Originally posted on Fox Sports Ohio  |  Last updated 2/2/12
The Columbus Blue Jackets got the shaft Wednesday night. This might not be a big deal when referring to hockey sticks, but it matters when it comes to a last-second goal that eliminated overtime against the Los Angeles Kings. It matters a lot. Blue Jackets general manager Scott Howson appropriately pointed this out in a Thursday blog post that was later removed from the team's website. "Anyone who has competed at a high level of sports knows that when you put everything into a game, the result matters," Howson wrote. "And to have the result altered unfairly stings." The situation: The game was tied 2-2 in the final seconds, with the Kings swarming the Blue Jackets goal on a power play. Drew Doughty scored with four-tenths of a second left. However, replays showed the clock did not move during play for about one full second with 1.8 seconds left, a stoppage that Howson noticed and brought to the league's attention. NHL vice president Colin Campbell told Howson that the league would investigate. Kings president Dean Lombardi had an interesting -- yes, that's the word -- explanation for the clock situation. In an email to the Los Angeles Times, Lombardi wrote: "Those clocks are sophisticated instruments that calculate time by measuring electrical charges called coulombs -- given the rapidity and volume of electrons that move through the measuring device the calibrator must adjust at certain points which was the delay you see. The delay is just recalibrating for the clock moving too quickly during the 1010ths of a second before the delay. This insures that the actual playing time during a period is exactly 20 minutes. "That is not an opinion -- that is science -- amazing device quite frankly." Quite frankly. For those who do not know, a coulomb is named after a fine gentleman named Charles de Coulomb, who lived from 1736-1806 (according to dictionary.com). It is the amount of electricity conveyed in one second by a current of one amp. Evidently it has something to do with the time shown on the clock syncing with the internal computer that runs the clock. Or something like that. A member of the Kings communications staff confirmed that Lombardi send that email. Though impressively scientific, this does not eliminate Howson's legitimate concerns. The clock malfunction seems improper, and it matters. It won't matter to the Blue Jackets, who are 13-32-6 this season. But it might matter to the Kings and the Western Conference playoffs, where a point or two can make a difference in playoff seeding, home ice and, in the most extreme, who makes the playoffs. "We will never know if the Kings would have got the extra point in overtime or shootout, but they may not have," Howson wrote. "This extra point in the standings could have an enormous impact both competitively and economically. What if the Kings make the playoffs by one point or gain home ice advantage by one point? We could be talking about a team not making the playoffs and missing out on millions of dollars in playoff gates. "No one can ever convince me that this result does not matter." During the day Thursday, Howson asked that the blog post be removed, thinking that some of the wording was a little too pointed. Reasonable. But in this age, once something is posted and reposted, it's tough to eradicate completely. There also were valid and good points in the blog. It also is valid to say if the Blue Jackets really wanted to avoid the controversy they would not have let Los Angeles score. That would have erased any and all discussion. But this still leaves an odd feeling. The NHL can't change the outcome of a game -- league rules -- but it can do some digging to find out what happened. And it might come to an answer nobody likes: Even in the most perfect of systems, human error happens. Fans and media who cry for replay constantly ignore the fact that things won't always be 100 percent correct because humans operate cameras, machines and clocks. Even in the most perfect of systems, perfection is unattainable. The question is whether someone in Los Angeles willfully stopped the clock. If so, he or she should be held accountable. "We anxiously await the results of the NHL's investigation," Howson wrote. Doesn't everyone.
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