NHL

Netcrashing: Should shorthanded rosters be punished?

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Jamie Bell, TSN.ca Staff
10/14/2010 12:40:02 PM
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The Ilya Kovalchuk contract appears to be getting costlier with every passing day.

Due to cap constraints, injuries to forwards Brian Rolston and defenceman Anton Volchenkov, along with a suspension to forward Luc Letourneau-Leblond; the New Jersey Devils iced a team featuring only 15 skaters for a matinee tilt with the Pittsburgh Penguins.  The Devils only dressed nine forwards and six defenceman and in a 3-1 loss to the Pens.

While there were healthy players available to call up from the Devils farm team in Albany, due to the team's close proximity to the NHL's mandated $59.4 million salary cap, New Jersey was unable to ice a full roster that would fit under the cap.

"It's not something we like to see," Devils' president and general manager Lou Lamoriello told NorthJersey.com. "But it is what it is today. That's the way it will be."

Although it is not necessarily illegal to ice a short-handed roster, it presents many difficulties and could potentially be dangerous if any injuries occur to an already depleted lineup.

According to article 16.4 of the collective bargaining agreement: "Except in case of emergency, there shall be no reduction of the required minimum Playing Rosters of the Clubs, below eighteen (18) skaters and two (2) goaltenders."

While technically the Devils situation is not classified as an emergency, it appears as though there will be no supplementary punishment dealt out by the NHL.

"Emergencies have historically included games missed due to player injury, games missed due to player suspension and games missed due to roster/cap situations. This is not an unprecedented situation. It has happened before, both pre- and post-lockout," NHL Deputy commissioner Bill Daly told TSN.

Daly may have been referring to the situation that the Calgary Flames faced during the 2008-09 season when they played their final five games of the season shorthanded.

The Flames lineup had been decimated by injuries to defencemen Mark Giordano, Rhett Warrener, Dion Phaneuf, Robyn Regehr and Adrian Aucoin as well as forwards Rene Bourque, Andre Roy, Wayne Primeau and Curtis Glencross.  Because of this, they played one game with one player below the limit, two games with two players player below the limit and another two with three players below the limit, losing three of the five contests.

Meanwhile the Vancouver Canucks won their final three games of the season to pass the Flames and claim the Northwest Division title.  Instead of a first round playoff date with the Blues as the third seed in the West, the Flames instead dropped to fifth in the Conference standings and were eliminated in the first round by the Chicago Blackhawks.

Obviously the situation differs as it was the final five games of the season for the Flames while the Devils are playing short-handed only three games in to the current campaign.

While it my be too early in the season to discuss the playoff implications; the Devils have gotten out of the gate slowly and are winless to start the season.
 
Considering the team has Stanley Cup aspirations a slow start could be devastating to the team's hopes of capturing the Atlantic Division title and potentially an easier first round playoff matchup.

So what can the NHL do to prevent this situation from occurring?  Should teams get fined?  Should they be docked points?  Or perhaps it should be allowed.

Our question for you in this edition of Netcrashing is the following: 'Should the NHL punish teams that deliberately ice a short-handed roster?'

Let your opinions be known in our 'Your Call' feature below.

Devils bench (Photo: Andy Marlin/NHLI via Getty Images)

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(Photo: Andy Marlin/NHLI via Getty Images)
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