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Bettman stands by call on disallowed goal

NHL commissioner Gary Bettman, seen speaking a the Reuters Global Forum on December 1, told Quebec Premier Jean Charest last week that he's interested in seeing a franchise back in Quebec City.

BRENDAN MCDERMID/Brendan McDermid/Reuters

National Hockey League commissioner Gary Bettman said that his deputies made the correct call on Daniel Sedin's disallowed goal in Game 3 of the Vancouver-Los Angeles series, and accused Canadian reporters of searching for conspiracies.

The commissioner doubted that fans are confused about the rule regarding kicked-in goals, although even longtime hockey professionals such as Canucks head coach Alain Vigneault have said they are scratching their heads over the ruling in Game 3, and the rule itself.

"[If fans are confused]than we need to do a better job of explaining it," Bettman said Wednesday before Game 4 of the Western Conference playoff series. "The rule make sense. I'm not so sure the fans are confused. I think people are trying to make issues where there shouldn't be. But in the final analysis, we don't want players kicking at pucks. It's dangerous."

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Bettman also took issue with reporters who pointed out that NHL vice president of operations Mike Murphy is a former player and coach with the Kings. Murphy recently gave an interview with the team's website in which he said it would be "neat" if his former club won the its first Stanley Cup. Murphy was also an assistant coach with the Canucks.

"This whole tact of innuendo and both insulting and pure fantasy," Bettman said. "I would suggest that everybody move on."

Sedin was initially credited with a goal in the third period of Vancouver's eventual 5-3 loss to the Kings on Monday. But after a lengthy review by the league's hockey operations department in Toronto, the goal was disallowed.

Video clearly showed that the puck deflected off Sedin's skate, but there was no "distinct kicking motion," which is what most fans have come to understand as the standard for disallowing goals. In fact, the league circulated a DVD to teams before the playoffs showing what constituted good goals, and goals that would be waved off.

"This was something that was reviewed with the general managers," Bettman said. "Let's get one thing really straight: I have complete confidence in the integrity, professionalism and judgment of my hockey operations department. Period."

Early Tuesday morning, Murphy joined CBC's Hockey Night in Canada and explained that Sedin "twisted his toe" to redirect the puck into the net and suggested it was an intentional action.

"I think Mr. Murphy was trying to explain -- at 1 o'clock in the morning -- as best he could exactly what was going on," Bettman said. "And if he wasn't as articulate as, perhaps, those looking to parse his words would like, then so be it."

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The DVD outlines how the kick-in rule should be interpreted, including distinctions on where the puck is travelling from -- behind the net, in front of the goal -- before hitting a skate, and the angle at which it is travelling. All of those factors can lead to different rulings on goals that might look similar to the casual fan.

Vigneault said he has seen the DVD and still believes that Sedin's goal should have counted. The Canucks winger was stopping in front of the crease, while being pushed by a Kings defencemen, when a pass from behind the net hit his skate and got past goaltender Jonathan Quick.

Murphy's department took nearly seven minutes to arrive at a conclusion, which deadened the atmosphere at Staples Center, but Bettman said he would not put time constraints on reviews.

"When they do video replay, they want to make sure they get it right," he said. "It should take as long as it takes them to get it right. I'd rather that than say you've got a minute and 30 seconds and them get it wrong."

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About the Author
B.C. sports correspondent

Based in Vancouver, Matthew spearheads the Globe's sports coverage in B.C., and spends most of his time with the NHL Canucks and CFL Lions. He has worked for four dailies and TSN since graduating from Carleton University's School of Journalism a decade ago, and has covered the Olympic Games, Super Bowls, Grey Cups, the Stanley Cup playoffs and the NBA Finals. More

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