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Avs' Johnson blasts refs over Calvert head injury: 'It's a f--king joke'

Ailish Forfar
NHL Editor

Saturday night exposed a very ugly rule within the NHL.

Colorado’s Matt Calvert took a slap shot to the head, and laid on the ice bleeding while the play continued on. Vancouver had possession of the play and continued on to score 10 seconds later, all while Calvert was laying on the ice clearly in distress.

The NHL rulebook states:

When a player is injured so that he cannot continue to play or go to his bench, the play shall not be stopped until the injured player’s team has secured control of the puck. If the player’s team is in control of the puck at the time of injury, play shall be stopped immediately unless his team is in a scoring position.

The rule should be modified so that referees can make a discretionary call in situations where a player requires immediate medical attention.

Teammate Erik Johnson was furious with the referees post-game when asked about the play.

Nathan MacKinnon, who scored the overtime winner for Colorado, was visibly rattled after as well. He added that the rule is a league issue, not necessarily the referee’s, and that he couldn’t imagine another sport letting incidents like this happen.

MacKinnon added a comment about the possibility of players ‘faking’ an injury in a big time moment to draw a whistle.

“Matt Calvert is one of the toughest guys I’ve played with is not faking it, looking for a whistle. Nor anybody would. It happened twice in the last two weeks or whenever we played Nashville. It sucks. I don’t know how Calvy’s doing. I haven’t had a chance to see him.”

Avalanche head coach Jared Bednar told Ryan Clark of The Athletic that he agrees the play needs be blown dead in that moment.

“I think it’s a discretionary call to blow it dead, right?”

Columbus’ Zach Werenski also commented on the video circulating online, agreeing that the play needs to stop in a situation like this.

Werenski added, “This is a tough spot for the refs based on the rule, it puts them in a tough position and I’m sure they don’t want to see anyone hurt on the ice. Have to find a way to make it more clear in situations like this.”

There’s been no medical update on Calvert’s condition as of Sunday morning.

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