Last night, the Islanders scored to tie the Sabres with about a minute and a half left in the game. The referee, Mike Leggo, waved the goal off. He said that Ryan Miller was pushed in after making the save. (Untrue.) He also said he had meant to blow the whistle to stop the play because he lost sight of the puck. (Great. Maybe he can give some penalties out for hitting after the whistle, because he TOTALLY meant to blow the play dead but forgot.) He told the Islanders that the decision would be made by Toronto. Toronto said that the refs on the ice made the decision. None of the stories match up, but the fact is that Leggo made an awful call, on a clear goal, and then came up with 100 CYA explanations.
I did a bit of searching to see what Leggo's history in the NHL was, and it turns out that he has a proud string of really crappy, game-changing calls (and non-calls) to his name over the past few years. Why this ref is in the NHL, much less in the playoffs, is frankly baffling. And this was just on the first couple of pages of searches.
Buffalo gets benefit of Leggo blown calls vs. Rangers, day after Leggo screws up video replay, Nov 2006
But it's hard enough to have to face a team that good -- to have to face them on a second straight night of horrendous officiating that mostly went in their favor proved to be impossible. The litany of officiating errors in this game was legion, and all but one or two were by Mike Leggo, the referee who didn't see Cullen's goal the night before in Pittsburgh and failed to allow sufficient time for video review to correct his oversight (he had a different partner last night).
Leggo's errors in this game actually began with a bad call against Buffalo -- the double minor to Chris Drury for bloodying Adam Hall's nose with his stick was on the followthrough of playing a puck, which is not supposed to be a penalty. Leggo, as you an see from the replay, could not see the original impact through several bodies and made a late call only when he saw Hall on the ice.
The three calls that gave Buffalo a five on three for two minutes were all made by Leggo, and they were all correct (although he allowed Jason Ward to be crosschecked from behind when he cleared the puck over the glass for a delay of game call), but from there on everything went against the Rangers -- actually, some calls had already gone against the Rangers when Maxim Afinogenov was allowed to pick off Straka in his end of the ice and then get a call on Petr Prucha on a dive at the other end of the ice.
The absolute worst was when Jaromir Jagr was tackled right in front of Leggo, with no possible excuse for not seeing the penalty (which was actually the second against Jagr on the play after earlier obstruction). But it was not all -- Matt Cullen was tripped in Leggo's end of the ice with no call, even though the other referee had a line of sight as well; Straka was tripped on a possible breakaway with no call by the other referee; and Brendan Shanahan was obstructed off the deciding face-off as he tried to get to the point to defend against the shot that Drury deflected home for the game winner.
Leggo gets confused by loud noise, waves off tying goal, Mar 2003
Selanne's back-hander rolled over the shoulder of Dallas goalie Marty Turco and into the net as the final 10th of a second ran off and the horn sounded.
The goal was waved off originally by referee Mike Leggo, and after nearly 5 minutes of video replay, the call stood to the disappointment of most of the 17,496 fans.
"I thought it didn't cross the line before I heard the horn," Leggo said.
Selanne was already in midcelebration before he heard Leggo's ruling. After seeing several replays and getting the support of the fans, Selanne was steaming about the final decision.
"This is a joke," Selanne said. "Thank god this game didn't mean anything. But this is the NHL, they should at least get it right."
Leggo blows high-sticked goal, Avs vs. Wings, Jan 2007
Except for the goaltending of Jose Theodore, who started for the first time in a month, the margin of defeat could have been far worse, but Quenneville's ire was directed at referees Don Koharski and Mike Leggo.
Quenneville was upset when a goal by Tomas Holmstrom with 5: 58 to play in the third period was allowed to stand after lengthy video reviews by NHL officials in Toronto.
The goal, which gave the Red Wings a 2-0 lead, was produced when Holmstrom lifted his stick to swat the rebound of defenseman Nicklas Lidstrom's shot.
The play was reviewed to determine whether Holmstrom knocked the puck in with a high stick, but the replays were inconclusive.
Leggo allows kicked/high-sticked goal to stand, May 2006
The Oilers scored at very controversial goal at 16:07, with Hemsky kicking the puck in the net following what should've been a high-stick on Horcoff. On the play, Horcoff had his stick above his head and redirected a point shot at Legace. Mike Leggo and Mick McGeough blew the call, as it was pretty obvious Horcoff tipped the puck with a high-stick. McGeough was the closest on the play. Legace attempted to cover the rebound off the Horcoff re-direct, but couldn't get his glove on it.
Leggo's quick whistle negates goal, Mar 2003
Defenseman Brian Leetch had 10 of New York's 41 shots andthought he scored the tying goal with 10:19 left in the third period when he jammed a rebound through Luongo's pads. But aquick whistle by referee Mike Leggo negated the goal.
"He blew the whistle and you have to accept it," Rangers coachGlen Sather said.
"He lost sight of the puck and blew the whistle and it was atough break for us," Leetch added.
Canucks goal called off by Leggo "royal screw job", Jan 2006
Mike Leggo waved it off; said he lost sight of the puck. Fair enough, all he had to do was put the matter in the hands of the replay official. Nope, he wouldn’t do that either.
For the second time in the game, officials altered the course of the game with a whistle.
“They didn’t give us [an explaination],” said a stoic Marc Crawford. “They were adamant about it. They thought they had blown the whistle. But it’s his call to make, not mine.”
It was, as they say, a royal screw job worthy of its own castle.