Their names are Marc Joannette, Dan O'Rourke, Jonny Murray and Matt MacPherson.
The NHL would like for us to pretend they don't exist, even after their failure to do their job decides a game of this magnitude.
Sorry, NHL. That's not how this works. Not when the stage is this big. Not when the stakes are this high.
Alex Pietrangelo said the on-ice officiating crew should lose sleep after they missed Timo Meier's illegal hand pass that set up teammate Erik Karlsson's game-winning goal in Wednesday night's Game 3 of the Western Conference Finals.
I liked Pat Maroon's suggestion, muttered in the hallway of an enraged Enterprise Center, much better.
They should be interviewed.
Makes sense, right?
Blues general manager Doug Armstrong commented on the missed call. Not to reporters. But his open palm to the closed door of the officials' dressing room was accompanied by a quote that cannot be printed here. Armstrong is the son of an NHL linesman, and that should offer some perspective on how bad of a mistake this crew made.
Armstrong could be held accountable for his actions. A fine could arrive. That's how life works in pro sports. You face the music. Unless, of course, you are an NHL official.
“What do you guys think?” Craig Berube snapped after the Blues lost to the league 5-4 in overtime.
“Did it appear (to be a hand pass)?” David Perron asked, annoyed. “It was."
“I guess there’s a different set of rules for two different teams,” Alex Pietrangelo said.
Everyone’s talking about it — except for the voices everyone most wants to hear from.
All across STLToday and in the pages of the Post-Dispatch, you can find coverage of Wednesday night’s horrible non-call. Here’s the gamer from Jim Thomas. Here’s the column from Benjamin Hochman. These pieces will answer all of your questions except the ones that can't be answered because the only men who can answer them don't talk after this kind of stuff happens. Focus on the crickets. They’re coming from the officials who ruined a great game.
How is it possible that in a game at this stage, a terrible non-call can occur, and the only men who had the power to make it right can wheel their suitcases out of the Enterprise Center, surrounded by security, in complete silence?
Armstrong could be in hot water. Berube faced the fire and tried to control his own during his post-game press conference. Both Sharks and Blues players faced questions in their respective dressing rooms after the controversial play. The Blues tried to walk that fine line that keeps them from getting fined. Sharks players tried to hide their smiles. All of this, and nothing – and I mean nothing – from the men who botched the non-call.
"They’re not trying to (rip off) anybody," Sharks forward Joe Pavelski said about the on-ice officials. "They really aren’t. They’re good guys. May not always seem that way, but tonight, we may have caught a break."
No one is saying these men are bad men. At least not here. But goodness, can't they speak for themselves?
You want answers? So did we.
You deserve them. We were here to ask them.
But answers are not coming, and that’s a shame the NHL needs to consider rethinking along with video replay rules that are apparently chiseled in stone by mouth-breathing Neanderthals.
After the game, NHL protocol allowed one pool reporter a brief question-and-answer with Kay Whitmore, the league's director for this series.
Wednesday night's pool reporter, Jeremy Rutherford of The Athletic, crowd-sourced his questions with press row. It was a good list. It didn't get us much, and that's no fault of Rutherford's.
“It’s a non-reviewable play," Whitmore said.
Yeah, we knew that.
But why didn't the men paid to see it get it right?
“What they told me?" Whitmore said. "It’s a non-reviewable play. You can read between the lines. You can figure out what you want. You watched the video. But it’s just non-reviewable. I know that sounds like a cop-out answer, but that’s the truth.”
You see, that's the problem. Whitmore was not on the ice. And he was protecting the men who were, the men who dressed behind a locked door before rushing out into the night.
Tell that to Pietrangelo, who had to answer why he iced the puck late in regulation, a play that helped set up the Sharks’ game-tying goal. Tell that to Alexander Steen, who was peppered again and again with questions about the controversial play despite his statement that he did not want to talk about it. Tell that to Berube, who was grinding his teeth into dust at his press conference as the non-call questions came in waves.
Yes, the league needs to change its replay system. And now that Wednesday's non-call has become a topic of national attention, it probably will be changed. That's how this league works. It fixes what blows up in its playoff beard.
But while we are discussing changes, here’s another one for the league to consider. It should put an on-ice official on the stage in the post-game press conference room if there is a consensus among the media covering the game that a play needs to be addressed. If the officials won’t agree, get new ones. It's not as if the current ones are irreplaceable. Clearly.
Look around, NHL. Your league is a laughingstock, from fans not being able to find games on TV, to the runaway narrative that the league is on the side of the Sharks, who sure seem to get more than their fair share of calls.
NHL fans deserved better answers Wednesday night. NHL officials on hand here were more worried about public reaction than getting things right. Answers were owed, and the best the NHL had to offer was the question-and-answer version of a shrug issued 45 minutes after the game ended.
No one wanted to say the on-ice crew blew it. So, the on-ice crew skated off in silence.
Hopefully some accountability will arrive when it comes time to pick the officiating for the Stanley Cup Finals.
Joannette, O'Rourke, Murray and MacPherson have no business being on that ice.