How One Commentator Spoiled The Blackhawks' Fate

written by Kris Caballero (April 28, 2016)

(When I say "spoiled," I meant in terms related to film: mention the key plot of the entire presentation.)

Live sports broadcasts have commentators for a reason. One of them IS NOT pin-pointing the one play where a team is likely headed to the exit way before the game is even over. Or at least that's what it seemed like during Game 7 of the Chicago Blackhawks-St. Louis Blues Round 1 playoff series.

The broadcast was aired in Canada's Hockey Night in Canada SportsNet with the game called by commentators Dave Randorf and Greg Millen. The St. Louis crowd are lit up, standing, cheering in what looks like the final showdown of the oh-so-familiar situation they've had with the 'Hawks. I'm sure Blues fans have grown tired of seeing it (ask any Red Wings fan), but it's time to settle the score.

Everything played out as usual; Heck, I even sat down to watch the entire game. With the crowd injected with 'Hawks fans thinking it'll be another dramatic comeback from their boys, hoping to add insult to St. Louis' injury in their house, such as losing the Rams to Los Angeles, it pays sometimes to watch the game at home. To avoid fan fights and hecklers? That's one good reason. However, one must pay attention and listen closely to what commentators say on air. (Perhaps, this proves exactly why technology gave us the ability to rewind live TV.) As Bob Costas once said commentating the 1997-1998 NBA Finals featuring the Chicago Bulls versus the Utah Jazz in Game 6: "That would've been a dagger in Chicago's hearts[1]." Well Mr. Costas, it actually was.

At the third quarter with 4:07 left to go in regulation, with the 'Hawks down by one, [Brent] Seabrook receives a pass from [Andrew] Shaw to shoot one at the goal. Tie game? Look:

Close but no cigar

Commentator Randorf said the goal light was on, but the referees called off the shot: no goal.

With 3:20 left to go, broadcasters went on to replay that shot twice. Suddenly, commentator Millen says,
" that the play, that knocks the Stanley Cup champions out of the playoffs...."

Notice why I didn't put a question mark to complete and correct the tonal voice of Millen's say, quoted above. That's because when you ask a question, you're supposed to raise your tone when you're about to complete an interrogative. In this case with Millen, it didn't sound that way. What seemed like a rhetoric to trigger suspense for those watching at home, or at a sports bar, that phrase by Millen went from "hold on tight because it's going to go down to the wire!" immediately turns to "well, you win some, you lose some, Blackhawks, and I'm sorry."

After that fiasco, the rest of the game went like this: Kane's shot attempt was blocked; Anisimov's shot was stopped by Elliot; Hossa's drive was deflected; Keith's drive was kicked aside; Seabrook's shot was stopped again by Elliot; Another shot by Seabrook was blocked by Pietrangelo; Shaw tries to shoot a final attempt but never got near. Game has ended, and the Blues won, with a score of 3 to 2, advancing to the second round against the Dallas Stars.

One could say the Blues' defense made it difficult for the 'Hawks to try and shoot a goal, including the help of Elliot protecting the net. Question is would that goal, shot by Seabrook that was called off, would've been the step for the recipe to a heart-pounding overtime? It may as well be, but that's not the point. The point is the 'Hawks, in all their amazing glory, didn't even fight hard enough to try and get that puck into the goal to tie the game.

All that aside, now brings Millen's comments into perspective. Doubtful there was any fan watching on their TV/smartphone/tablet/computer that knew and heard what Millen said, and immediately shut off their devices knowing their Blackhawks lost without watching the rest of the game to see if they can squeeze in some last chances. Oh, and for those 'Hawks fans who says it was supposed to be a goal, here's what the NHL rule book writes:
"78.4: Scoring A Goal — [2]

A goal shall be scored when the puck shall have
been put between the goal posts by the stick of a player of the
attacking side, from in front and below the crossbar, and entirely
across a red line the width of the diameter of the goal posts drawn on
the ice from one goal post to the other with the goal frame in its proper

There were games when the puck hit the bottom part of the top goal post, then landing on ice and partially sliding toward the net, but not completely crossing the red [goal] line. Those times, referees called it a goal. I can see why this wasn't called because the puck, having hit both left and the right posts, ricocheted out of the net, thus no goal. Then again, consistency is key: if that was called a goal before, call it a goal. If you're not sure, play it safe and don't call it. Whether that shot went in or not, Millen's comment is comparative of a movie fan's plot to record an unreleased trailer in a theater with his/her cell phone and leaking it on the Internet for the world to see, weeks before its official release (Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice fans, rejoice). Although not weeks, but three minutes before the game was over, Millen "subtly" spilled the beans, and Blackhawk fans who attended the game stayed throughout the whole thing for a reason. Fire Millen for his "spoiling?" There's no need to.

All this makes me sound like a Blackhawks fan. Am I? No, I'm not. I'm not even a Blues fan. The point of this article is having to point out a commentator for saying something that seems to be a spoiler for fans watching, as the game unfolds. Yes, it's a live broadcast but sometimes, what one person says can have a "profound" effect as time goes by. If you're one of those who believe in Determinism, you know exactly what I'm saying.

Distraught Blackhawks fans in St Louis (Mother and Son)A sad and worried Blackhawks fan

I know the feeling, 'Hawks fans. I make the same face when I look at our country's market economy, like any other American.

Next time, listen to the commentators. Whether they know the scoop or not, there's a reason they do all the talking.

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1. Inside Hoops: Missed Shots That Could've Altered NBA History

2. NHL [2014-2015] Rule Book: National Hockey League Official Rules 2014-2015 (page 112) #78.4: Scoring A Goal