Coach’s Corner: Cherry says refs shouldn’t apologize for hand-pass gaffe

Don Cherry talked about the referees missing a hand pass for the Sharks’ OT winner and why it’s important not to ice the puck late in a game.

If you hadn’t yet heard, there was a botched call during Game 3 of the Sharks-Blues Western Conference Final series Wednesday that led directly to San Jose’s overtime goal.

Well, you only needed to briefly glance at Thursday’s edition of Coach’s Corner to realize Don Cherry, adorned in zebra stripes, was standing in solidarity with the officials.

“You and I see and the crowd sees it,” Cherry said of the now-infamous hand pass that went unnoticed. “These guys are on the ice and they do not know [there was a hand pass]. … The worst seats in the [arena] are on the ice. I hope they don’t apologize. Please don’t apologize. You’re the referees. You made the mistake, live with it, don’t apologize.”

It’s easy for fans, players, coaches, managers and pundits to direct their displeasure towards the officials, but referees and linesmen are human. Mistakes happen. The real problem – and the most frustrating part of all of this – is that there was nothing in the rulebook that would have allowed the officials to overturn a call they immediately realized they had gotten incorrect.

NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly described the situation as “an unfortunate miss by our on-ice officials.”

Cherry, like many others have, suggested the war room in Toronto should be able to contact the on-ice officials immediately to reverse calls just like the game-altering one we witnessed Wednesday.

“I had my run-ins with the referees many times but they are in charge. Never apologize if you make a mistake, but they should have communication. They’ve got these guys in Toronto sitting there with 50,000 TVs, they’re doing nothing. If they could tell these guys ‘hand pass, hand pass, hand pass’ [it would help].”

Cherry also pointed out that earlier in the game Blues forward David Perron should have been penalized for shooting the puck over the glass but that went unnoticed as well. Of course, the difference between that play and the hand pass was that only one led directly to a goal.

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