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Dreger: Touch penalties drive players crazy

Darren Dreger
11/19/2008 9:46:38 PM
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It's the touch penalties - hooking when a player's stick taps an opposing player's glove or hip, or holding when a player's free hand touches his competitor - that drive coaches, managers and players crazy.

NHL traditionalists believe a hook or hold means a player has been restrained. Yet, the standard established three seasons ago is clearly less than that, and it has GMs talking.

As one general manager summarized, "There has been more complaining about officiating among GMs this year than in recent years.”

Colin Campbell, the NHL Sr. Executive Vice President of Hockey Operations, understands the teams' frustrations, telling TSN, "We hear the complaints and have conversations about the hooking calls - and what constitutes a hook - all the time." 

Campbell added, "Players have learned and the game has changed for the better, but in accomplishing this there have been some calls in games that need some adjustment."

According to Stephen Walkom, the NHL's Director of Officiating, there have been games this season affected by overzealous refs, but he says that's the exception, not the rule.

This issue has been discussed at general managers' meetings before and will be on the agenda when the group reconvenes in March.

Hooking Penalties by Season
Season      No.
2003-04     274
2005-06     1,052
2006-07     931
2007-08     689
2008-09*    701
*Through 267 games

Through 267 games this season there have been 701 hooking penalties called, considerably fewer than the 1052 hooking calls made in 2005-2006, the first post-lockout season, but two-and-a-half times more than the 274 hooking penalties called pre-lockout in 2003-2004.

Powerplays produce goals and scoring sells, so try as they might; lessening the standard makes for good debate, but it's unlikely to happen.


Darren Dreger

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