TORONTO – Colin Campbell feels the pain of the Pittsburgh Penguins.
The NHL’s senior executive vice-president of hockey operations acknowledged Thursday that linesman Tony Sericolo erred in not whistling the play dead prior to Danny Briere’s first goal in the opening game of the Penguins-Flyers series.
“There’s no other way to explain it but a missed call,” Campbell told The Canadian Press in an interview. “We’re as upset as Pittsburgh almost. It’s a mistake.”
Briere scored Philadelphia’s first goal on Wednesday night after being sent in on a breakaway by teammate Brayden Schenn. The long pass came immediately after a neutral zone turnover and replays showed that Briere was a couple feet offside.
The play started a big comeback for the Flyers, who erased a three-goal deficit and beat Pittsburgh 4-3 in overtime. However, the Penguins refused to use it as an excuse for their collapse.
“That’s not why we lost the game,” coach Dan Bylsma said immediately afterwards.
Added captain Sidney Crosby on Thursday: “It affected the game, but at the end of the day worrying about it or thinking about it is not going to change anything. It’s over.”
Campbell believes that Sericolo was in position to make the right call but failed to do so because of how quickly the play went from one end of the ice to the other. It appeared as though the linesman considered blowing the play dead just before indicating it was onside.
“It was a quick turnaround,” said Campbell. “You can see it was a quick 70-foot pass—the linesman was up with the play and then had to move quickly back and he saw it from the angle he saw it from.
“But still his job is to get the right call and he didn’t.”
Sericolo is a veteran linesman with more than 800 games of NHL experience dating back to October 1998. He was among 40 officials—20 referees and 20 linesmen—selected to be part of the pool for playoff assignments.
The blown call could affect how director of officiating Terry Gregson makes staffing decisions later in the post-season, according to Campbell.
“There’s always fallout,” he said. “The referees and the linesmen are judged on the work they do as far as how they advance in doing games. If mistakes are made, no matter how difficult they are, there’s got to be decisions made on who advances.”
A phone call to Gregson wasn’t returned.