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Hi Kerry - Seeing as this game was broadcast nationally (U.S.) you're likely to hear a bunch about it: With 2:30 left in the 2nd period on Saturday afternoon in Boston, Jiri Tlusty of the Hurricanes beat Bruins captain Zdeno Chara up the ice on a fast-break and had a clear breakaway on Bruins goaltender Chad Johnson - Chara then reached around and chopped down on Tlusty's stick from behind just as he was going into his shooting motion, causing the stick to snap in two. No call was made on the play. We've seen slashing calls made when players simply drop their sticks - what's your assessment? Why the no-call?
Tyler in Phoenix.
The overriding factor for a slashing penalty to be assessed is defined in rule 61 as "a forceful or powerful chop with the stick". The referee must determine if (in his judgment) the "chop" was of sufficient force to cause the stick to break or if in fact the stick broke "accidentally" through some potential defect. We have seen composite graphite sticks that break with very minimal contact.
Why no call you asked? In this case the referee must have determined that the downward chop by Zdeno Chara was not forceful or powerful enough to cause the stick of Jiri Tlusty to break as he was about to trigger a shot on a clear breakaway.
Now let me provide my assessment on the play. Zdeno Chara is really a strong man; perhaps the strongest I ever encountered in my 30 season in the NHL. Given the force 'Big Z' generated with the downward chop of his stick (particularly at the finish) it is most reasonable to assume Jiri Tlusty's stick broke as a result. A penalty shot should have been assessed to restore Tlusty's lost scoring opportunity.
Whenever a player is on a clear breakaway (no player to pass except the goalkeeper) a referee must be extremely alert to any potential foul from behind that would cause any loss of a reasonable scoring opportunity. A hook, trip or even a push from behind that causes the attacker to miss his scoring opportunity must be rewarded with a penalty shot.
Just as Jiri Tlusty was in motion to shoot the puck Zdeno Chara made a swing with his stick in desperation from a position well behind the shooter. Clear contact was made above the blade of Tlusty's stick resulting in a clean snap of the shaft and ultimately the loss of a scoring opportunity.
I have called penalty shots for much less!