Stephen Walkom will referee conference finals

By Adam Gretz | Hockey writer

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Stephen Walkom was at the center of controversy on Wednesday night when his penalty calls negated what would have been a game-winning goal from Chicago Blackhawks defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson in the closing minutes of regulation.

Had Chicago not won the game in overtime on Brent Seabrook's goal, it probably would have been one of the most infamous calls in NHL history. And it won't be stopping him from refereeing in the next round.

According to Sportsnet's Mark Spector, Walkom will be moving on to referee in the conference finals.

The NHL also had no issue with the call.

The league told TSN that Walkom's job on the play was to watch what was happening behind the play and not concern himself with the puck, while also adding that the whistle had blown before Hjalmarsson's shot went in.

The league said the call was "absolutely correct."

Walkom was originally a referee in the NHL until 2005 when he started to serve as the NHL's director of officiating, a position he held until 2009 when he decided to return to the ice.

Shortly after his controversial call on Wednesday, Edmonton Oilers defenseman Ryan Whitney joined the conversation on Twitter and called Walkom one of three best referees in the league (while also calling the call itself "crazy bad.")

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