Chambers: It wasn’t a tantrum. Gabe Landeskog’s postgame “statement” holds merit for NHL to examine

Avalanche captain Gabe Landeskog began his postgame news conference Thursday without taking a question.

He made a statement.

“In 11 years I’ve never sat and talked about referees in a press conference — ever,” Landeskog said.

And then the reality of the situation became obvious at PNC Arena in Raleigh, N.C. The Avs were assessed three consecutive penalties in the third period of what felt like a playoff game between the top two teams in contention to win the President’s Trophy with the NHL’s best record — which ensures home-ice advantage throughout the playoffs.

It was a big game. And Landeskog said a non-call that led to the game-winning goal was unjustly not called because of Nazem Kadri’s bad-boy reputation.

Landeskog’s gripe had merit, and he was ejected from the game in the final minute for complaining about it.

The affable Swede certainly deserves for folks to hear him out.

It was 0-0 late in the third period between the Eastern Conference-leading Carolina Hurricanes and Western Conference-leading Avalanche, and Landeskog believed referees Wes McCauley and TJ Luxmore didn’t treat it as the game that it became.

In a playoff game, power plays are typically balanced — but Landeskog believed the refs didn’t think that way with Kadri at the forefront of the controversy. Kadri, of course, has a history of losing his cool in the playoffs.

Landeskog’s beef was a penalty called on Kadri and a non-call against him that led to the game-winning goal with 5:20 remaining. The Canes added an empty-net goal and skated off 2-0 winners in a highly entertaining game between two heavyweights.

“I think Wes and TJ Luxmore did a great job tonight, actually for 50-something minutes of the game,” Landeskog said in his opening remarks. “They call the high stick on Naz against (Carolina forward Nino) Niederreiter, which might have been a high stick, but Niederreiter falls easy. We’re arguing that it’s a flop. They say it’s still high stick, fair enough. At 5:50-something on the clock. Niederreiter is hooking Naz up the boards, the puck turns over and (they) go the other way and score. We’re arguing that it’s a hook, they’re saying that Naz is flopping. We’re arguing that it’s still a hook, just like they’re arguing before.

“It’s unfortunate because that’s a playoff game tonight. It’s very unfortunate that comes down to that. Like I said, I thought Wes and TJ did a great job up to that point.”

Landeskog had more to say — partly to help explain why he was ejected from the game. He insinuated that Kadri’s reputation was used against him with the calls in question.

“Whether a guy’s been suspended numerous times or not, what’s he going to carry around that heavy, heavy baggage forever?” Landeskog said. “I am not saying that TJ and Wes didn’t call it for that reason, but Naz is a guy that’s competitive and whether he sold that call or not, you can look at the video and the stick is in his waist and that’s why he loses the puck.

“I think it’s unfortunate, and sometimes it’s time for players to step up and speak the truth, because, you know, I’m the one looking like an idiot for getting thrown out of the game.”

Landeskog is a high-character individual and the Avs couldn’t have a better captain. His statement succinctly described his and Kadri’s emotions and what the referees might have been thinking.

Think of it as a conversation piece for everyone who follows the NHL.

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