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As a fellow referee, let me first say how much I appreciated watching you work during your career.
Anyway, my question is regarding the playing with a broken stick rule. In the second period of Wednesday's Devils/Flyers game, Ilya Kovalchuk broke his stick while fanning on a one timer at the top of the left faceoff circle. With the broken shaft of the stick still in his hand, he then kicked the puck forward toward the Flyers net, which led to a Patrick Elias scoring opportunity.
My question is: Was that a violation of the 'playing with a broken stick' rule, or did the on-ice officials miss that one?
Thanks. I enjoy reading your column regularly.
Thank you very much for your kind words and as a regular visitor to C'mon Ref.
Any deliberate attempt by a player to make a play on the puck, check an opponent or participate in the play in any manner while holding a broken stick (or portion thereof) should result in a minor penalty under Rule 10.3. A broken stick is one which, in the opinion of the referee, is unfit for normal play.
The only possible way that Ilya Kovalchuk would not have deserved a penalty on this play would be as a result of the referee determining accidental contact of the puck had been made with Kovalchuk's skate once the stick broke and remained in hand.
As you described the play, Dave, this was not the case and a clear violation of Rule 10.3 - broken stick occurred. The officials missed it.
This is the type of rule violation that doesn't present itself very frequently. Most often the puck is not in the immediate vicinity of a player that has broken his stick and he will drop the broken portion immediately. Referees must be prepared for the unusual rule violations that can occur similarly to the great call that was made by the referee when Matt Stajan played the puck while one of his skates remained in penalty box following the expiration of his penalty. I gave Jaromir Jagr a penalty for interference one time when he played the puck while sitting on the players' bench dasher boards with both skates dangling off the ice. For Jagr to play the puck legally, he had to have both skates in contact with the ice which was not the case.
When odd situations occur, such as these, all the officials take note in the event it should happen to them in the future. I am sure the referees will be prepared for the next time a player participates in the play with a broken stick and will penalize him accordingly.