Fraser: Defining the rule for an injury stoppage in play

Kerry Fraser
6/7/2013 4:43:07 PM
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Hi Kerry,
When Gregory Campbell was injured blocking the shot in Game 4, the referees correctly allowed the play to continue while Pittsburgh had control. I thought they might have stopped play when Campbell later deflected a pass, but didn't maintain control.  Could you define the rule for an injury stoppage in play?
Larry Powell
In Wednesday night's Boston/Penguins game, Gregory Campbell blocked a shot that seriously injured him. Why didn't Campbell stay down and draw a whistle? He was quite useless out there so I'm assuming there must be a rule about that?
Steve McCarthy

Larry and Steve:

Far too often we see players feigning injury and embellishing contact in an effort to draw penalties. Gregory Campbell showed the heart of a lion when he got up off the deck after throwing his body in front of the shot that broke his leg, ending his playoff season.

Campbell had to realize the significance of the injury he sustained on that shot block. If his central nervous system didn't relay a quick message of the break it would only take a split second of weight bearing when the leg totally shut down for him to know the full extent. What his body forced him to give in to his heart would not!

For the sake of his teammates, Campbell attempted to defend with all that he had left; even if it was just on one leg. Campbell deserves our highest praise and respect for the "old school" toughness he demonstrated by refusing to lay down and quit when his job wasn't yet completed. The Bruins will surely miss this warrior.

While it obviously isn't in this player's nature to lie down and hope for a whistle to blow, the fact that Campbell was in a shooting lane and vulnerable to further injury could cause the referee to consider stopping the play following one initial scoring attempt by the Pens. Early in my career, a player blocked a shot in front of the net and lay on the ice with his back exposed to the point and what I thought had to be a 'stinger'. I allowed play to continue even though the player remained down on the ice. Just as a defenceman at the point was teeing up a slapper I recognized the injured player was in a very vulnerable position right in the line of fire. I was too late with the whistle and the slap shot hit the guy in the back of the helmet! From that moment on I decided the safety of the player was my first responsibility. If the player remained down it was most likely because he just couldn't get up.  At that point, I would not allow him to become a sitting duck in a shooting gallery.

Even though Rule 8.1 says that when a player is injured so that he cannot continue play or go to his bench, the play shall not be stopped until the injured player's team has secured possession of the puck. It also says that in the case where it is obvious that a player has sustained a serious injury, the referee and/or linesman may stop the play immediately.

The officials should not be expected to play doctor when a player is down with an injury. They make their best judgment as to when an injury appears "serious" in nature to immediately stop play. This is done to get medical attention to the injured player as soon as possible and without delay. It doesn't necessarily have to be life-threatening, as in the case of Sabres goalie Clint Malarchuk's throat being slashed by a skate or the frightening eye injury suffered by Bryan Berard. These were extreme and obvious cases where very serious injury had resulted. A sense of urgency will dictate a quick whistle when a player is struck with a puck or skate in the face and/or goes down hard with an apparent head injury.

On the other hand, a lower-body injury that results from a shot block such as Campbell and Niklas Hjalmarsson of the Blackhawks endured does not typically fall into the "serious" category or cause play to be stopped immediately. The caveat to that, I hope, is if the referee recognizes the downed player is subject to further or even greater injury as a result of the inability to defend himself if he can't get to his feet.

Gregory Campbell wasn't waiting to hear a whistle, nor did he probably expect one to be blown. All his heart told him was to defend with all he had left and if necessary, take another one for his team. That's "old school," folks.

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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