Fraser: The lowdown on the Thomas hit on Henrik Sedin

Kerry Fraser
6/7/2011 9:11:33 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!

Hi Kerry,
Regarding the Thomas hit on Sedin - clearly, any player wouldn't be allowed to do the same to Thomas as he did to Sedin in this case. What's the rule regarding goalies laying down hits?
Adam Gough, Ottawa
How is what Tim Thomas did last night not a penalty? For one, it seemed to me like Sedin didn't have the puck yet, so wouldn't that be interference? Not to mention that skaters aren't really allowed to hit goalies when they come out to play the puck, so how can a goalie be allowed to hit a skater? Protecting your crease is one thing, but he was the aggressor in this situation.
Thanks for your time,
Rich Spano
Hi Kerry,
Should Tim Thomas' hit on Henrik Sedin have been a penalty? If the hit Thomas laid on Sedin was not a penalty can you please explain why? 
Thanks, Paul Cafisse

Dear Adam, Rich, Paul and many other fans that enquired about Tim Thomas' body check on Henrik Sedin:
It was only four days ago that I posted a column titled, "What Rights Does Tim Thomas Have Outside the Crease" where I wrote about "the full bundle of rights" that goalkeepers enjoy. Rule 69 - Interference on the Goalkeeper (formerly Protection of the Goalkeeper) consists of almost three pages of what results if a skater makes contact with the goalie either inside or outside of his crease. It is often a disallowed goal, a penalty or both.

Previously, I also wrote about the trapezoid and how goalies were thought to become an endangered species in the '90's if left to being body checked by players. "Special dispensation" was granted to goalkeepers from being even bumped off the puck at that time and granted "no touch" status. In the meeting I attended in the early '90's, Glen Sather rightly stated that Ron Hextall passed the puck as well as any defenceman in the league and perhaps giving him more protection to move the puck maybe wasn't such a good idea. Even though Slats was right on the money, I can't imagine that he would want any player running into his world class goalie, Henrik Lundqvist. The bottom line is they are all "special" and as such are afforded extensive privileges; including Tim Thomas and Roberto Luongo as the last two goalies that remain standing, flopping or body checking!

Correct me if I'm wrong (I know you will) but Thomas was at the top of and inside his goal crease when he lunged forward and checked Henrik Sedin. Sedin was the puck carrier and making a play on goal. The manner in which Thomas pushed/checked the Vancouver twin would be deemed a legal hit if it was any other player making the contact. Timmy didn't punch, trip, slash, rough or utilize any illegal tactic to knock a player deemed to be in possession of the puck to the ice.

Where everyone appears to be getting bent out shape on this is that the goalies have it all their way. If any player had banged into Thomas in that fashion a minor penalty at the very least would be assessed. If Sedin had forgotten about the puck and just plowed into Thomas, a major penalty might also have resulted for charging the goalkeeper.

The standard of enforcement, by virtue of Rule 69, provides special protection for the goalkeeper. It is purely a one-sided situation. That is, unless a goalie uses his blocker/stick as a weapon or violates any of the rules that are mutually shared with other skaters, for which he would be penalized accordingly.

On occasion goalies will continue to do what Thomas did on Monday night simply because they can. Heaven forbid if a player touches them however. Aside from an automatic penalty for goalie interference the cavalry will likely mount a swift attack.

Thomas flattening Sedin, while unusual, wasn't the first time I saw a goalie charge at a player. New York Islanders general manager Garth Snow loved the rough stuff when he was between the pipes. While he wore the big square shoulder pads (that were ultimately banned) to provide more puck stopping area, I also saw him use those pads for knocking players to the ice when they came too close.

Snowy redefined the phrase, "challenging the shooter." On a race for the puck Garth timed his hit when the puck was within reach of his opponent. Rather than a slide to protect the puck or cover it, a cross-body block was often employed to eliminate the attacker. All this was done within the confines of the rules, of course, since it was a race for a loose puck.

In Garth's final season as the Islanders' goalie he and I were waiting for a faceoff in his end zone following a commercial timeout. The Islanders were a struggling team at that point and a pretty frustrated bunch of players.  Snowy said to me, "You want to know a scary thought Frase? Things are going so bad for us right now that I'm the toughest guy we have on this team and I'm the bloody goalie!"

While I laughed I knew that Garth was right. I had seen him in action. Not only was he tough, he really enjoyed the rough stuff. Come to think about it, Henrik Sedin is lucky it was Tim Thomas that flattened him and not Garth Snow.

Does the majority still think that the goalkeepers should be entitled to the "Full Bundle of Protection Rights?"

Snowy probably does now too.

Tim Thomas (Photo: The Canadian Press)


(Photo: The Canadian Press)
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