"He couldn't get through," Devorski said of Messier after the game, which the Coyotes lost 4-2. "We have no idea what happened. Messier said he dialed three times. Once the puck is dropped, we can't [reverse the call]."
Two days later in Calgary, Flames center Marc Savard slipped the puck between the pads of Sharks goalie Evgeni Nabokov, and defenseman Brad Stuart reached at least a foot beyond the goal line to pull it out of the net with his hand. (The goal light illuminated.) Stuart's sleight of hand was visible on an overhead TV replay shown within five minutes, but that angle wasn't available to the video judge. The goal, which would have tied the game 1-1, wasn't counted. The Flames went on to lose 4-1.
The NHL has long been aware of the replay system's inadequacies, and two modifications to the video review protocol were enacted at the G.M.'s meetings last month. Beginning next season, all arenas will not only be required to have a dedicated phone line connecting the video judge to the off-ice officials, but will also have it equipped with a light that will illuminate when the phone rings.
That change would have remedied the problem in Boston, but fixing errors like the one made in Calgary will require making every television camera angle available to video judges—a solution that's still some time away because of the vagaries of television and video technology.
Nashville Playoff Guarantee
It's Wait 'Til Next Year
Since joining the NHL in 1998-99, the Predators have maintained that they'd be a playoff team within five seasons. Nashville, which stood at 26-34-11-0 and in 13th place in the West as of Sunday, will soon be 0 for 4. Nonetheless, next season owner Craig Leipold will be putting his money where his mouth is. For the first time the Predators will be raising season-ticket prices (6% across the board), but they will refund the increase if they don't play in the postseason. Despite the guarantee, which could cost Nashville $1 million if it falls short, the Predators' plan of building with youth won't change. "It's a slow process, sometimes painfully slow" says G.M. David Poile, "but we're not looking for a quick fix. That philosophy has been explained to and approved by ownership."
Poile showed his sincerity recently by trading center Cliff Ronning, 36, Nashville's career scoring leader, to the Kings, and winger Tom Fitzgerald, 33, the only captain the Predators had ever had, to the Blackhawks. In return Nashville received two 2003 draft picks and Los Angeles defenseman Jere Karalahti, 27.
"Those guys helped get hockey started in Nashville," says Poile, "but with all due respect, we weren't in the playoffs and they only have a limited time left in the league because of their age. We have created opportunities for our younger players to replace them."