Fraser: Knocking the net off and sunbelt hockey

Kerry Fraser
12/21/2011 5:01:37 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,

Big fan of the column...keep up the great insights!  Watching the Coyotes and Panthers game last night, there was an unusual play in which the Panthers were awarded a penalty shot in the final minute, when Martin Hanzal knocked the net off while trying to swat the puck away from the net. It did appear as if he intentionally knocked the net off...but I thought the most the referee could call in this case was a delay of game penalty?

Thankfully the ice was in poor condition on that penalty shot! Labarbera got some nice help from the goal line on that shot!

I would also be curious to hear your opinion on hockey in the desert?  Do you think it can work?

Thanks and go Coyotes!

Mike from Saskatoon


There was certainly enough evidence to convict Martin Hanzal of deliberately knocking the net off the moorings when he took his left hand and pushed and lifted on the crossbar. Normally a minor penalty for delay of game would be assessed under rule 63 unless; "If by reason of insufficient time in the regular playing time or by reason of penalties already imposed, the minor penalty assessed to a player for deliberately displacing his own goal post cannot be served in its entirety within the regular playing time of the game or at any time in overtime, a penalty shot shall be awarded against the offending team."

The correct call was made by referee, Dean Morton and Florida coach, Kevin Dineen was able to select a player that was on the ice at the time of the infraction to take the penalty shot.  Stephen Weiss, who is having a great season attacked Phoenix goalkeeper, Jason LaBarbera with speed and slide the puck through the five-hole as many of the 17,711 fans in attendance held their breath. If the puck crossed the line that goal would tie the game with just 25 seconds remaining in regulation time. 

In Monday's column I answered Mark Milliere's question about his son Matt, the goaltender who piled snow in his goal crease and was issued a penalty warning from the referee. At least one of you suggested in blog comments that a pile of snow should not stop a shot from going in the net.

(IGGYFORPM1 - 2 days ago)

If a pile of snow can stop your shot from going in, you never really deserved to score that goal in the first place, did you?

Well "IGGY" check the 'viz' posted here (video link) on the Weiss shot and you will see that some rough ice and a little buildup of snow caused the puck to make an abrupt stop on goal line. While it wasn't of avalanche proportions the snow kept the puck from crossing the line.

Mike, I truly hope that NHL hockey can survive in a beautiful oasis in the desert but the odds don't look too promising. (You might be holding onto hope that if the market in Phoenix goes totally dry, Saskatoon might just be considered as a relocation site?)

I remember talking with Phil Esposito at the 1990 Stanley Cup Final in Boston where he was pitching an NHL expansion franchise to be placed in Tampa. While my more traditional hockey mentality looked to cold weather markets for guaranteed success, Phil had facts and figures on the number of "Snow Birds" that vacationed, took up residency during the winter or relocated to South Florida that would form the nucleus of fan support.

Phil told me he had major investors from Japan that were willing to bankroll the operation.  I was curious why the Japanese businessmen were interested in obtaining an NHL franchise, for of all places Florida, and Espo said he pitched "hockey" and the Japanese thought he said "sake" and they were immediately all in!  

Expansion to the State of Florida proved successful in two nontraditional hockey markets when the "rats" took Florida by storm as the Panthers marched to the Cup final in 1996 and lighting struck in game 7 of 2004 with the Stanley Cup presentation by Gary Bettman at center ice in the Tampa Arena.

Phoenix has been described as the Florida of the west and similarly its population swells during the winter months but it is going to take much more than a large influx of cold blooded hockey fans to guarantee success in the desert.

Competition for the family and corporate entertainment dollar has only intensified in our current soft economy.  Teams in nontraditional hockey markets have been through some lean years at the box office or ultimately failed and had to be relocated (yeah Winnipeg).  Icing a winning and completive team does not always ensure success in this regard as we have seen in Phoenix.

Stability of ownership is where success begins and filters down through team management, its players and into the community. Obviously the NHL and the Coyotes have a big ownership issue to solve before any stability in that market can be hoped for.   

Phoenix has an outstanding hockey operations management team in place led by G.M. Don Maloney along with Dave Tippett and staff from behind the bench. Their players compete hard every game and are tough to play against. This group is doing everything they can to survive in the absence of solid ownership. 

While they are highly competitive on the ice the fact remains that the Coyotes are dead last in average attendance (10,969 or 64.1 percent of capacity) after 16 home games. These are the kind of numbers that Atlanta struggled with before relocating to a colder, fan frenzy climate.

The Jobing.com Arena in Glendale is really a top notch facility but not easy to get to from Scottsdale.  The drive in heavy traffic always reminded me of travelling from downtown Ottawa to Kanata for a Senators game.

There is a distinct difference here however; Ottawa is a traditional hockey market while Phoenix isn't. Loyal fans will drive through a snowstorm on the one road to Kanata to watch their beloved Sens play. Casual fans in Phoenix will generally avoid braving the heavy traffic in sunny weather to watch a team that they are not sure will be there much longer.

No matter how much community involvement the Coyotes attempt to draw upon, little can be accomplished until the ownership issue has been solved. 

I invite all Coyotes fans to give us your take on what will save this franchise (especially those that live near the epicentre in Glendale/Phoenix).  Without your hands-on involvement and support the equipment bags will be packed and the caravan will be heading elsewhere.

We can be sure of one thing. If a move does take place, the Coyotes won't be heading south for the winter.

Martin Hanzal (Photo: Norm Hall/NHLI via Getty Images)


(Photo: Norm Hall/NHLI via Getty Images)
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