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(MIKE CASSESE)
(MIKE CASSESE)

Leafs' Wilson blasts controversial calls Add to ...

Never one to mince words, Leafs coach Ron Wilson expressed his displeasure over the officiating after he felt his team got the wrong end of several calls in Monday's 2-1 overtime loss to the Islanders.

The three calls in question were when officials disallowed Kris Versteeg's goal for playing the puck with a high stick in the second period, when John Tavares gloved a puck in the crease midway through the third and a goaltender interference call on Brett Lebda that setup Tavares's eventual overtime winner.

Wilson on the game's three controversial calls:

1. Kris Versteeg's goal called back

"It was ruled off [the height of]the cross bar. Because it wasn't [based on]shoulder height, it was above the crossbar. And so when you go through it frame by frame. And things happen. We obviously can go through it frame by frame. But I find it strange that a linesman behind the play made the call. You're not really sure if it was a high stick or not and it wasn't because the puck wasn't shoulder height.

"[The contact with his stick]was accidental because the shot was rebounded, but [the stick]wasn't over his shoulder. At this point, crying over spilt milk, there's nothing you can do."

2. John Tavares gloves puck in the crease

"What are you going to do? They ruled it no goal, but they forget or don't remember that his hand was on the puck."

3. Brett Lebda's penalty in overtime

"The call in overtime after clearly I thought they weren't going to call anything, and that was a marginal call, after you see [Nikolai]Kulemin get hauled down in the neutral zone off of a faceoff, what are you going to do at that point? Our guys never game up. They played really well."

And here's how Wilson opened his postgame press conference:

"I thought we played a very good game throughout the night. In some instances we didn't have any puck luck and a couple calls went completely against us."

The Versteeg issue is the most complicated one here, but essentially Wilson is arguing that Versteeg's stick made contact with the puck below his shoulders and then he played it into the net. It's not illegal to knock the puck down from above the crossbar and play it, only above one's shoulders. The height for being able to put a puck into the net, however, is crossbar high, and Wilson felt that was why the official made the incorrect ruling.

Here's the related NHL rulebook section on this.

The Leafs players, meanwhile, didn't offer much comment on the various calls, leaving it to their coach to speak out.

Kris Versteeg: "I don't know, you guys have got to see the replay. If they saw the play, then that's what happened."

Colby Armstrong: "I saw the ref call it a goal right off the bat so I was thinking I got one but obviously when they reviewed it, it didn't go across. You could see it didn't go across."

Brett Lebda: "I don't know, I'm not going to comment on it. That's pretty much all I've got to say about that. I mean I'm trying to cause just a little screen and you know what, I think I tipped it and it almost went in. That's just the way the game goes. Everything was a close call today, it was up and down, north and south and refs are doing the best they can and they're going to make mistakes like we do so you've just got to move on.

"It was a tough battled game and we were good to get one point out of it. We showed a lot of character coming back after maybe getting two goals called back, maybe not. A lot of character in this room to come back and get the point. We'll build on this."

Leafs netminder J-S Giguere summed up the players' thoughts by noting the referees have a difficult job to do.

"The referees are there to make the calls and I wouldn't want to be in their skates," he said. "It's a tough game, it's a fast game. When they go up in the video, there's nothing you can do - they're not idiots, they know what they're doing. If the puck doesn't go in, it doesn't go in."

 

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