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Fraser: Goalie interference on Rangers' goal in Game 6?

Kerry Fraser
5/10/2012 1:10:31 PM
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Got a question on rule clarification, comments on rule enforcements or some memorable NHL stories? Kerry Fraser wants to answer your emails at cmonref@tsn.ca!

Kerry,

On Marian Gaborik's goal with less than a minute left, shouldn't goaltender interference have been called? What parameters were met/not met for that goal to be allowed?

Tom Handy,
Toronto

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Hey Kerry, can you give me your take on the goalie interference on Braden Holtby late in Game 6?

Thanks. 

Craig Boden

Tom and Craig:

We have moved from the absurdity of not allowing a goal to stand if a player had his toe on the crease line to the more difficult task for referee to determine the degree and nature of contact with the goalkeeper (video link) (incidental or deliberate) and if the contact was as a result of or initiated by the defending player.

The premise of rule 69 - interference on the goalkeeper is stated as, "The overriding rationale of this rule is that the goalkeeper should have the ability to move freely within his goal crease without being hindered by the actions of an attacking player." This appears to very clear until you factor in, "If an attacking player has been pushed, shoved, or fouled by a defending player so as to cause him to come into contact with the goalkeeper, such contact will not be deemed contact initiated by the attacking player for purposes of this rule, provided the attacking player has made a reasonable effort to avoid such contact."

The reason that this goal was allowed to stand and the same reason that I would have allowed it under the existing rule is contained in the following language of rule 69.2 - "In exercising his judgment, the Referee should give more significant consideration to the degree and nature of the contact with the goalkeeper than to the exact location of the goalkeeper at the time of the contact."

What this rule is 'not so clearly' telling us is that while the goalie should have the ability to move freely within his crease without being hindered by the actions of an attacking player, contact with the goalkeeper is allowed depending upon the degree and nature of it.

As I watched this play, Caps defenceman John Carlson engaged and fronted Rangers forward Carl Hagelin. Both players continued to back towards the crease as Carlson locked his arm on Hagelin's stick in an effort to contain and maintain close contact with Hagelin. Both Carlson and Hagelin were focused on the puck in front of them as they continue to establish their respective positions in backward motion.

Braden Holtby assumed his desired butterfly position more outside of his goal crease than inside of it to play the impending shot. (A portion of his right pad and leg remained just inside the top of the goal crease.) Given the degree of contact (minor) and the nature of the contact with Carlson locked on Hagelin as both players continue to back toward the crease I would have allowed this goal to stand. It is also worth noting that once Hagelin felt contact with Holtby's stick from behind he immediately turned his body to avoid continued contact. This falls in line with "provided the attacking player has made a reasonable effort to avoid such contact."

I concur with the referees call on this bang-bang play for all the above reasons. This was nothing like the illegal contact by Mike Knuble on Tim Thomas on the winning goal in overtime of Game 7 in the Caps-Bruins series. 

Don't hold your breath on my next thought.  Until the rule becomes black and white or changed to clearly state that a goal will be disallowed through any form of contact with the goalkeeper by an attacking player the referee will be called upon to exercise his judgment as to the degree and nature of contact that can be allowed.  I concur with Referee Wes McCauley's judgment on this play as to the degree and nature of the contact.

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 cmonref@tsn.ca!


You can also follow Kerry Fraser on Twitter at @kfraserthecall!

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