NHL needs to reveal action in Goalgate

     The NHL said it will handle Goalgate internally, implying it will not announce how it disciplines a Pittsburgh TV station for its deplorable conduct last Thursday in a game between the Flyers and host Penguins.

     That would be a disservice to everyone who follows the NHL. The league needs to hand out a stiff penalty, do it swiftly _ and end all suspicion that something fishy is happening with its flawed replay system.

     Simply put, if the NHL doesn't have the trust of its fans, it is going to lose followers by the thousands.

     Some background: The Flyers' Simon Gagne appeared top score a shorthande goal in Pittsburgh last Thursday. But after FSN Pittsburgh sent replays to the NHL's replay gurus in Toronto, it was ruled that the evidence was inconclusive and that the goal did not count.

     A few minutes later, however, FSN showed a replay to its TV audience that showed the puck over the goal line. This replay was not sent to Toronto until after the "no goal" ruling.

    On Tuesday, FSN indefinitely suspended a member of its telecast staff, Lowell MacDonald Jr., for the withheld replay, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported.  He is the son of former Penguins player Lowell MacDonald.

     In a statement, FSN _  the local broadcasts rightsholder for the Penguins _ said, "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 has addressed this matter and has taken steps to ensure that such a failure does not occur again."

      The Flyers won the game, 7-4.

      The Penguins also issued a statement: "We fully support FSN Pittsburgh in its reaction to this issue. The integrity of the game is paramount."

    That's why this suspension is just window dressing. The NHL needs to send a message to TV rightsholders all around the league: Mess with the system, and you will be heavily fined and your team will also suffer consequences _ perhaps the loss of a draft pick?

     This is serious stuff, even if the NHL is apparently trying to cover it up. How else do you explain why, as of 11:45 Tuesday night, the league had never mentioned the controversial developments in any of its stories on nhl.com?