Fraser: Malhotra and the 'distinct kicking motion'

Kerry Fraser
2/21/2012 4:01:53 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,

The Canucks' Manny  Malhotra got a disallowed goal last night for kicking it into the net against the Oilers. I saw the replay and I have no idea what a "distinct kicking motion" is if that was deemed it. There was a game earlier this year against Nashville where Sergei Kostitsyn had way more of a kicking motion and that was counted as a goal. This rule is ridiculous and I feel that no one knows what is a goal or is not one. It felt like the officials in Toronto reversed the called goal on the ice because it was already 2-0 and if it was 3-0, then the game would be completely over. 
C'mon Ref.... we all know that the Canucks didn't need any more goals Sunday night against the Oilers in their 5-2 victory, but is that any reason for the booth in Toronto to disallow Manny Malhotra's skate-blade deflection into the Edmonton net?
My understanding is a goal off the skate or leg is only disallowed if the player performs a 'distinct kicking motion' with the leg that deflects the puck in.  Pretty clearly (I think we can all agree), Malhotra was in a sliding-blade hockey stop or turning motion.  Have the goal judges in Toronto decided to redefine the English language definition of a "distinct kicking motion," or was this a case of bias against the Canucks, or a case of some other facet of the rule I don't know about?  I have seen many goals scored the exact same way as Malhotra's and still get counted as goals even after a review.
I love your column and your explanations are generally crystal-clear...can't wait to hear the ruling on this one.  Keep up the good work!
"Angry Mike"
Please explain the rule with respects to the puck entering the net after hitting an offensive players skate. On February 7, Sergei Kostitsyn was awarded a good goal after clearing directing the puck into the net with his skate. Last week, Ryan Getzlaf had a goal disallowed when he appeared to direct the puck into the net with his skate. Yesterday, Manny Malhotra had a goal disallowed when the puck entered the net after a rebound hit his skate and either bounced into the net or was directed into the net. What is the actual rule; does it have to be a "distinct kicking motion" or "if you direct the puck with your skate" into the net to result in NO Goal.
Based on the three examples I have given I do not understand the rule.

Ben, "Angry Mike" and Larry:

Once the League changed rule 49.2 to allow pucks to be directed (vs. deflected) into the net using a players skate with anything short of a "distinct kicking motion" the parameters widened for not only allowing more goals but the potential for inconsistency through the review process.

I reviewed each of the three goals that you referenced and will give you my ruling on them at the end of the column. First, let me provide you with the criteria used to determine kicked pucks and if, in fact, the puck entered the net as a result of a "Distinct Kicking Motion."

What I provide you is not opinion but the exact language and script from the NHL produced DVD that was sent to the teams, officials and media when rule 49.2 was redefined to its current state. The following text appeared in the DVD along with footage examples of good goals and disallowed goals.  Take this information to the net with you!

DVD Script/Content:

"Several Criteria are used to determine kicked pucks and if the puck entered the net as a result of a distinct kicking motion:

1)  Did force made by movement of skate propel puck into net or did skate just change direction of puck?
2)  What direction was the player's skate travelling in when it made contact? Was it moving in direction of net?
3)  What direction was the player's skate travelling in when it made contact? Was it moving in direction of net?
4)  In what direction was the player facing when the puck reached his skate?

Directed Puck:

A puck that enters the net after making contact with an attacking player's skate with enough force to enter net on its own.

The contact with the players skate can change the direction of the puck but the players skate cannot propel or give additional force to the puck in the direction to the net.

Distinct Kicking Motion:

Is a puck that is propelled in the direction of the net, providing the puck with additional force rather than relying on the force of the puck prior to contact with the skate."

I looked at all examples demonstrated on my copy of the six minute League issued DVD on rule 49.2 - Kicking the puck. The very first example of a legal direction deemed to be a good goal was put into the net with a turned skate by Daniel Alfredsson almost identical to the one that was disallowed on Manny Malhotra. Manny does make an ever so slight movement forward with his skate as he turns it to direct the puck but not one that I would categorize as anything that would resemble a distinct kicking motion.

If I was reviewing Manny Malhotra's goal (Watch The Video Here) I would have deemed it a legal direction and allowed the goal to stand in agreement with the call made on the ice by referee, Chris Lee.

Another example deemed a good goal on the DVD was far worse in terms of skate movement and has to be on the outer edge of the allowable criteria. Mats Sundin was moving across top of the goal crease in front of Cam Ward. The puck came to his skates on a pass from the side.  Mats lifted and turned his left skate almost 90 degrees as he continued to move across the crease facing the side boards. With his skate still slightly in motion from the foot turn the puck was redirected between the pads/five-hole of Ward. Using this generous and liberal criterion there is no question that Malhotra's goal should have counted.

Sergei Kostitsyn's angled skate was a legal direction.  The correct call was made through the review process to allow the goal to stand as per the rule.

Ryan Getzlaf deliberately kicked his skate out to the right and contacted the puck as his stick was being tied up by Anton Volchenkov of the Devils.  This deliberate action by Getzlaf propelled the puck into the net.  Although the kicking gesture was not exaggerated I deem this to be a "distinct kicking motion."

The correct decision was made to disallow this potential game winning goal in overtime.

In my judgment two of the three rulings were made correctly through video review process on the plays you questioned. Not a bad batting average if you are playing baseball!

It is reasonable to expect that differences in the final decision on a review can result through subjective judgment depending upon who is reviewing the play.

I continue to maintain that the referee on the ice is the one that should make the final ruling on this play (and other allowable video review situations) utilizing a monitor located at ice level. Short of this the "War Room" should be staffed with at least one former NHL Referee that made his living determining these types of calls. There are several retired NHL officials that live in the Toronto and surrounding area that might be interested in the job.

Perceived accuracy aside, I guarantee it will take less time for the referee or a former referee to render a decision. I reviewed each of these plays on Game Center Live, rendered my decision, went to the kitchen and poured myself a coffee and had another donut before the game action resumed following video review.

The word 'Distinct' kicking motion creates a rather clear picture in our minds as to what it would take to disallow a goal through this type of action. I hope that the DVD language/criteria I provided will assist you in determining legal goals in your mind that result from a player's skate - human error aside of course.  

Don't be 'angry' with me Mike, I'm just the messenger.

Manny Malhotra (Photo: Jeff Vinnick/NHLI via Getty Images)


(Photo: Jeff Vinnick/NHLI via Getty Images)
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