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DGB Grab Bag: Blown Calls, Expansion Draft, and Wig Helmets

Sure the disallowed goal in Game 6 had an effect on the outcome of the Finals. But you can't just change the rules every time there is a bad call.
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Welcome to Sean McIndoe's weekly grab bag, where he writes on a variety of NHL topics. You can follow him on Twitter. Check out the Biscuits podcast with Sean and Dave Lozo as they discuss the events of the week.

Three stars of comedy

The third star: Nashville fans – Sunday night was a rough one, as they watched their team lose the Cup final. But they booed Gary Bettman, which means they're officially Real Hockey Fans™. And they also did this to Mike Milbury on live TV.

The second star: The tale of two Nick Backstroms – I warned you! I warned you all this would happen! I wrote about this situation years ago, and now it's come to pass. Once again I am right in my analysis.


The first star: This kid – Nobody seems quite sure who he is. Presumably, it's Matt Cullen's son. Maybe it's some other player's child. Or maybe it's just some random kid who hopped the glass and eluded security. Either way, spraying Gatorade at a celebrating player's butt will never not be funny.

Outrage of the week

The issue: The Penguins won the Stanley Cup thanks to a blown call in which a Predators goal was waved off because the referee had mistakenly whistled the play dead.

The outrage: This was a terrible call that may have ended up deciding this year's Stanley Cup. Is it justified: Absolutely. There's no defending the call. I'm sure referee Kevin Pollock feels terrible about it, and Predators players were surprisingly graceful after the game. But there's really no way to put a nice shine on this one. An obviously blown call at the absolute worst possible time had a major impact on a crucial game. It's bad.


Just because the missed call was a disaster does not mean it's a problem that we need to fix.

You can understand why "we need to fix this" was many fans' first reaction to seeing the play unfold. Surely, we can do something. We need to change the rule, or let the other officials overrule it, or open the play up to review. We can get it right. This can't be allowed to happen again.

But it can. And it should. And that sucks, but it's sports.

To be clear, this isn't an argument for the inherent beauty of human error or any of that sort of nonsense. Officials will always make mistakes, sure, but we should be doing everything we can to minimize them. A game without a single bad call is a good game. That should be the target.


But if hockey fans have learned anything over the last few years, it's that the law of unintended consequences is real and it can be a jerk. So every time we find ourselves talking about changing the rules to solve one problem, we should start by asking what new problems our fix might cause.

The obvious cautionary example here is the offside review. Matt Duchene scored a goal after going offside by five feet one February night in Colorado, and everyone freaked out. We need to fix this, we said. Let's install cameras at the blueline and start reviewing offsides. It cannot happen again.

Well, we know how that turned out. Now we have replay review, everyone hates it, and we're all wondering why we changed the rules because of a fluke play that rarely happens. Meanwhile, officials are calling fewer offsides because they know the replay booth can just undo their mistakes, so we get even more reviews than we ever thought we would.

Granted, plays like the missed goal we saw Sunday night are more common than flagrant offsides, although not by all that much. But just like offside, adding another layer to rules might change the game in ways you're not expecting.

Right now, when the whistle blows, the play is over. It has to be. But if you introduce any sort of doubt — replay review, other officials overruling the call, a chance for the referee to say "my bad" and undo the decision, etc. — then you're going to turn every save into a three-second war zone as players keep hacking away just in case that first whistle didn't really count.


Today, we teach kids to play through the whistle. Change the rules, and it would be play through the whistle and then keep going, because hey, you never know. You might say that's a change worth making if it prevents something like we saw on Sunday. But let's see how you feel when your team's goalie gets hurt because he has three guys trying to slash the puck out of his glove after every save.

Sometimes a blown call is just a blown call. You can be mad about it. You can complain, or boo, or swear, or throw your remote through your TV screen. You can hold a grudge for the rest of your fandom days. But sometimes, that's all you can do.

What you don't need to do is change the rules to try to fix it, or add new sections to the rulebook in the name of getting it right at all costs. Because as we've seen over the last few years, that can backfire badly, and make the game a lot worse instead of better.

Obscure former player of the week

With an expansion draft just five days away, today's obscure player is Mike Corrigan. He was a left winger who was taken in each of the first two expansion drafts in modern NHL history, by the Kings in 1967 and then again by the Canucks in 1970. He's also involved in one of my favorite Maple Leafs transactions of all-time, which we'll get to in a second.

Corrigan was 23 when the Kings took him, and it allowed him to break into the NHL for a few games over the next three years. But it was getting picked by the Canucks that really gave him his shot; he'd go on to have the most prolific career of any player Vancouver took. Granted, that bar wasn't very high, but Corrigan would go on to score 152 goals in an NHL career that spanned 10 seasons, peaking with a 37-goal campaign in 1972-73.


Now for that Leafs trivia. The 1967 expansion saw the league double in size, meaning each of the existing six teams had to surrender 20 players from their system to stock the newcomers. Each team started with a protected list, and then could add more players as the draft went on and they lost guys. The Maple Leafs owned Corrigan's rights, but didn't bother protecting him. He was eventually nabbed by the Kings in the 14th round, at which point the Leafs were allowed to add another name to their protected list.

Their choice: A 33-year-old journeyman defenseman who'd played a single NHL game over a decade ago, but was still pulling full-time duty for the AHL's Rochester Americans. The Leafs owned his rights, and with dozens of players either already lost or protected, they figured they might as well toss his name onto the pile.

So they did. Thanks to Mike Corrigan, the Toronto Maple Leafs used their 14th round protection spot in the 1967 draft on none other than Donald S. Cherry. He never did play for them, but I hear he later went into coaching and broadcasting.

Ottawa's Dion Phaneuf reportedly did not waive his no-movement clause. Photo by Marc DesRosiers-USA TODAY Sports

Be It Resolved

With the expansion draft coming a few days away, teams hoping to expose a player with a no-movement clause had to ask that player's permission this week. Predictably, some said no. That reportedly includes Ottawa's Dion Phaneuf, which has some Senators fans upset, since now the team might lose a player like Cody Ceci or Marc Methot.

As always, a player refusing to wave a no-movement or no-trade clause led to a debate over whether that players should be vilified for simply using an aspect of their contract that they negotiated. (The short answer: No, but fans cheer for teams and not contract clauses, so cut them some slack if a player's decision hurts the team's outlook.)


But it also led to something else: Another round of fans and media questioning whether teams should even be allowed to ask players to waive in the first place. Surely, some have argued, a team should just have to be honor those clauses, and that's the end of it.

But that's a bad idea, and not for the reason you might think. Making NMCs and NTCs permanent would be awful … for the players.

Imagine being a player who signs a multiyear contract with a team. You're making a big commitment, and you don't want to spend all those years constantly worrying that you could be traded the next day. So you negotiate a no-trade or no-movement clause. That's good.

Now imagine that clause is permanent, and can never be waived. That's bad, and here's why.

Let's say you're happy for the first year or two. But then the team hires a new coach, and for whatever reason he just doesn't like you. He cuts your ice time. You start thinking you might be better off with a fresh start somewhere else. Well, too bad, because you're stuck here. No trades allowed.

Or maybe you're a veteran chasing a last shot at a championship, but your team decides to rebuild. It would make sense for everyone if they moved you to a contender. But too bad, because you can't ever waive that clause.

Or you're a goalie, and you signed to be the starter, but some prospect shows up and sets the league on fire. You could still start for plenty of teams in this league. Nope, too bad. No trade for you.


Oh, you have a family member who gets sick and you'd rather be closer to home to help them through it? Too bad, you're stuck here no matter what.

You get the picture. Players don't ask for NTCs and NMCs because they don't want to switch teams, ever, under any circumstances. They do it because they want some control. Maybe that's picking a destination, and maybe it's refusing to move at all. It's the player's choice.

But it's not a choice unless the player has options, like the ability to waive their clause and go somewhere else. And that means that teams have to be able to ask the player to consider it. (And don't suggest that players could volunteer to waive but teams couldn't ask them to; there's no meaningful distinction between a team asking or just making it clear they want to make a move and then having everyone stare at the player until they respond.)

Be it resolved: Stop suggesting that players' NTCs become permanent. Nobody wants that. Least of all the players themselves.

Classic YouTube clip breakdown

We're just a few days away from the annual NHL Awards Show, which will take place on Wednesday. This year's edition will probably be the most newsworthy in history, since it will double as the unveiling of the Golden Knights' expansion draft selections.

That's all well and good, but it will only serve to overshadow what the awards are supposed to be about: cheesy comedy. So today, let's travel back two decades for a reminder of what the NHL can look like when it remembers its sense of humor — or at least tries to.


  • It's June 19, 1997, and the NHL is handing out its awards. That means viewers could expect to see plenty of Dominik Hasek, Ray Bourque and Mario Lemieux. They're also going to see lots of punchlines, because this was the golden age of the NHL Awards as an aspiring sketch comedy show.
  • This was the era that featured permanent host Ron MacLean at the height of his powers; 1996 had given us the classic "preseason predictions" sketch, so expectations were high. Let's see what they have in store this time.

  • We start off with Keith Primeau, who is definitely playing in a real hockey game where everyone wears plain colored uniforms and at least one guy has long pants. He stops mid-shift to chat up a girl who's hanging over the player's bench. You know, the way hockey players do.
  • "Get lost, helmet boy". We've all been there, Keith.
  • Our heroine informs Keith that she's into guys who get hit in the head with pucks. We cut to Keith's brother Wayne, who chirps him with a "She sure shot you down." At this point, the two brothers drop the gloves and fight each other.
  • They don't really do that. I mean, not here. They actually did it a few weeks before this was filmed, though. The NHL is a weird league.
  • What really happens is that our premise is revealed: Because NHL players now have to wear helmets, they can't impress the chicks anymore. But Wayne has a solution: The Wig Helmet.
  • Look, I didn't say it was a great premise.
  • We get a look at the three styles available: The Regular, the Guy Lafleur, and the Craig MacTavish. OK, on the one hand, that Lafleur joke is bang-on — note how the hairline doesn't start until halfway up the scalp. That's some strong attention to detail. But it's also a reference that's over six years old. It would be like using this year's show to take a shot at Mike Modano.
  • More important: Where's the Jagr joke? How do you do a "funny NHL haircuts" bit without Jagr, or any mullet-related humor at all for that matter? That's just unacceptable.
  • Our clip ends with Primeau successfully picking up the girl, closing the deal by smacking a puck on his helmet-wig. And yes, we can acknowledge that this whole thing becomes vaguely uncomfortable in hindsight when you know how Primeau's career ended.
  • That was… not all that good. Luckily, it wasn't all the show had in store for us. Who's up for some soup?


  • We don't have to wait for the premise here: It's NHL player names that sound like soup. Got it? Good, let's get to the names.
  • "Bourque and Beans". Look, that's a solid start, don't pretend like it's not.
  • It's an up-and-down field from there. My personal favorite is "Stew Grimson", but you could talk me into "Tukey Lumme" or even "Legion of Shroom".
  • By the way, let's take a moment to appreciate them blatantly stealing the Campbell's soup label, then changing it to "Canbells", depriving us of headlines like "Hockey pun soup lawsuit hears closing arguments".
  • What would be the go-to puns if you did this sketch today? Creamy Gudas Bisque? Italian Weber? Chicken Knuble? Rinnestrone? I may have spent too much time thinking about this. Maybe we should just move on.

  • Our last fake ad is for a table-top hockey game featuring Martin Brodeur and Ron Hextall, and it's great. I'm sorry, if the visual of those two goalies slamming face first into each other at center ice doesn't make you laugh just a little bit then you may be dead inside.
  • Also, full marks to the two kids for really selling the "Better pull your goalie" line. Lesser comedic actors would have backed away but these two go all-in.
  • So I do like this clip, and I hope you do too. But let's address the elephant in the room. This sketch aired in June 1997. And it's about a game where two goalies skate out to center ice.
  • I mean, how do you not drop a reference to this?
  • Seriously, guys, this isn't hard. You find out how much Patrick Roy wants to come out and film a scene where he punches both kids and flips over the table, then you double it, then you make it happen. I don't care if he says no and you need to CGI him in, you find a way.
  • I'm legitimately mad about this. Give me a second, OK?
  • Overall, 1997's three fake ads were reasonably well done. Solid concepts, reasonable execution. There may not be a Happy Fun Ball in the mix, but we'll take it. But none of them will stand as the funniest moment from that year's show, because that had already come in the cold open:

  • Ha ha, remember when the NHL had a terrible replay review rule that everyone hated but we all just made jokes about how stupid it was because we knew they'd never change it until it blew up in their face? Man, feels like it was just yesterday.

Have a question, suggestion, old YouTube clip, or anything else you'd like to see included in this column? Email Sean at .