FanDuel Refunds St. Louis Wagers After Dubious Call Leads to Sharks’ Win

  • Four NHL match officials failed to see an illegal hand pass by a Sharks player
  • They allowed the goal and Sharks went on to win 5-4
  • NHL rulebook does not permit review of goals resulting indirectly from a hand pass
  • FanDuel's gesture to St. Louis bettors was in response to the controversial ruling


San Jose Sharks jersey in an ice block
San Jose Sharks won their match against St. Louis Blues after NHL officials on the ice missed an illegal hand pass by a Sharks player.

Game ends in controversy

FanDuel’s sportsbook has announced that it is refunding all moneyline wagers on the St. Louis Blues team in the NHL game versus the San Jose Sharks. The match, played last Wednesday, May 15, was the third in the Western Conference Final.

The game ended in controversy when the Sharks were declared the winners by a score of 5-4.

However, none of the four match officials spotted an illegal hand pass by Sharks player Timo Meier during overtime. The forward seemingly touched the puck while it was sailing through the air and teammate Gustav Nyquist was able to hit it on to Erik Karlsson, who then scored the winning goal.

NHL rules, controversially, do not permit a replay or even a review of play when a goal has been scored resulting indirectly from an illegal hand pass. However, officials are allowed to use their discretion during play.

The Blues challenged the call immediately, and watched officials confer briefly before they decided the goal was good.

The NHL issued a statement via ESPN after the match. It said: “Plays of this nature are not reviewable. A hand pass that goes into the net can be reviewed but a hand pass between teammates cannot be reviewed.”

In a post-match interview, St. Louis coach Craig Berube told reporters he had been given no explanation for the call. He was reluctant to discuss the controversy further, saying: “We gotta move on, that’s all we can do. We all gotta move on and get ready for Game 4.”

A good gesture

FanDuel said on Twitter it would return all moneyline bets on the Blues after the controversial finish. It also paid homage to the Sharks’ ability.

The gambling operator tweeted: “We have to hand it to the Sharks, they’re [sic] unwavering grit made for a thrilling Game 3 finish. However, due to the controversial nature of San Jose’s OT winner, we’re refunding all St. Louis ML bets from last night’s game $ Blues fans, #PlayGloria and we’ll see you for Game 4!”

FanDuel’s generosity was applauded by those in the gambling sector. Industry publication Gaming News retweeted the sportsbook, adding: “What a gesture from @FanDuel @FDSportsbook Nice job!!”

Yahoo! sports journalist Ailish Forfar described FanDuel’s move as “honorable” in her match report. She wrote: “There was clearly a hand pass leading directly to the Sharks’ overtime winner, and fans were understandably very angry at the league and their inability to review such a call. The need for massive rule changes this offseason are being blatantly exposed throughout the playoffs.”

Of course, FanDuel will also have cleaned up on other wagers on the match. Forfar reported: “This is a classy move from a company that likely profited on the missed call.”

FanDuel’s decision has garnered them good publicity. Increasingly, sportsbook operators are willing to offer goodwill to bettors in controversial circumstances. Gambling often suffers from a poor public image, so such refunds show the sportsbooks in a good light.

Sharks benefit three times from rulings

Wednesday’s missed call was the latest of several dubious rulings in favor of the Sharks by NHL match officials.

In April, during a game between the San Jose Sharks and the Las Vegas Golden Knights, officials awarded a misconduct penalty against Knights player Cody Eakin with less than 11 minutes to go. Eakin was adjudged to have hit Shark Joe Pavelski in the face with his stick.

Pavelski had fallen after a faceoff with Eakin but had not been hit in the face. Nevertheless, officials said they saw blood on Pavelski’s face and ruled against Cody. The Golden Knights were leading 3-0 at this point, but the harshness of the penalty unnerved them and Sharks went on to win 4-3 in overtime.

The Sharks benefited only a week ago from another controversial call during Game 7 against Colorado Avalanche. They were leading 2-1 when Avalanche’s Colin Wilson put in a goal to level the score. Sharks challenged the call on the grounds that Avalanche’s winger Gabriel Landeskog was offside at the point of Wilson’s puck crossing the line.

Officials decided to disallow the goal and Sharks went on to win the game 3-1. The ruling put Sharks into the final against St. Louis Blues.

As a result of Wednesday’s controversial score, Sharks are now ahead of Blues by 2-1 in the final’s series. Game 4 takes place on Friday and no doubt the press and fans will be scrutinizing the match closely.

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