The referee made the correct call when he assessed an unsportsmanlike-conduct penalty on Chris Pronger and negated an overtime goal Friday that would have given the Flyers a 3-2 win over the Calgary Flames, an NHL official said on Sunday.
Referee Ghislain Hebert, who has a split NHL/AHL contract, ruled that Pronger waved his arm in front of Flames goalie Miikka Kiprusoff and gave the defenseman a penalty.
The Flyers eventually lost in a shoot-out, 3-2.
Replays showed Pronger with his arm raised and quickly brought down - and no penalty called until three seconds later, after Mike Richards' shot went past the goalie. When Richards took his shot, Pronger's stick was down, with both hands clutching it.
Terry Gregson, the league's senior vice president and director of officiating, said on Sunday that only 1.5 seconds elapsed between Pronger's arm gesture and Richards' goal.
Replays do not support that claim.
Gregson said the amount of time that elapsed is irrelevant - the most important thing was getting the call accurate. He also said the arm-waving infraction is seen so infrequently that "it takes time for it to be processed" in the referee's mind.
"I've been in hockey for 32 years and only seen in twice," he said.
Gregson acknowledged that the call may have been a little slow in coming, "but I'm more about 'Was the right thing done?' I don't want to see any team score a goal in overtime after working their tails off and then having it disallowed. . . . But I'm glad [Hebert] reacted to it. The right call was made."
The infraction is not in the NHL's 2010-11 rule book. Instead, under Rule 75, there are generalities listed under "unsportsmanlike conduct."
"We don't list everything that constitutes unsportsmanlike conduct - because, to tell you the truth, there may be something we miss," Gregson said. "So, it's general and all-encompassing."
Gregson said when the rule was first created, after the Rangers' Sean Avery waved his hands and stick to block Devils goalie Martin Brodeur's view in a 2008 playoff game, it stated that a player would be called for unsportsmanlike conduct if he distracted the goalie illegally while facing him.
He added that the rule also applies if the player has his back to the goalie - as Pronger did.
"It's about the act, not whether or not he's facing the goaltender," Gregson said.
Gregson called Hebert a quality referee. He is a full-time ref in the AHL who also works some NHL games.
"I expect him to be the next great candidate" to be promoted to the NHL on a full-time basis, Gregson said.
As to why Hebert took so long before making the call, Gregson said: "I tell my officials, particularly the younger ones, to make sure you [replay the play in question] in your mind before making the call - instead of being fast and being wrong. This play was unique. We don't usually have that call, and when you process things you usually don't see, it takes a little longer."
Gregson agreed with the NHL's policy not to make it mandatory for referees to explain controversial calls to the media after a game.
"They're not all public speakers and don't have media training," he said of the refs. "There's a more consistent answer" if it comes from the league at a later time.
Breakaways. The Flyers' 2-1 shoot-out loss in New Jersey Saturday ended a stretch in which they played 10 games in 17 days. They went 6-2-2. . . . The Flyers had an off day Sunday. They host Boston on Wednesday in the teams' first meeting since the Flyers' version of the Miracle on Ice in last season's conference semifinals. The Flyers overcame a three-games-to-none deficit. . . . Boston goalie Tim Thomas entered Sunday with a .951 save percentage and 1.56 goals-against average.
The Flyers last week signed 6-foot-1, 195-pound Brandon Manning to a three-year, entry-level deal. Manning, 20, the Western Hockey League's second-leading scorer among defensemen with 27 points, will stay in juniors this season and probably play for the AHL Adirondack Phantoms next year. GM Paul Holmgren called him a "good all-around player."