NHL: Ryane Clowe’s illegal reach from bench was ‘a missed call’

Ryane Clowe’s memory magically regenerated on Friday and allowed the San Jose Sharks forward to remember his illegal reach over the boards to interfere with the play late in his team’s eventual 6-5 shootout victory over the Kings on Thursday. The incident was described by NHL executives on Friday as an oversight of what should have been a minor interference penalty and said there will not be any punitive action against Clowe.

The Kings and Sharks were tied late in the third period when Clowe reached over the boards with his stick and nudged the puck enough so that Kings center Jarret Stoll overskated it. Although fans in the sellout crowd at Staples Center immediately began pointing at the ice along with Kings players, action continued without a penalty call from referees Stephen Walkom and Brian Pochmara.

“If the officials had seen the actions of Ryane Clowe it would have definitely been a two-minute interference penalty,” Colin Campbell, the NHL’s senior vice president for hockey operations, told The Times on Friday. “It was obviously a missed call.”

Another league official said earlier Friday that the applicable rule was 56.2. That rule states: “A minor penalty shall be imposed on any identifiable player on the players’ bench or penalty bench who, by means of his stick or his body, interferes with the movements of the puck or any opponent on the ice during the progress of the play. In addition, should a player about to come onto the ice, play the puck while one or both skates are still on the players’ or penalty bench, a minor penalty for interference shall be assessed.”

So while Clowe’s ethics can and should be debated, there’s no room for an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty, suspension or any of the more drastic punishments Kings fans have been suggesting.

A penalty there would have given the Kings a five-on-three manpower advantage. Stoll later said the officials told him they didn’t see Clowe’s action, and Clowe told reporters afterward, “I have no idea what you guys are talking about. I’ll have to see the video or something.”

Clowe ‘fessed up on Friday, telling the San Jose Mercury News he had “a brain cramp” and added, “I was lucky it didn’t cost the team.”

After the Kings practiced in preparation for Saturday’s return match at San Jose, defenseman Rob Scuderi was able to joke about it with Times colleague Lisa Dillman. Sort of.

“It was pretty effective,” Scuderi said of Clowe’s move. “I’m thinking about using it myself.”

Rob Shick, a former NHL referee and now an officiating manager, cited the speed of the game and the need for on-ice officials to pay attention to so many areas as a possible reason they missed Clowe’s action.

“Plays like that happen really quick,” said Shick, a Southern California resident who was working at the game. “We have the benefit of watching it on replay and in slow motion. The officials see it once in real time with a lot of other things going on all over the ice.

“The bottom line is it is a missed minor penalty call.”


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NHL: Clowe’s illegal reach from bench was ‘a missed call’