When it comes to the great goalie interference debate, Don Cherry is just as puzzled as the rest of us.
Thursday’s controversial goal review between the Winnipeg Jets and Vegas Golden Knights only made things more confusing, as officials opted not to overturn a goal that saw Golden Knights forward James Neal slash Jets goalie Connor Hellebuyck square in the mask during a skirmish in the crease.
Cherry discussed the play during his segment on Hockey Night in Canada.
“If you look, the referee is behind him, he didn’t see it,” said Cherry, who added that he didn’t think Neal’s slash was intentional, but still should’ve been penalized.
“I don’t think he meant to hit him,” Cherry explained. “The goalie’s behind, and Neal’s not that type of guy. I know [Dustin] Byfuglien would’ve killed him. He should’ve had a penalty.”
Neal didn’t get a penalty on the play, and the goal still counted following a lengthy coach’s challenge.
“The thing I don’t understand is … they went over and looked at it, you can see it because I’m watching the game, I didn’t see him break the stick until they showed it in replay, which is tough on the referees, I have to say, except they went and looked,” Cherry said.
Winnipeg’s captain, Blake Wheeler, was one of several Jets to speak out about the incident following the game, and he didn’t mince words.
“The explanation was that the puck was behind the goalie, which gives their player the right to break his stick over his head,” Wheeler told reporters. “There’s been an outcry with the league to try to get this right. We were told before the game that it was going to be a little bit cleaner and they weren’t going to be looking for goalie interference. First time I’ve seen a guy break his stick over the goalie’s head.
“Now it’s bad. It was bad before but now … c’mon. [Expletive] breaks his stick over his head, it’s not a goal. I don’t care where the puck is.”
— Winnipeg Jets (@NHLJets) February 2, 2018
So, what’s the solution?
“I don’t know. I’m a little confused, like the referees are, a little confused right now,” Cherry said. “They’ve got to get it straightened out.”