While addressing the media on Thursday during locker room clean-out day, Vegas Golden Knights general manager George McPhee said the NHL reached out to him to issue an apology for the officiating in Game 7.
“The league did reach out and apologize,” said McPhee. “They made a mistake and I’m sure [the referees] feel bad about it. They want to get things right like we all do when we’re doing our jobs.”
Despite the league’s apology, though, McPhee showed no signs of bitterness while addressing the media and instead seemed eager to move forward.
“There will be no pity parties,” said McPhee. “Stuff happens in games. We’re going to take the rearview mirror out and put a real good team on the ice next year. We’re not going to carry around a big suitcase full of yesterdays.”
The Golden Knights had a 3-0 lead in Game 7 before Cody Eakin’s cross-check on captain Joe Pavelski led a to a five-minute major and game misconduct for the Vegas center. San Jose scored four power-play goals, won the game 5-4 in overtime, and you know the rest of the story by now.
While McPhee is unsurprisingly saying all the right things about this situation, the league’s apology is somewhat bittersweet. On one hand, it does not do anything to change the end result of Game 7. The Golden Knights are still out of the playoffs. While on the other hand, the Golden Knights and their fan base do have to at least feel some sense of vindication with the NHL admitting the call was incorrect.
Golden Knights owner Bill Foley was the one who received the call from the league. Without going into names, he said it was as senior of an official as you can get in the NHL that reached out.
Foley said he would like to see major penalties be reviewable by a coach’s challenge, especially in the third period and especially in the playoffs. He added he is spearheading that effort and will present it at the upcoming board of governor’s meeting.
“That’s going to be up to the league to make that determination,” Foley said. I believe the league is thinking about it and is going to be receptive to that change.”
“[The league said] ‘It was a bad call, it was a mistake, we recognize the mistake and we acknowledge it,’” Foley said. “I did feel a little better after that.”
Regardless of which outlook you have on this topic, it is nice to see the NHL at least owning up to the mistake. On top of the apology, the league is also not allowing the officiating crew in Game 7 to work another game this postseason, according to Scouting the Refs.
It will always be a tough pill for Vegas fans to swallow, and, quite frankly, some fans will probably never get over the call. But at least we can all now indisputably say it was the wrong call.