Penguins Q&A with Dave Molinari

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Q: What is the burden of proof for determining whether a goal is scored? With every close call going to the "war room" in Toronto, does the on-ice ruling make a difference (as it does in the NFL, where there has to be "indisputable" evidence to overturn a call on the field), or is it assumed a no-goal unless video proves otherwise?

Jay Roddy, Robinson

MOLINARI: The on-ice ruling is, in fact, of paramount importance. Unless the video reviews turns up conclusive evidence -- the key term there is "conclusive" -- that the initial call on the ice was wrong, it will not be changed.

The apparent goal by the Penguins late in the first period of Game 2 Sunday was a textbook example. A Sergei Gonchar shot bounced off Flyers defensemen Derian Hatcher and eluded goalie Martin Biron, who reached back and pulled it into the crease; the issue was whether Biron did that before the puck crossed the goal line completely.

Replays suggested, but did not prove conclusively, that it was across the line before Biron grabbed it. On the overhead view, which often makes a definitive judgment possible in such cases, Biron's glove obscured the puck. Based on where the puck was located when it still was visible, and how much Biron's glove continued to move toward the back of the net after the puck was out of sight, it seemed reasonable to conclude that the goal was legit.

However, the NHL's standard of conclusive evidence could not be met, because there was no view that absolutely showed the puck completely behind the goal line. Consequently, even though the decision might not have been correct, it was proper, based on the burden-of-proof guidelines established by the league.

Q: Who votes for the three stars at the end of the game? How does Sidney Crosby receive the No. 1 star (in Game 2). He scores on a fluke goal off a defenseman's stick. He gets an assist off an open-net goal, also he blew a lay-up for the goal that was disallowed. Gonchar had three assists. How about (Max Talbot) for getting the game-winner while playing with a broken foot? Sid is a good hockey player but there is no way he is the best player in the league. No way.

Bill, North Hills

MOLINARI: The three stars are, as a rule, chosen by a panel of media members who volunteer to participate in the voting, which generally in conducted shortly after the middle of the third period. There are times, however, when team officials alter the results of the voting, based on developments late in regulation of in overtime.

Far more interesting, though, is the way your submission reflects a virulent, though not widespread, strain of anti-Crosby sentiment that has emerged in recent months among people who, by their own description, are Penguins fans.

Should Crosby have been the No. 1 star in Game 2? It's open to debate. Is he the best player in the league today? That's a viable topic for discussion, too. Is there any possible connection between those two, as the author of this submission seems to be suggesting? It's impossible to see how, unless the one who does so is interested only in casting Crosby in the most unfavorable light possible, with no regard for facts or logic.

Precisely what it is that Crosby has done to alienate people who purport to support his team is hard to say. He accepts the countless responsibilities that go with being captain of the team and face of the post-lockout NHL without complaint, there's no indication he's ever been involved with any legal issue more serious than allowing a parking meter to expire (if that) and he has a work ethic unsurpassed by anyone in the game.

None of that makes him the top performer in the game, and those who believe other players -- be it Alex Ovechkin, Evgeni Malkin, Jarome Iginla or whoever -- are entitled to their beliefs, and a compelling argument could be made for several others. But only those who have suffered a severe disconnect from reality and/or have a deep emotional attachment to the teams he routinely tortures, like Philadelphia, would even consider excluding Crosby from the debate, however. That some self-professed Penguins fans seem eager to do so -- and to express their feelings about him in exceptionally hostile terms -- really is an interesting phenomenon.

Finally, whether Talbot had a broken foot or psoriasis or a sprained pinky should have had no bearing on whether he was chosen as one of the game's stars. (He was No. 2.) The voting is supposed to reflect performance, not whatever adversity a player had to deal with while performing.


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