Fraser: 'Puck over the glass' rule should be discretionary

Kerry Fraser
5/17/2013 3:32:03 PM
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Hi Kerry,
The delay of game penalty for sending the puck over the glass -  I get the penalty, but after the San Jose Sharks went down two players late in Game 2 and essentially lost because of it, what do you think about maybe putting off the delay of game penalty if the offending team is on the penalty kill? It would be along the same vein as having no icing on the penalty kill.
What do you think?
Bernard Seo


I, like you, get the penalty. I understand the theory of the rule when it was implemented; create more offence through sustained pressure by the attacking team when the puck can't be dumped over the boards by the defending team to kill the play. In practice, I don't know of too many hockey people or fans that like the rule and believe it should be changed. You can include me in this list!

The puck over glass rule was first initiated to keep goalies that were adept at puck handling skills such as Martin Brodeur from relieving pressure by shooting the puck over the glass. Then general manager of the New York Rangers Neil Smith posed to his colleagues around the table the unfairness if the rule exclusively targeted goalkeepers that had to execute a shot with their big gloves and sticks. If the rule was going to be adopted, it only made sense to include forwards and defencemen whose job it was to pass and shoot the puck with less encumbered tools of the trade. The automatic penalty to be received when a non-deflected puck was shot or batted over the glass was thought to force defending players to attempt a skilled play to move the puck.

Every other rule in the book allows for referee discretion to determine the existence of an infraction, along with the varying degrees at the referee's disposal to implement the final assessment ranging from a minor, double minor, major or match penalty. Aside from determining if the puck is deflected, the referee's discretion is nonexistent when it come to Rule 63.2 — Delaying the Game; Puck over the glass!
We have seen more than one playoff game determined when a player accidentally put the puck over the glass to incur a penalty. It matters not if the puck was rolling and unsettled or the ice was bad and contributed to the flight of the puck. It's the only rule that I can honestly say is simply 'Black and White'!

It was very disconcerting for me to see obvious infractions that went uncalled in deciding games and particularly Game 7's that were played in the previous round. These 'discretionary calls' ranged from body slams to majors for elbowing, cross-checks from behind or a major cross-check infraction to the face (minor called), attempted slew-foot, goalkeeper retaliation with a blocker strike to an opponent's head, charging, and boarding. The referee 'discretion' implemented at times pretty much ran the gambit with a "let them play" mentality.
While I'm not suggesting that this poor standard of enforcement is in any way acceptable, it further demonstrates the absurdity of the puck over glass rule as it now exists. Regardless of anything and everything that the referees chose not to call, a puck over glass is the singularly most guaranteed infraction that would be called at any time in the game, including overtime! Think about the absurdity of that scenario.

Two things need to done. First, get the referees to enforce the expected standard in as consistent a manner as humanly possible throughout a game and the series. Next, make Rule 63.2 a discretionary call, just like all the rest. If the referee deems the action of a defending player shooting the puck over the glass to be deliberate, then assess a delay of game penalty.

I much prefer the NCAA rule where a defending team is not allowed to make a line change similar to icing when they shoot the puck over the glass from within their defending zone and it is deemed unintentional/accidental.

Until a sensible approach is taken by the NHL to implement a rule change, we just might witness more of the 'let 'em play, let 'em cheat' discretionary standard applied. That is until, God forbid, a player accidentally shoots or bats the puck over the glass from his defending zone! No discretion can be applied to that call.

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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