Zach Werenski can relate to what Colorado Avalanche forward Matt Calvert went through Saturday night, and the Columbus Blue Jackets defenseman says the officials should have blown the play dead after his former teammate took a puck to the head.
"Has to be blown down. This play has to stop," Werenski tweeted early Sunday morning before issuing a clarification about seven hours later.
"To clarify, 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," he added. "Have to find a way to make it more clear in situations like this."
In the final minutes of Saturday's game between the Avalanche and the Vancouver Canucks, Calvert took an Elias Pettersson shot to the head. The Canucks scored shortly thereafter, as play continued with Calvert bleeding while laying on the ice.
Colorado star Nathan MacKinnon also questioned the decision not to stop the play, calling the rule "pretty crazy." While acknowledging it wasn't the refs' fault, MacKinnon said he didn't think Calvert was "faking it, trying to get a whistle."
Under Rule 8.1 of the NHL rule book, officials aren't mandated to immediately blow a play dead when a player can't continue playing:
When a player is injured so that he cannot continue 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.
In the case where it is obvious that a player has sustained a serious injury, the referee and/or linesman may stop the play immediately.
Werenski found himself in a similar situation in 2017 when referees let play continue after he took a puck to the face during a playoff game against the Pittsburgh Penguins, who scored the tying goal with Werenski laying on the ice in pain.
Calvert was a member of the Blue Jackets at the time, and the two players were teammates through 2017-18.