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Yes, the refs should have blown the Calvert play dead. But the rule book shouldn’t be changed. Here’s why



VANCOUVER, British Columbia – Lots of outrage, lots of hot takes, over the Matt Calvert incident from last night. If you missed it, here it is again:

My take on this one is: Yes, the refs should have blown the play dead, probably around the point where Elias Pettersson practically stopped play himself to want to go over to Calvert and offer aid. That was the point where it was like, “OK, he’s he’s down, he’s hurt here, there’s blood and even the opposing player is concerned.”

The play should have been blown dead. The puck struck Calvert’s head and there was blood. That should have been more than enough for the refs to use their discretionary power to stop the game.

From the rule book:

So, yeah, the refs blew that one – no pun intended. But I don’t think the rule book should be changed, to make it a mandatory thing that refs have to stop the game any time a player goes down and stays down.

Here’s why: Because you know darn well, at some point, someone would try to take advantage of that to try and fool people into stopping play when they might need a stop at the end of a game. Hockey players are honorable guys and aren’t known for faking anything. But don’t be naive; If it were made a mandatory rule, that play had to be stopped anytime a guy went down in a heap, some player or coach, at some point, would try to fake an injury to get the play stopped.

A team up by a goal in the final minute would only have to know: “If our guy blocks a shot, he can act like he just got shot, stay down, writhe around, we’ll get a whistle, get a faceoff, win the faceoff and hold on to win the game.”

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If you take the discretion away from the refs in situations like these, it’ll be a slippery slope. That’s what happened to soccer. Guys try to fake injuries all the time to get a whistle or a foul. After a while, it became like the Boy who Cried Wolf. You didn’t know whether a guy was really hurt or not.

Again, hockey players don’t like to fake anything. But if they think taking advantage of a new rule like that might win them a game, a playoff game or a Stanley Cup? Hell yes, there would be someone faking something eventually.

Then, there would be fresh outrage over that.

There was blood from Calvert’s head, in this situation. The refs should have blown the play dead. Maybe that should be the new rule:

“If blood is coming from the head or face, play shall be stopped, period.”

But let’s not turn the game into a nanny state. Let’s learn from this and adjust.

By the way, the Avs won’t give any update on Calvert until tomorrow.

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Adrian Dater - Kiss and Larry Bird fan. Writer with @Gambling and @Bookies, Avs Insider with 104.3 The Fan. Denver Post, SI, Bleacher Report alum, author of seven books.

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It is time to allow full face protection in the NHL. It would also help with some of the embellished high sticking penalties and speed up the game a little. The money saved on dental care could be used to increase players salaries.


This wouldn’t have helped Calvert – puck struck him in the ear hole

Luke Waggoner

They allow that now. You can wear whatever you want, over and above a visor. Since the rule change a few years ago, all new players must wear a visor, but there’s no rule (at least not that I’m aware of) that precludes a player from wearing a full mask.

Chris Shopneck

Anything above the shoulders they should blow it dead.

John Deere

Then fine/suspend divers. Require players miss five minutes of game time if they need a trainer to come out on the ice. Don’t compromise player safety because of what some NHLers might do on rare occasion. Don’t weaken necessary rules because of those who might take advantage. Penalize that as well.


I like the ideal of stopping the play no matter where on the ice when the injury is sustained above the shoulders.

Paul Friesen

I agree the rule should not be changed. Refs missed it

Chris DeMott

I like this take. It points to another trend of protecting the referees more than they are protecting the players. It was good that Mack and EJ spoke out as it is pretty clear that the league “nanny’s” the coaches pretty well regarding comments. I wonder about the possibility that the failed call was a consequence of having two referees on the ice? Perhaps their failure was not unlike two outfielders waiting for the other to catch a ball and letting it drop between them. I don’t remember this being a problem in the single referee days. Do you?

Annie Marie

This just reminds me of the 2013 playoffs when Greg Campbell of the Bruins was forced to finish a shift clearly in pain and stumbling around. Came out after that he had broken his leg during that. I think there should be a rule updated but if they are found to embellish (which is already a penalty and possible suspension) than they get a longer suspension especially if they cause a goal opportunity to quit. However, I’d rather not have players on any team have permanent brain or physical damage just because people want to keep “old school hockey”. Times… Read more »


Very bad call. No doubt about it. This is probably the kind of stuff, referees can actually get in trouble for, i.e. bad marks on their report card, reprimands or simply very bad publicity. I looked up the refs for that game: Garett Rank seems like a fairly young ref at 31 yo where as the Justin StPierre is a veteran of 12 years. I suppose refs hardly ever give statements of any kind, but sometimes an acknowledgment from the referees might be helpful.

Matt Briggle

I don’t think the rule needs to be changed, but rather that they need to empower the other refs on the ice to know they can overrule the in zone ref in a case like this. Here, if I remember correctly, the in zone ref was in the near (on tv) corner and was shielded from seeing much of the injury by the fact that he was looking at Calvert’s rear end. The linesman on the near side tho had a really good view of it and given that Vancouver had total control of the puck, he could have easily… Read more »

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