NHL needs to be accountable for Pronger call

Chris Pronger reacts after being called for a penalty during overtime against the Flames. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

    Referee Ghislain Hebert has some ‘splainin’ to do, Lucy.
    So does the NHL.
    Hebert, in his first full season as an NHL referee, needs to be held accountable for the manner in which he made a call Friday, costing the Flyers a victory over visiting Calgary.
     But don’t hold your breath.
     Hebert ruled that the Flyers’ Chris Pronger waved his hand in front of Flames goalie Miikka Kiprusoff and gave him a two-minute unsportsmanlike conduct penalty. The call negated a Mike Richards overtime goal that would have given the Flyers a 3-2 win.
     Instead, the Flyers lost in a shoot-out, 3-2.
     Replays showed Pronger with his left arm raised and quickly brought down _ and no penalty called until three seconds later, after Richards’ shot went past Kiprusoff. When Richards took his shot, Pronger’s stick was down, with both hands clutching it.
     After the game, reporters tried to find out why the ref waited three seconds before calling the penalty.
     On Saturday, after my repeated calls and e-mails, the NHL issued a lame statement by Terry Gregson, the league’s senior VP and director of officiating:
     "The spirit and intent of the unsportsmanlike conduct rule is to keep an acceptable hockey decorum in the game, in this case when a player is screening,” Gregson said. “This type of act is outside the normal boundaries and needs to be controlled for the good of the game. 
     "This type of action _ fortunately for the game and for our officials _ has been a rare occurrence (and) it must be penalized when witnessed."
     Blah, blah, blah.
     I told the PR executive who sent the statements that I needed to talk to Gregson, needed to find out why the call was not made immediately. I also had other questions _ such as why the NHL does not make it mandatory for a referee to explain a controversial decision, and if the fact Pronger had his back to the goalie would have affected the call.
     I was told Gregson was traveling.
     Several hours earlier, I gave the NHL my cell number and asked Gregson to call me.
     He never did.
    Draw your own conclusions.

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