I keep hearing about how four sets of eyes missed the Torres check last night, but this is a misstatement. Two sets of eyes missed the play, and two had no influence on it. Like it or not, the job of the linesman is to call the lines, not penalties like this.
Coming out of the lockout, the director of officiating at the time, Stephen Walkom, and the league told the linesmen to stick to calling the lines, and a few other penalties, like too many men on the ice. They can stop the play for a premature substitution (like a skater getting on the ice before the goalie is off the ice), or consult on the delay of game puck over the glass, but other than that, they don’t have a voice on these penalties.
Part of this is because of the increased speed of the game. You have to get the lines right, or else you have situations like the Briere goal in game one of the Penguins – Flyers game. And yes, they don’t always get it right, but they are not being pulled away from the lines by other things that the refs are supposed to be covering. To err is human, but to be doing someone else’s job is unprofessional. The linesmen have their job, so they do it.
You may not like it, and I understand that. I mostly of like it, but in situations like this, some consultation would be helpful. The linesman next to the Torres hit saw it, and was protecting himself from getting blown into (although he doesn’t seem to be looking right at the hit, like the snapshot from the video above shows). It would have been good if he could have gotten the ref to call the penalty. I’m sure they discussed what had happened while Hossa was being attended to.
But a ref can’t call a penalty that they didn’t see with their own two eyes. They can’t have someone else’s judgement be their influencing factor on this stuff. So the questions are, where were the refs? Were they in the right position? Were they too far away from the play? The speed of playoff hockey and the way turnovers in the neutral zone have been happening and transitioning may have pushed the refs further back into the ends of the rink than they want to – or should – be. So where were they? If I could zoom an image of the rink out to see where they were, I would be able to say if they had the best shot at making the right call.
But just so you know, don’t blame the linesmen. They have their duties. The league asked them to stick to those duties. They are doing their job. As for the other two guys, it’s hard to say. They certainly missed this one.