Earlier today on Backhand Shelf, Daniel Wagner highlighted the Los Angeles Kings game-winning goal from last night, in which Drew Doughty scored with less than a second remaining in the third period, giving LA the win, narrowly avoiding overtime. The only lil’ problem with it was that the clock mysteriously stopped for over a second as time ran down.

The options are then that A) the clock had a teeny-tiny malfunction, or B) the time keeper wanted to help out the home team as they swarmed the Columbus Blue Jackets’ net on a powerplay in the dying seconds.

Columbus GM Scott Howson took to the interwebs this morning and wrote a blog post with his thoughts on the matter, and I think it’s safe to say he’s leaning towards column B.

It is an amazing coincidence that with the Kings on a power play at STAPLES Center and with a mad scramble around our net in the dying seconds of the third period of a 2-2 hockey game that the clock stopped for at least one full second.  I can only think of two ways in which this would have happened. Either there was a deliberate stopping of the clock or the clock malfunctioned.”


In his blog, Howson talks about the NHL’s investigation (which has officially been launched), and why despite the fact that “We, the Blue Jackets, are in last place and it is likely not going to affect our place in the standings,” there are actually a good many reason why the investigation matters to Columbus, and to the League as a whole.

 It matters to our players, to our coaches, every person in our organization and our fans. In talking with our coaches and Craig Patrick, our players played with passion, tenacity, grit, determination and competitiveness after a rather embarrassing loss in San Jose the night before. This tremendous effort was put in without four of our top six defensemen (James Wisniewski, Nikita Nikitin, Marc Methot and Radek Martinek) and with Jeff Carter, Ryan Johansen, Mark Letestu and Kristian Huselius also out of the lineup. We will never know if we should have had one point or two points in the standings. What we do know is that we should not have had zero. Anyone who has competed at a high level of sports knows that when you put everything into a game, the result matters. And to have the result altered unfairly stings.

In addition, this result matters to every other team in the Western Conference that is competing with Los Angeles for a playoff spot. We will never know if the Kings would have got the extra point in overtime or shootout, but they may not have. This extra point in the standings could have an enormous impact both competitively and economically. What if the Kings make the playoffs by one point or gain home ice advantage by one point? We could be talking about a team not making the playoffs and missing out on millions of dollars in playoff gates. No one can ever convince me that this result does not matter.

Well said, Mr. Howson.

So, the NHL’s investigation is under way. They’re saying that regardless of what they find, the result will stand. I’m of the mind that, though it won’t matter, they should at least chuck Columbus a point. It won’t affect anything, and they clearly earned it.

Either way, Howson is spot on. That little glitch affected the standings going forward, so if they do find it was a person helping out the home team, there better be a new person in the timekeeper’s booth the next time the puck drops in the STAPLES Center

Comments (11)

  1. If in fact this was a LA employee subtly stopping the clock for a second, I would hope the NHL brings the hammer of god down on the team. Nothing short of losing their 1st would be acceptable.

    The worst part is, if the NHL were to allow the result to stand what message does it send to the rest of the league? You’re telling me that other rinks with potential playoff seeding or playoff spots on the line wouldn’t also look into “home ice advantages”?

    • It would be something to see if they League would discipline the Kings if they found something. Take the win away? I dunno what you’d do, but that guy (not saying he did it, btw) is a team employee…

      • I’m actually kind of amazed to find out that clock guys are team employees. Seems like the league would want league employees on the clocks to avoid exactly this sort of thing. As an LA fan, and just a fan of hockey in general, i really hope they don’t find anything more than a malfunction or technical issue. It would be a rather serious black eye for the team.

      • Ya, I can’t see taking a win away. Especially after the firm stance they have taken that the game is final.

        I’d assume it would have to be a fine or taking away assets like draft picks or something.

        The problem being then, once you define what the fine is how other teams react to it. If I am a team on verge of making playoffs (and the millions that follow) why not risk at $250,000 fine to sneak your team in.

        Hope it was a malfunction of the scoreboard. But who knows.

  2. Let us hope it WAS a malfunction.
    The other version would be too grim to contemplate as it sends a wrong message.
    Let’s have fair hockey!

  3. Happens all the time…
    in our men’s league games!

    • Yeah, except the other way around. We have a cold scorekeeper that just wants to go home will let the clock run on whistles if you’re not careful. Not saying I blame them.

  4. Give me a break! If the Kings wanted to cheat to win, they would have stopped the clock a long time ago. SO MANY TIMES this kind of call has no gone our way. Scott Howson’s franchise is a mess, he’s stuck with Mr. Miserable Jeff Carter, and he’s looking for places to blame his ineptitude. Cry me a river……go back to Columbus.

  5. How long ago would the Kings have stopped the clock? A minute, a day, a week? I don’t get your point, Meg. When this call has not gone your way -as you are a Kings fan- was there any ostensible evidence of a time warp in which valuable moments were created from nothing? Please bring evidence to bear before you answer.

  6. Timekeepers are employees of the NHL, as are all minor officials minus the PA Announcer. They are supervised and paid by the League. They have been for the past ten years or so. Prior to that, they were team-employed.

    This being said, the clock-stopping system is not related to the whistle, as it is in the NBA. It’s fully manual. The timekeeper is not immune from hearing a phantom whistle or having a nervous tweak on the remote.

  7. All the drama is based on the idea that timekeeping in hockey is an exercise in precision….it’s not, and it can’t possibly be.

    When does the clock start on a faceoff – when the referee releases the puck, or when it hits the ice? How much time elapses between that happening and the timekeeper pressing the button to start the clock running?

    Then there’s the last-minute-of-the-3rd “Check the replay for the clock on that whistle, we need to add 0.6 seconds back” foolishness. Meanwhile, you could probably total up 4 or 5 seconds worth of time that ticked away after all the stoppages in play throughout the period.

    Yes, it sucks that Columbus got hosed, and we should absolutely WANT the clock to be an exact measure of playing time. But, when we’re reminded that, in fact, it’s just an approximation, we should really stop short of insisting there’s some conspiracy at work.

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