Fraser: Checking out Alex Burrows's shootout attempt

Kerry Fraser
1/29/2013 1:32:28 PM
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Got a question on rule clarification, comments on rule enforcements or some memorable NHL stories? Kerry Fraser wants to answer your emails at!

Hi Kerry,

I watch the refs on the ice not blow Alex Burrows shootout attempt dead after he did some wacky spin trick and stickhandle while at a dead stop. It is my understanding that on penalty shots you must always maintain a forward motion once you take possession at centre. In your opinion, did Burrows stop or do you think they got the call right and allowed him to make a shot?

Edmonton, Alberta


The right decision was made by the referee to allow Alexandre Burrows to continue with the shootout attempt following his "creative" move on Kings goalie Jonathan Quick. While I would have also allowed the play to continue as per the rules, I believe that an unfair advantage is being given to the shooters over the goalkeepers on plays such as this.  As players continue to enhance their offensive skills, "circus type maneuvers" have been allowed to flourish in an effort to enhance the entertainment value of penalty shots and shootouts. I have a suggestion to make for the goalkeepers to level the playing field and counteract these 'skilled' moves but first let me share with you why Alex Burrows' maneuver is deemed to be legal.

The rules governing the shootout are the same as those listed under Rule 24 - Penalty Shot. It is important to familiarize yourself with Rule 24.2 - Procedure which I list here in point form:

- The puck must be kept in motion towards the opponent's goal line and once it is shot, the play shall be considered complete.

- No goal can be scored on a rebound of any kind (an exception being the puck off the goal post or crossbar, then the goalkeeper and then directly into the goal), and any time the puck crosses the goal line or comes to a complete stop, the shot shall be considered complete.

- The lacrosse-like move whereby the puck is picked up on the blade of the stick and "whipped" into the net shall be permitted provided the puck is not raised above the height of the shoulders at any time and when released, is not carried higher than the crossbar.

- The spin-o-rama type move when the player competes a 360 degree turn as he approaches the goal, shall be permitted as this involves continuous motion. However, should the puck come to a complete stop at any time during the shot attempt, the shot shall be stopped and no goal will be the result.

Two elements contained in the above "procedures" that govern penalty shots are most obvious. First, the puck must be kept in continuous motion toward the goal line and if it should stop the attempt is ruled complete.  The puck must come to a complete stop!  Given the puck's momentum on slippery ice there is very little potential for that occurring even though it might appear to be the case in real time.

The other element that has been legislated into this rule is to allow for previously deemed, non-traditional hockey moves to now flourish, almost without restriction or consequence.  Moves that were first revealed to entertain fans during the Skills Competition at All-Star games are now commonplace and deemed legal, "skilled" moves. The fans love it - the goalies hate it.

As we closely watch the vis of Alexandre Burrows remove his stick from the puck to perform his version of the spin-o-rama, keep your eye focused on the puck (especially from the reverse angle replay) and you will see that the puck does continue with slight movement toward the goal line. Burrows regained contact with the puck and then stick-handled prior to ripping a shot off the crossbar. Everything that Alex did, including the ever so slight forward motion of the puck, were well within the current rules.

Since these rules won't change anytime in the near future goalies must adapt their style to defend against these "skilled" maneuvers. I believe goalkeepers must become more 'offensive' minded in their approach to defending against these plays.

My suggestion is as follows; the instant an approaching forward drops his head to execute a spin or other "skilled" move from close range I would suggest that the goalie immediately attack and initiate body contact with the player and the puck. Contact by the goalie with the puck would be deemed a save.

Remember, a legal goal cannot be scored on a rebound so unless the puck slid past the goalkeeper and into the net without further contact by the shooter this attempt would be ruled complete by the referee.  I am confident that Billy Smith, Ron Hextall, Garth Snow and others from the goalie fraternity would have figured this out long ago. 

Until this happens, continue to enjoy the highly creative, offensive skills that players utilize on penalty shots and shootouts.  These are designed and deemed legal to enhance your entertainment value.

Kerry Fraser

Kerry Fraser

Kerry Fraser is an analyst for the NHL on TSN and That's Hockey 2Nite on TSN2. As one of the league's most recognizable senior referees, he's worked 1,904 NHL regular season games and 261 playoff games during his 37-year career.

Got a question on rule clarification, comments on rule enforcements or some memorable NHL stories? Kerry wants to answer your emails at!

You can also follow Kerry Fraser on Twitter at @kfraserthecall!

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