Rand: NHL referee skirts the wrath of Chicago fans

  • Updated: May 31, 2013 - 12:39 AM

If Detroit had won Game 7 against Chicago, where would Stephen Walkom’s call have ranked among the all-time blown calls in sports history?


The Detroit Red Wings' Henrik Zetterberg, second from left, celebrates his third-period goal against the Chicago Blackhawks in Game 7 of Western Conference semifinals at the United Center in Chicago, Illinois, on Wednesday May 29, 2013. (Julian H. Gonzalez/Detroit Free Press/MCT)

Late in the third period of Wednesday’s Game 7 between the Red Wings and Blackhawks, NHL official Stephen Walkom called coincidental roughing penalties on Kyle Quincey and Brandon Saad — negating what would have been the go-ahead goal for Chicago. The call was nearly unanimously derided for multiple reasons. But because Chicago won in overtime, it will become a quickly buried footnote instead of a piece of historical infamy.

What we wondered is this: If Detroit had won the game, where would Walkom’s call have ranked among the all-time blown calls in sports history? Here is a brief attempt to put it into context IF the Red Wings would have won:

Two calls with greater impact

• Umpire Don Denkinger missed an out-safe call in the ninth inning of Game 6 of the 1985 World Series. The Cardinals led the series three games to two and were ahead 1-0 in the game at the time of the call. Buoyed by a baserunner they shouldn’t have had, the Royals scored twice to win and then clobbered a clearly flustered Cardinals squad 11-0 in Game 7 to win it all.

• Diego Maradona scored the first goal of Argentina’s 1986 World Cup quarterfinal against England on what is commonly referred to as the “Hand of God” goal. Maradona clearly punched a ball out of the air and into the goal — a handball violation — but the goal stood. Maradona scored again later in a 2-1 victory and Argentina went on to win the World Cup.

Two calls with less impact

• Replacement officials ruled Seahawks receiver Golden Tate came down with a TD reception on the final play against the Packers in a regular-season game in 2012 despite strong evidence that indicated it was an interception. Still, both teams went on to make the playoffs — making the call damaging but not completely debilitating.

• First base umpire Jim Joyce missed an out-safe call with two outs in the ninth inning, denying Tigers pitcher Armando Galarraga a perfect game. It was a bad call that impacted what would have been a great achievement, but Detroit still won the game.

Michael Rand

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  • Blackhawks defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson showed his displeasure after learning his potential game-winning goal was called back because of a whistle behind the play on Wednesday night in Chicago.

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