A series-defining call, or mistake in the minds of many, has lit a fire underneath the owner of the NHL’s newest team. Vegas Golden Knights owner Bill Foley has already begun lobbying the league to make all major penalty calls reviewable after a controversial major ended up costing his team in the first round.
With a 3-0 lead over the San Jose Sharks in the third period of Game Seven, Vegas center Cody Eakin was issued a five-minute major and game misconduct for cross-checking Sharks counterpart Joe Pavelski, who fell awkwardly to the ice, had to leave the game, and remains sidelined for San Jose. Over the course of that five-minute penalty, the Sharks scored four times and ultimately won in overtime to eliminate the Golden Knights. The penalty was a blatant cross-check and worthy of a two-minute minor, but it’s hard to argue that a major was the right call. In fact, the NHL has reportedly apologized to the club for the call.
While Knights GM George McPhee said that he and the team would not dwell on the call, he apparently wasn’t speaking for his owner. In a press conference on Thursday, Foley informed the media that he believed a major penalty should be reviewable via coach’s challenge. It is unlikely that this was a passion project of the owner prior to his team’s controversial elimination, but it certainly is now. Foley stated that he has already spoken with league officials and fellow owners about the issue and expects it to be a topic of conversation at the summer Board of Governors meeting.
Foley insisted that if a major penalty review process had been in place, the call on Eakin would have been overturned and the Golden Knights would have won the game and advanced to the next round. However, the owner is only focusing on one part of the problem. Bad calls happen, but if your team cannot allow less than four goals over one five-minute penalty, it would seem that the penalty kill is a bigger issue than the league’s policies and procedures.