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Fraser: Difficulty of calling 'puck over the glass'

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Kerry Fraser
1/9/2014 1:23:45 PM
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Got a question on rule clarification, comments on rule enforcements or some memorable NHL stories? Kerry wants to answer your emails at cmonref@tsn.ca.

Hi Kerry,
 
In Wednesday's game between the Colorado Avalanche and the Ottawa Senators, Jan Hejda sent the puck into the crowd and was assessed a two-minute minor penalty. Already down a man, Colorado faced a considerably long two-man disadvantage which eventually led to two Ottawa goals.
 
When looking back at the tape, the puck seemed to touch a teammate's gloves on the way to the crowd. Would this still be considered as a delay of game although there had been a deflection?
 
Thanks a lot,
Patrick Scott
 
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Hello, Mr. Fraser and Happy New Year,
 
I was wondering if you could explain the thinking on the delay of game call against Jan Hejda in the second period of the Sens at Avs game. Was it a missed call with the puck going off Max Talbot's stick and into the stands or is that part of the rule? Obviously the replay does not come into play (since it was not reviewed), correct? Thanks for any info and for all you have done for the game.
 
Scott Graves
 
Patrick and Scott:

Rule 63.2 is very clear that a minor penalty for delay of game is only imposed when any player, with both of his skates inside his defending zone, shoot or bats (using his hand or his stick) the puck directly (non-deflected) out of the playing surface, except where there is no glass.

Once the end zone clearing shot by Avs defenceman Jan Hejda deflected off the glove/stick of teammate Max Talbot and over the glass no penalty should have been assessed! To be clear on the application of this rule, the same non-call should result even if the puck ticked or deflected off the top of the glass and then into the stands. This 'missed call' from the game last night in Colorado provided Ottawa with a significant two-man advantage and resulted in two power play goals being scored by the Sens.

I must tell you this can be a very tough call for even four officials on the ice to catch, unless the puck significantly changes direction to indicate a deflection has taken place. If a ref becomes a 'puck watcher' (zeroing in on the constant movements of the puck) he tends to miss infractions elsewhere. That's not a good thing!
 
More importantly, the ref needs to have his head on a swivel and make constant adjustments in visual focus to determine potential fouls in hot-spot locations. In a game of constant motion that's determined by recognizing the proximity opponents have to one another at all times when play is in progress and sometimes when it's not. For example, if an attacker was in close proximity to Jan Hejda and finished a check or made an attempted stick-check on the Avalanche player, the ref might miss a foul if he immediately watched the path of the puck once it was released off Hejda's stick.

It can also be difficult to follow the flight of the puck once it elevates above the white boards and is lost in the dark clothing worn by fans. A black puck on black equipment (glove) can also be difficult to detect in real-time unless an obvious redirect takes place.

While I'm not making excuses for missed calls, I want you understand the degree of difficulty in getting this call right 100 per cent of the time. We keep a tally board throughout the playoffs at TSN on various infractions and "puck over glass" usually tops the list. Often those infractions are committed at the worst time; either when a team is already a man short or in the late stages of a game or overtime. Circumstances such as these only magnify the demand for the Officials to get the call right is.

It's also easy for the hockey world to 'microscope' the eventual call through video replay which the officials have no advantage of.

Beyond just maintaining the status quo I see a couple of possible options for your consideration. Some suggest throwing the rule out completely and only penalize a player when the referee deems the puck was "deliberately" shot over the glass. I am totally against this option because of the huge inconsistency in the standard of enforcement that would be created. Score and time remaining in the game would ultimately be factored into the ref's decision. We don't need more of that 'old-school' philosophy, but less of it!

I believe the better option is to allow some sort of review or better yet a coach's challenge when the puck is shot over the glass that ultimately results in an error being made by the officiating crew. I would also like to see interference on the goalkeeper become a reviewable offense; particularly when a goal has resulted.

Both of these calls have proven to be very difficult for the Officials to make in real-time and can be game-breakers.       

Jan Hejda (Photo: The Canadian Press)

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(Photo: The Canadian Press)
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