Technology can make the game of hockey better. Some will point to innovations in skates and sticks as reasons why players can skate faster and shoot harder today. There's probably some truth to this as we always hear players talking about the "pop" that composite sticks have. However, if there is one place that technology has allowed the common fan to benefit, it is instant replay.
Instant replay is used everywhere, but it was actually a Hockey Night In Canada innovation. Long before we had thousands of camera angles, each with their own individual replay options, HNIC was the innovator who brought this concept to television broadcasts despite having no authorization to use this technology on-air.
Today, the NHL requires that all video feeds of every single NHL game be filtered back through the War Room where former NHLer Kris King and his team of watchers can review each frame of hockey. Disputed calls are nothing new to the NHL, so having the team in Toronto playing "Big Brother" seems like a logical step when one goal can mean so much in the course of an NHL season.
Where this story picks up is that the NHL decided to investigate FSN Pittsburgh after it was reported that not every feed was redirected to the War Room during Philadelphia's manhandling of the Pittsburgh Penguins last Thursday. With the Flyers leading 5-3, Simon Gagne tucked home a rebound off the end boards on Brent Johnson, and it appeared the the Flyers took a 6-3 lead.
Or so it appeared.
Frank Seravalli of Philadelphia Daily News decided to ask that very question to the NHL, and NHL spokesman Gary Meagher said that an investigation was being made. The reason? "FSN Pittsburgh, who had the game’s only video feed, sent all of the camera angles of the replay except the one that clearly showed the puck over the goal line".
Today, we found out that FSN producer Lowell MacDonald, Jr. was suspended indefinitely by FSN Pittsburgh as a result of the station's internal investigation into this matter.
"There is nothing more important than the integrity of the game. During last Thursday’s game against the Philadelphia Flyers, a definitive replay of a Flyers goal was not aired prior to the conclusion of the official review and, as a result, a Flyers goal was not awarded. Fortunately, this did not change the outcome of the game. Nonetheless, FSN Pittsburgh’s failure to provide video to the league officials in a timely fashion was wholly unacceptable," FSN Pittsburgh said in a statement.
The Penguins are supporting FSN's actions in suspending Mr. MacDonald, so you would have to think that this will be the end of the investigation by the NHL as well. Still, there is almost a guarantee in FSN's statement that there will be a little more prudence in ensuring that all clips are forwarded to Toronto now, and that the producers of FSN's Penguins broadcasts will be under the gun. Gaffes like this not only make the NHL look bad, but now make the station look bad after the details are revealed.
No one that I know likes egg on their face. I doubt that something like this will soon be forgotten.
Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!