The American Hockey League is pleased to announce video review.

Hold off on the bronx cheer.

Although the wheels had been in motion for some time to include the advanced puck surveillance in AHL arenas, certainly the publicity garnered from the now infamous inability to rewind game three’s overtime winner in the Calder Cup finals helped solidify the league’s fast forward thinking.

If you are blessed with shortness of memory, the Marlies were plummeted into a 3-0 series deficit after a fluke goal scored by Norfolk defenceman Mike Kostka. A puck sent into the Marlies zone from centre ice careened around the boards, deflected off a stanchion, took a funny hop and crossed the goal line.

It left the 8,084 in attendance in shock.

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The Toronto captain, Ryan Hamilton, stood at centre ice waiting for a replay to be shown on the scoreboard while head coach Dallas Eakins exited immediately for the dressing room.

The game had been scoreless up to that point, Ben Scrivens having played 69:09 of flawless hockey.

To make matters more complicated, further contemplation revealed the Norfolk team had a member of their forward unit off-side when the puck was shot. The correct interpretation of AHL rule 83.4 would have discounted the goal.

83.4 Disallowed Goal – If the puck is shot on goal during a delayed offside, the play shall be allowed to continue under the normal clearing-the-zone rules. Should the puck, as a result of this shot, enter the defending team’s goal, either directly or off the goalkeeper, a player or an official on the ice, the goal shall be disallowed as the original shot was off-side. The fact that the attacking team may have cleared the zone prior to the puck entering the goal has no bearing on this ruling.”

The AHL released a statement the following day regarding the goal and league president, Dave Andrews, joined Leafs TV’s Paul Hendrick during game four to discuss the introduction of video review in the upcoming season.

In all fairness to the extremely irregular circumstances which the goal was scored under, both Marlies head coach Dallas Eakins and several players accepted the error as being something that had likely never happened before nor would ever happen again. It was a fluke.

This would not have been the first time controversy helped spark change.

Prior to the NHL moving to the centralized war room in Toronto ahead of the 2002/03 season, John LeClair scored a doozie during the 2000 conference quarterfinals between Buffalo and Philadelphia. Standing puzzled was then Sabres netminder Dominek Hasek after the puck had found its way into the net on a near impossible angle.

Although video review (at the time conducted by an official in a suite high above the ice) substantiated the goal, a broadcast camera angle later showed the puck ripping the twine on the side of the net to gain entrance. With play having already resumed, the goal stood.

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Buffalo lost that game two playoff contest by a single goal.

Mistakes happen.

During the 2010/11 season as part of Jonas Gustavsson’s AHL conditioning stint, the Swedish monster was robbed of a shutout when a Rochester goal was upheld despite questionable contact with the goaltender. It’s certainly easy to pass judgement when I had the benefit of video playback.

Not that these incidents didn’t swing fortune in both directions.

On November 27th 2010, while Joffrey Lupul was being reintroduced to hockey with Syracuse after nearly a year away from the sport, the gritty winger was carried into the Marlies net as his line-mate scored. The referee ruled the net had been dislodged prior to the puck crossing the goal line, while video review would have proved otherwise. It would have been the go-ahead goal for the Crunch; instead Toronto notched the 2-1 winner with less than a minute left in the game.

It’s comforting to know how the AHL has moved forward. Inclusion of video review offers a big step in league development. For those watching from either their regular arena seat or from home it adds to the credibility of the league and the high level of talent it offers.

The correction may not bring back that game three Calder Cup overtime but it enforces the league’s spot as the NHL’s top development system as it evolves accordingly.

Rage Against the Machine said it best, “what better time than now?”


Following the conclusion of the AHL’s Board of Governors meetings in South Carolina, the league announced minor alignment changes to the AHL’s six divisions. The Abbotsford Heat will now play alongside Toronto, Hamilton, Cleveland (Lake Erie) and Rochester in the North Division. The Heat were an original member of the North before being moved to the West Division during 2011/12.

Grand Rapids have subsequently been moved into the Mid-West Division and Charlotte joins the newly renamed South Division (formerly the West Division).

The league also has adopted a hybrid icing rule on a trial basis until November 19th where the whistle will be blown if the defender is the first to reach the defensive zone face-off circle when retrieving an iced puck that has already crossed the red line (goal line / icing line).


Referee Marcus Vinnerborg announces his retirement from North American hockey after only two years with the NHL & AHL. Vinnerborg was the first ever non-American or Canadian official in the NHL. Toronto is familiar with the Swedish referee as he was one of the two employed for game three of the Calder Cup finals.

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