Human error, and not a technical glitch, has been deemed the cause of a game-clock delay that allowed the Los Angeles Kings to score a bad goal in the dying seconds of their Feb. 1 home game versus the Columbus Blue Jackets.
Although time would have expired had the clock not paused at 1.8 seconds, Drew Doughty’s power-play goal counted, and the Kings — a team that would eventually clinch the eighth seed and go on to win the Stanley Cup — stole a 3-2 regulation victory and a valuable two points in the standings.
The officials in charge of the game clock at Staples Center that night worked for the NHL and not the Kings. It was later pointed out that the Kings’ game clock had delayed before, in the final 10 seconds of L.A.’s Jan. 21 home game versus the Colorado Avalanche.
Kings general manager Dean Lombardi suggested at the time the delay was caused by an internal electrical charge serving to recalibrate the device. That charge, he said, would help ensure that each period would consist of precisely 20 minutes.
The Blue Jackets protested, and senior executive vice-president of hockey operations Colin Campbell acknowledged there was an error and that the goal should not have counted. He said the league was investigating the incident.
On Thursday, nearly six months after the incident, in an email to the National Post, NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly said that investigation has placed the blame for the game clock delay on “human error.”
The Post interviewed Peter Hurzeler, a timing official working his 16th Olympics, on Thursday. Hurzeler, a mechanical engineer by training, offered his insight to the paper.
“It’s manual — the clock doesn’t know when it has to stop,” Hurzeler said. “(They) did a good job for the home team.”
Although the Kings finished the season five points ahead of the ninth-place Calgary Flames to secure the final playoff spot in the West, the clock malfunction stirred significant controversy at the time.
Watch the controversial goal: