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Hi Mr. Fraser,
When I was watching the Heritage Classic in Vancouver there was a play midway through the third where Ottawa crashed the Canucks net and it came off its moorings. A Canuck picked up the puck, went the other way and the play was only whistled down when an Ottawa player touched it. I was wondering if there is anything keeping the Canuck goalie from going to the bench for an extra skater since in some ways it's almost like a delayed Ottawa penalty?
We welcome you all the way from Singapore! Your suggestion qualifies you as a hockey rules visionary and places you in a unique category that would include the late, great coach and friend, Roger Neilson. 'Rog' always thought outside the box as you have done with your question here in an effort to use the rules to his team's advantage.
In the situation you propose, there is virtually no risk for a legal goal being scored against the non-offending team should the goalkeeper skate to his players' bench in favor of an extra attacker. This would include any similar situation we saw earlier this season where Patrick Kane put the puck into his own net with the goalkeeper removed for an extra attacker on delayed penalty call. This is verified by the fact that video review can determine if a puck has been put in the net prior to the goal frame being dislodged. If through some misadventure this were to occur the goal would be disallowed. (Situations Subject to Video Review; rule 38.4 - ii).
Before blasting off to the bench however, I would caution the goalkeeper to make sure that the net is completely off its moorings as defined by rule 78.4 and in the event that the referee should allow play to continue.
From rule 78.4: "The goal frame shall be considered in its proper position when at least a portion of the flexible peg(s) are still inside both the goal post and the hole in the ice. The flexible pegs could be bent, but as long as at least a portion of the flexible peg(s) are still in the hole in the ice and the goal post, the goal frame shall be deemed to be in its proper position. The goal frame could be raised somewhat on one post (or both), but as long as the flexible pegs are still in contact with the holes in the ice and the goal posts, the goal frame shall not be deemed to be displaced."
(The NHL rule is contrary to the IIHF definition of net off the moorings. We saw evidence of this in Sochi with Fedor Tyutin's potentially game winning goal in the Russia-U.S.A. game being disallowed when Jonathan Quick bumped the post causing it to move back and off its set location but still in contact with the rubber pegs and the hole in the ice.)
Here's a hypothetical to also consider on a play of this nature. If the pegs happened to remain in contact with the post and the hole in the ice (deemed in its proper position as per 78.4), should the goalkeeper deliberately push the net completely off the moorings prior to skating he could be subject to a delay of game penalty. Additionally, the goalkeeper should make certain the referee did not relocate the net in its proper position in an effort to sustain play prior to skating to his bench for an extra attacker.
'Captain Video,' as Roger Neilson was referred to for his cutting edge, innovative use of video for game analysis, would be proud of your coaching suggestion Phil. Several rule changes were implemented as a result of Roger's knowledge of the rules and his ability to think outside the box. Only a goalkeeper is allowed defend a penalty shot after Roger placed a defenceman in the net and had him charge the shooter. A goal is now awarded if the goalkeeper places his stick across the goal line prior to going to the bench for an extra attacker and the stick prevents a puck from entering the unattended net. You can credit Roger for that rule as well.
Towel waving by fans goes back to the 1982 Stanley Cup Playoff game in Chicago when Roger tied a white towel to a hockey stick and "surrendered" to referee Bob Myers. Roger and three of his players were rightly ejected from the game by the referee but it turned the series around and ignited the Canuck fans with a tradition of towel waiving that remains to this day! Under Coach Neilson the Canucks advanced to the 1982 Stanley Cup Final.
In a very classy move by the Ottawa Senators (and then head coach Jacques Martin), Martin stepped aside for the final two games of the 2001-02 regular season to allow Roger Neilson, an Ottawa assistant, to be the coach of record and gain credit for his 1,000'th NHL game. When the final horn sounded it was my honor as the referee in that game to embrace Coach Roger Neilson on the ice and offer my sincere congratulations in honor of his 1,000th NHL game. Roger was humble and gracious as always.
On November 4, 2002 Roger Neilson was inducted into the Builders Category of the Hockey Hall of Fame. On June 21, 2003 Roger Neilson passed at the age of 69 and following his battle with cancer.