a Blackhawks fan and I actually feel sorry for the St. Louis Blues. This is ridiculous. Come on, get it right, NHL!” shouted the caller.

“On a scale of 1 to 10m (the missed call) was a 10,” said show host Anthony Stalter. “If this winds up being something the thing that costs the Blues an opportunity to go to the Stanley Cup, it’s going to be something that St. Louis sports fans will never forget.”

“When a guy swats at it like he’s pushing flies away and the puck goes to the front of the net, to me, there’s no excuse,” said Stalter’s co-host, former Blues defenseman Jamie River. “It has to be called.”

Second-grader Emma Gross said even she saw what the officials somehow missed.

“It just doesn’t make sense because there’s four refs," she said. "I don’t see why they couldn’t see that."

“It’s a really hard sport to officiate but with four sets of eyes out there and such a crucial part of the game, you would think they would have dealt with it in the offseason and it would be a reviewable play,” said Dave Garth, who coached hockey at Webster Groves High School for 35 years.

Gerth suggested the NHL adopt video review of all scoring plays, going back 30 seconds prior to the goal, to catch things like missed offsides calls and, of course, illegal hand passes.

Chesterfield police mockingly tweeted they’d found a phone with a missed call on it, with the initials NHL, #handpass.

The St. Louis Eye Institute posted a free LASIK eye surgery offer on Facebook for the four officials.

Like the Blues, their fans bounced back.

12-year-old hockey player Chris Schaub, a sixth-grader, said, “I think we still got life.”

It’s just hard to turn the page when something turns your stomach.

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