Fraser: Why Alzner wasn't tagged as the third man in

Kerry Fraser
4/17/2012 3:10:16 PM
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This question is in regards to Milan Lucic's four-minute penalty in the third period on Monday night. Now I understand with the call on Lucic, but what I don't understand is that Karl Alzner looked to me that he was the third man in. Lucic and Matt Hendricks were throwing fists and Alzner came in from behind and handcuffed Lucic.  Why wasn't Alzner penalized for his actions?

Thanks in advance.
Chris Pettapiece,
Atwood, ON


The game misconduct for "third man in" under rule 46.16 (Fighting) was seldom applied during the course of this regular season; even in cases that appeared obvious. Although an "altercation" for the purpose of this rule is defined as "a situation involving two players with at least one to be penalized" it is generally accepted that a fight must exist for this rule to be enforced, if at all. 

In a roughing situation where a 'three-way hate triangle' escalates such as the one last night involving Milan Lucic with Karl Alzner and Matt Hendricks of the Washington Capitals they are often treated as separate roughing incidents.  Most often sound judgment is utilized in these situations to keep players in the game that often act as "peacemakers" to prevent a full blown fight from resulting.  Last night the officials did exactly that. The only additional penalty I would have imposed in this altercation would have been a roughing minor to Karl Alzner for grabbing Lucic from behind as tempers escalated and fists started to fly.

If you watch the start of this play Alzner gave Lucic a shove with his stick from behind as play stopped in front of the Caps goal. Lucic turned to respond to Alzner but was engage by Hendricks. The "triangle" had already been formed.

The linesmen were quick to get into the scrum that developed but Milan Lucic, when angered, is one tough customer to contain. Alzner perhaps decided the linesmen needed a little help or wanted to continue his initial attempt at engaging the Bruin power forward. The reason matters not but when Karl Alzner grabbed Lucic around the head I would treat it as a separate roughing incident and have given him a two minute penalty as well but certainly not a game misconduct.

Chris, I hope this addresses your desire that Alzner should have been penalized for his actions in the altercation.

Now I received a second question from Steve in Chateauguay which I would like to briefly respond to. 

Steve wrote: Kerry - How did the NHL go from, in the words of Todd McLellan, "borderline chaos" over the weekend to a measure of control Monday?

This is great insight on your part, Steve. There was no "borderline chaos" in the games Monday night and you need look no farther than the referees' collective performance to find the answer to your question. Maybe someone is listening after all!

A conscience effort and apparent adjustment was made by the refs that worked in each game to be assertive and proactive when the game called for it. As suggested from my column yesterday, the referees had a good handle on the game temperature and applied a much more consistent standard of enforcement.

While they didn't overreact to hard legal hits, for the most part they did react appropriately to infractions that needed to be called. This response had a settling effect on the game as players were allowed to compete hard but recognized they would be punished and their team put at a disadvantage when they broke the rules. Instead of borderline chaos players demonstrated more discipline to stay out of the penalty box. Their leash was shortened by the referees and the players responded.

Overall an "A" performance by the team in stripes last night. Good job. The test continues...

For a personally autographed copy of Final Call from TSN hockey analyst and former NHL referee Kerry Fraser, visit The Book Keeper website.

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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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