Got a question on rule clarification, comments on rule enforcements or some memorable NHL stories? Kerry Fraser wants to answer your emails at firstname.lastname@example.org!
I'll keep it short and sweet, I'm just wondering what the rules are with regards to high sticking. In the Hawks/Kings game Monday night, Mike Richards was controlling the puck before turning and taking a shot; on the follow through his stick hit Viktor Stalberg's face, immediately shooting the referee's hand in the air.
Is there any amount of referee discretion on these calls? My understanding was that inadvertent contact on a follow through wasn't counted as a high stick, and to make it even worse, Stalberg was cut on the play giving Richards four minutes in the box for something I didn't consider to be a penalty!
So, last night in the Blackhawks/Kings game Mike Richards was assessed a double minor for high-sticking that drew blood. My confusion comes from the fact that the high stick occurred on a follow through from an attempted shot. Now, it was explained to me that if it's a wild swing at a bouncing puck that would be a penalty and not be protected under the "follow through" rule. After looking at it a couple of times it appears that Richards was shooting, even though the puck jumped his stick and probably shouldn't have been penalized. Did the refs get this one wrong?
Thanks Kerry. Keep it up!
Pete and Ryan:
You get a two for one question and answer today courtesy of my friend Pierre McGuire and the good folks at NBC Sports Network for supplying us with this clip (video link) of the play. I answered Trevor's alternate question (below) while I waited for the clip.
Rule 60.1 is clear when it states that players must be in control of their sticks however, a player is permitted accidental contact on an opponent if the act is committed as a normal windup or follow through of a shooting motion. A wild swing at a bouncing puck would not be considered a normal windup or follow through and any contact to an opponent above the height of the shoulders shall be penalized accordingly.
The second part of that rule is what the officials interpreted and deemed to have taken place when Mike Richards turned with the puck on his stick and attempted to make a shot with his head up and eyes focused on the net. At that moment the puck became unsettled and hopped up and over the blade of Richards' stick. The normal follow through of Richards' shooting motion contacted Victor Stalberg in the face resulting in an injury. Since the shot was not executed by Richards and the puck was in the air the Official must have deemed it to be a "wild swing" at a bouncing puck as opposed to the puck jumping off the blade of Mike Richards' stick while in the act of shooting. It would have also looked bad from their perspective that Mike Richards regained puck possession and had a second chance to trigger the shot with Stalberg laying prone on the ice holding his face.
The language and intent of the rule is not designed to penalize a player who accidentally misfired on a shot but as the rule states for "a wild swing at a bouncing puck." While I can appreciate the Officials perspective on the play no penalty was warranted on Mike Richards' normal follow through of his shooting motion.
First off I really enjoy your column!
A rule clarification question. I am watching the Leafs-Bruins game and there was a scrum after the whistle when Marchand clearly took a shot after the whistle, a player from each team went off but Marchand didn't receive a penalty for the obvious unsportsmanlike play. I don't know that I have ever seen it called but I believe there is a rule on this play. Can you clarify this for me? Thanks!
Trevor: When a player shoots the puck 'well' after the whistle he is subject to an unsportsmanlike conduct minor penalty or misconduct for attempting to incite an opponent into incurring a penalty. Typically the minor penalty should be assessed first followed by the misconduct if he persists. (Rule 75.4) Shooting the puck after the whistle falls into the same category as snowing the goalkeeper or a face wash in a scrum and would have to be deemed deliberate (well after the whistle) before a penalty is assessed.
Last night in Boston with the score tied and less than seven minutes remaining in regulation time Brad Marchand carried the puck over the Leafs blue line.
Just prior to the whistle blowing for the offside Marchand had shifted his weight in a shooting posture and pulled the puck back for a shot. The whistle blew for the offside and Marchand completed his intended shot. It would be determined by the Referees that Marchand was in the act of shooting the puck and therefore not deserving of a penalty.
The fact that Brad Marchand is thought of as an agitator by opponents around the League and shot the puck after the whistle blew drew a crowd of Leafs led by Captain Dion Phaneuf. As the scrum developed Andrew Ference of the Bruins and Phaneuf became the major participants in the dustup and were assessed coincidental roughing minors.
Prior to the implementation of the unsportsmanlike conduct penalty I have assessed 10 minute misconducts to players that deliberately shot the puck after the whistle. On occasion it was at an opposing skater and not at the goalkeeper. On another such incident in the late '80's I assessed a misconduct penalty to a player that turned his body 90 degrees toward the opposing teams bench and fired a slap shot at a mouthy coach. The coach bailed and the puck hit the protective glass behind the players' bench without doing any damage. The linesmen rushed the shooter into the penalty bench before the cavalry mounted an attack!