blank'/> THE PUCK REPORT: Today In NHL History - LA Kings Clock Stoppage

Thursday, February 1, 2024

Today In NHL History - LA Kings Clock Stoppage

On February 1st in 2012, Los Angeles Kings defenseman Drew Doughty scored a game winning powerplay goal against the Columbus Blue Jackets with 0.4 seconds remaining in the third period. A closer look confirmed the Staples Center game clocked stopped for a full second moments before the goal was scored. Absent the stoppage, the match would have been tied 2-2 upon completion of regulation time and headed to overtime.

The NHL's video room reviewed the goal, but somehow didn't notice the clock had stopped until minutes after the game. Colin Campbell later confirmed the goal should not have counted and the league would conduct an investigation to determine what caused the error. However, the result of the game would remain. And with that, Clockgate was born. Amazingly, a similar glitch went unnoticed eleven nights earlier.  Afterwards, an irate Blue Jackets GM Scott Howson wrote:

It is an amazing coincidence that with the Kings on a power play at Staples Center and with a mad scramble around our net in the dying seconds of the third period of a 2-2 hockey game that the clock stopped for at least one full second. I can only think of two ways in which this would have happened. Either there was a deliberate stopping of the clock or the clock malfunctioned."
Kings GM Dean Lombardo claimed the delay was due to the clock moving too quickly during the game, citing science as the cause:
"Those clocks are sophisticated instruments that calculate time by measuring electrical charges called coulombs – given the rapidity and volume of electrons that move through the measuring device the calibrator must adjust at certain points which was the delay you see. The delay is just recalibrating for the clock moving too quickly during the 10–10ths of a second before the delay. This insures that the actual playing time during a period is exactly 20 minutes. That is not an opinion -– that is science -– amazing device quite frankly."
Commissioner Gary Bettman acknowlegded if the clock had run straight through "the game would have been at a tie at that point, would have gone to overtime." Bettman continued, "if we had any reason to believe that this was intentional we would deal with it in a whole different way, but we're going to investigate it, get to the bottom of it."

Ultimately it was determined that human error caused the pause, as the clock was found to have been manually stopped. Despite Lombardi's quasi-scientific explanation, the NHL's investigation revealed that "clocks do not know how to stop on their own".

The Los Angeles Kings finished 8th in the western conference, snagging the final playoff spot with a five point cushion above the 9th place Calgary Flames. The Columbus Blue Jackets finished the season in last place, with the next closest team nine points ahead. The Kings won the Stanley Cup and the Blue Jackets selected 2nd overall in the 2012 NHL Draft.

While the final standings and playoff picture were not directly affected by the debacle, it's safe to say the integrity of the game and reputation of timekeepers in Los Angeles suffered a significant blow.

The Kings recorded a 3-2 victory over the Blue Jackets.

That's today in NHL history.