Last night the Los Angeles Kings defeated the Columbus Blue Jackets 3-2 on a last-second goal. In fact, the goal was scored with less than a second left in the game.
However, after the game replays showed that he clock actually stopped for roughly a second, just before Drew Doughty scored the game-winner for the Kings. The impact that this has on the last place Blue Jackets isn’t significant as far as the standings go, because it is fairly obvious that they will not be making a playoff run. However it still doesn’t feel right to have any team potentially robbed of a shot at victory.
Kings GM Dean Lombardi feels that there is a logicical explanation to what transpired at the end of the game. In an email to ESPN, Lombardi explained
“Those clocks are sophisticated instruments that calculate time by measuring electrical charges called coulombs — given the rapidity and volume of electrons that move through the measuring device the calibrator must adjust at certain points which was the delay you see — the delay is just recalibrating for the clock moving too quickly during the 10 – 10ths of a second before the delay — this insures that the actual playing time during a period is exactly 20 minutes That is not an opinion — that is science — amazing devise quite frankly.”
Not only is that an odd explanation, it doesn’t actually make sense that this is the way the clock operates for the Kings. What’s wrong with an actual clock, you know, like what the rest of the world uses? Is it that it makes too much sense? I’ve never seen any other clock do that in a professional sports environment. They stop when the play is called dead, not at any other time. Because that’s the way the rules of the game are.
I don’t pretend to know the extent of what made the clock stop, and for all I know, the explanation given by Lombardi may actually be the truth, and those clocks may be the most efficent and accurate clocks available. But it smells awfully fishy.
If the NHL somehow finds in some investigation that the Kings’ clock stopped illegally, there’s still nothing to do about it. You cannot possibly punish the team, points cannot be taken off the board in a game that is complete. It wouldn’t make sense to try to punish them in any other way, unless this is something that becomes a recurring problem, and even then the solution would likely be simply to have the entire system in the arena replaced.
For now, it doesn’t seem like this has a direct effect on the Predators. It’s just one measly point. But as the season winds down, every point becomes significant, and any advantage that any competitor in the conference can have (even illegal advantages) becomes paramount. I will be extremely pissed off if this ends up costing Nashville a spot in the standings at the end of the season.
Also, for all we know, the Kings may have won anyway in overtime or a shootout. They have a very good team, and do not need the extra help of cheating with the clock. They should have beat the Blue Jackets, even in overtime. But what if they didn’t? What if the clock malfunctioned, the shot shouldn’t have counted, and the Blue Jackets got the win in overtime? And then what if the Kings make the playoffs by one point? What if they end the season only one point of one or more teams, altering the seeding of teams hoping for optimal playoff matchups?
It’s hard to say right now. Hopefully it will not ever come to that. But if it does, just remember, the Kings may have stolen an extra point in the standings. And there’s nothing anyone can do about it.