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Love this column, find it very informative!
My question involves Zac Rinaldo's game misconduct late in the second period of Game 4. Now I understand the two minutes for roughing and the two minutes for cross-checking, also I understand the ten-minute misconduct penalty but I was under the impression that a game misconduct was only given to a player that committed a major or match penalty in a game. Could you clear up the reason as to why the game misconduct in this case and maybe give an example or two of a game misconduct handed out following a double minor so to speak.
Cape Cod, MA
Thank you for this great question. Following Game 3 of this same Flyer-Penguins series I wrote and talked at length about the need for the referees to feel the temperature of the game and respond accordingly. I suggested that prior to the flash point being reached in a game the refs should be proactive when called upon to exert control.
Referees Wes McCauley and Chris Lee did exactly that in Game 4 yesterday from start to finish. McCauley recognized that with the score 9-3 in the Pens favour Zac Rinaldo wasn't attempting to tie or win the game at 16:43 of the second period when Rinaldo mugged Zbynek Michalek right in front of the referee. This was not an overreaction by McCauley but a perfect response (Check out the video) to remove a player from the game based on his actions to incite an altercation in the moment or in the future. Player hostilities would have only intensified if the official had not responded as he did.
If you want to look for rule justification beyond the common sense and good judgment that referee Wes McCauley exhibited I refer you to rule 75 - unsportsmanlike conduct;
75.4 - Misconduct iii) Any player who persists in any course of conduct (including threatening or abusive gestures or similar actions designed to incite an opponent into incurring a penalty.
75.5 - Game Misconduct i) If a player persists in any course of conduct for which he was previously assessed a misconduct penalty.
46.5 - continuing or attempting to continue a fight (or altercation): Any player who persists in continuing or attempting to continue a fight or altercation after he has been ordered by the Referee to stop…, at the discretion of the referee, incur a misconduct or game misconduct penalty in addition to any penalties imposed.
Excellent discretion was utilized by the referee to act swiftly and remove Rinaldo from the game given the circumstance surrounding the player's actions.
After Rinaldo cross checked, roughed and finished with a two glove push/punch to Michalek's face he stood over the fallen Penguin with back to the boards and awaited any and all challengers. This certainly falls under the category of continuing an altercation and inciting!
The officials were obviously directed to tighten their standard of enforcement across the board following previous incidents in practically every series. The whistle was brought out of the pocket yesterday following Raffi Torres' illegal hit on Marian Hossa the night before as the Chicago star was carted off the ice on a stretcher clad in neck brace.
The need for added control was not only reflected in this somber moment but the fact that Raffi Torres sat on his player's bench as opposed to the penalty box or preferably his dressing room with a game ejection following this illegal hit. Raffi Torres is suspended indefinitely pending an in person hearing with Brendan Shanahan and the Player Safety Committee tomorrow.
Seven of thirteen goals in the Flyers-Pens game came on the power play; three of five scored in Ottawa-Rangers tilt. The stage was set early as the first penalty was correctly signaled by McCauley just 17 seconds into the game when Steve Sullivan caught Claude Giroux with a high stick. It took 39 seconds in Ottawa for Zack Smith to be sent off for boarding Ryan McDonagh of the Rangers. Both penalties resulted in power play goals and set the tone that player discipline should be the order of the day.
I anticipate we will continue to see a more consistent standard of officiating in each series without an overcorrection taking place. The onus is on the players and the coaches to exert discipline as they seek to play on the edge and find the line drawn in the sand by the referee community. Players will still be allowed to compete hard with playoff intensity; just in a more controlled and safer environment. After all, that is what the rules were designed to provide.
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