The owner of the Vegas Golden Knights said Thursday a senior NHL executive phoned him to apologize for a penalty called during Game 7 of his team’s loss to the San Jose Sharks.
Owner Bill Foley said the call came the morning after Vegas lost 5-4 in overtime Tuesday night to end the first-round series. Foley said at a news conference the call came from an executive who is “about as senior as you can get,” but he did not want to identify him.
The play in question was a major penalty on Cody Eakin of the Golden Knights that Foley described as “infuriating.”
The owner said the executive admitted it was a “bad call” and the league did “acknowledge” it. Foley added that the apology made him “feel a little better after that.”
Foley said he was sitting with injured forward Erik Haula in a suite at SAP Center when Eakin cross-checked Sharks captain Joe Pavelski in the chest with 10:47 to play. Paul Stastny bumped Pavelski as he fell to the ice, where he was knocked out and bleeding on the ice.
The officials conferred on the unreviewable play while a dazed Pavelski was helped to the locker room with a towel pressed to his head. Eakin was assessed a 5-minute penalty for cross-checking and a game misconduct. The Sharks scored four goals on the ensuing power play.
Series supervisor Don VanMassenhoven said the major penalty was given because the cross-check caused a significant injury.
“The game was ours, it was over, 3-zip,” Foley said. “We were looking, saying ‘all we gotta do is play some defense, play defense and stay out of the box.’ Within 30 seconds, 5-minute major. It wasn’t a penalty. Painful.”
San Jose coach Peter DeBoer said Pavelski is listed as day to day but is not expected to be cleared for Game 1 of the second-round series against the Avalanche on Friday night.
DeBoer downplayed the league’s call to Foley.
“I haven’t gotten many of their calls where they made a mistake,” DeBoer said. “There were a couple earlier in that series where I would have appreciated a call. We’re past that. We’re on to the next opponent now.”
AP sports writer Josh Dubow in San Jose, California, contributed to this report.
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