NHL ref calls penalty on Tampa Bay in preseason game without Tampa Bay

NHL referee Dan Kelly prepares to announce a penalty during a preseason game between the Florida Panthers and Montreal Canadiens on Thursday night. (Twitter//@ScoutingTheRefs)

Can’t decide which of the NHL’s 31 teams to root for ahead of the 2019-20 season? Why not go off the board and throw your support behind the newest?

(And no, we’re not talking about the Seattle franchise that will join the league for the 2021-22 campaign.)

During the first period of a preseason contest between the Florida Panthers and Montreal Canadiens at the Bell Centre on Thursday night, Florida’s Jonathan Ang was called for tripping Montreal’s Paul Byron. While that’s precisely what happened, Dan Kelly — the referee that called the penalty — didn’t see it that way when he announced the call to the crowd.

Honestly, I like the sound of the Tampa Bay Panthers. Could you imagine the incredible squad that the two organizations would put together if they were to merge? A team with Steven Stamkos, Aleksander Barkov, Nikita Kucherov, Jonathan Huberdeau, Victor Hedman, Aaron Ekblad and Andrei Vasilevskiy wearing the same jersey would be lethal.

In all seriousness though, the gaffe was an innocent one by Kelly. Making one of the first calls of his NHL career, he simply had an innocent brain fart.

Kelly joins the league’s officiating staff for the 2019-20 season after a pretty successful career as a player. Despite never playing a game in the NHL, he logged seven seasons in the AHL (the most recent being the 2016-17 campaign with the San Jose Barracuda). And after quickly rising through the ranks as a zebra, the 30-year-old has now made it to the sport’s pinnacle.

With this verbal blunder making the rounds online, don’t expect the rookie to make this type of mistake again in the future.

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