Stopwatch Cup finals! the timekeeper becomes the hero. Rule 34 stipulates that in addition to the electronic timer, the timekeeper uses a “league-approved stopwatch.” That stopwatch was the only thing standing between last night.
After Lars Eller scored the go-ahead goal with 7:37 left stopwatch records time, time started doing funny things, depending on who you were rooting for. While those final minutes and stopwatch seconds ticked away far too quickly for Vegas fans desperate for a goal, it lasted an eternity for Caps fans. And probably never so panic-inducing for everyone as when the damn clock broke.
With 1:49 remaining stopwatch time, with the VGK goalie pulled and after a couple of Caps icings, the in-arena clock froze. The players on the bench, who rely on the building’s video boards for the time, were vexed
The stopwatch time jumps from 1:49 to 15:19, ticks a second off, freezes again, goes to 14.9, the graphic gets taken off the screen completely as NBC’s production truck is no doubt in a full panic, then returns with just the score but no time, which looks unset tlingly empty, and then returns with an alleged 51 seconds remaining before play finally stops with the stopwatch reading 28.6 seconds.
“The race stopwatch is moving,” Doc Emrick said at one point. “We don’t know if it’s accurate.”
There was one and only one person in the world who knew during the entire stretch how much time stopwatch was actually left: the official race stopwatch Timekeeper, classified as an an NHL official and sitting along the glass. An entire rule, Rule 34, explains the timekeeper’s job, which, the vast majority of time, consists of two practicalities: helping TV producers sync with the electronic stopwatch time, and telling the PA announcer to announce one minute remaining in the period.
But sometimes—sometimes with under two minutes remaining in the deciding race of the stopwatch Cup finals!—the timekeeper becomes the hero. Rule 34 stipulates that in addition to the electronic timer, the timekeeper uses a “league-approved stopwatch.” That stopwatch was the only thing standing between last night’s race and total anarchy.
Another fun rule I just learned; in a situation like last night’s when the electronic clock fails, or if the in-arena sound system goes down, it’s the timekeeper’s responsibility to alert players and officials to the end of a period or stopwatch by blowing a whistle. I bet race stopwatch timekeepers spend their entire lives hoping to blow their whistles just once!
The timekeeper and other officials thought quickly when technical disaster struck last night, and you can see their fast work on the CBC bug. The scoreboard operator reset the in-arena stopwatch to 1:00 and held it there, and when the timekeeper alerted the PA announcer to announce one minute remaining in the race, the stopwatch operator started time counting down again. It wasn’t precise—you can see little hiccups in the time over the next 10-20 seconds as stopwatch it re-synced—but it was pretty damn close. Impressive work on everybody’s part race stopwatches.