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Great column and Happy New Year to you and your family!
Wanted to give kudos to referee Brad Meier, who demonstrated great knowledge of the rules when a rare situation occurred in a game between the Kings and Bruins on Thursday night (and the second time I've seen it at Staples Center).
Boston's Dougie Hamilton was exiting the penalty box shortly after the start of the second period and played the puck while his skates were still in the box. Meier immediately blew the play dead and assessed the minor for interference. This was a much better outcome than a couple seasons ago when a player stopped a potential breakaway by playing the puck from the bench in a late-season game.
Kerry, you've made thousands of calls over your career, what's the rarest/oddest you've had to make?
Keep up the great work!
Kudos to you as well for crediting referee Brad Meier for his quick and accurate response when Dougie Hamilton committed a violation of rule 56.2 by playing the puck while his skate(s) remained firmly planted inside the penalty box. (56.2—A minor penalty shall be imposed on any identifiable player on the players' or penalty bench who, by means of his stick or his body, interferes with the movements of the puck or any opponent on the ice during the progress of the play. In addition, should a player about to come onto the ice, play the puck while one or both skates are still on the players' or penalty bench, a minor penalty for interference shall be assessed.)
Quite interestingly I had the occasion to assess a similar penalty when a player stepped out of the penalty box in Calgary to grab a clearing shot with full intention to sprint away on a breakaway. He never got any farther than touching the puck before I blew the whistle since his back skate was still in contact with the threshold of the penalty box door! At the time all the players were confused by the call since they had no idea about the rule.
The most bizarre interference penalty of this nature was one I called on Jaromir Jagr in a game at the Igloo in Pittsburgh. Jagr was waiting patiently to replace his teammate on the fly who was still a good fifteen feet from the Penguins bench. Jaromir wanted to get a head start so he sat on top of the bench dasher boards with his skates hanging down and dangling above the ice. Jagr's teammate made it to the bench in time for a legal change just as the puck came near the bench. Rather than jump off the dasher onto the ice Jaromir remained seated, stopped the puck and began to stickhandle it with his skates still hanging off the ice. Jagr was quite surprised when I blew the whistle and gave him an interference penalty. He didn't know that what he did was illegal either!
Another time the same player (Jagr) decided to leave the ice while play was in progress. The problem was he didn't go to his players' bench to make a legal substitution but instead stopped in front of the end zone door that leads to the Penguins dressing room. 'Jags' knocked on the glass, the young kid that attended to the dressing room opened the door (who was he to argue with Jaromir Jagr?) and the Penguin superstar stepped off the ice as play continued! The Pens were subsequently playing a man short with Jagr heading to the dressing room so a replacement player jumped over the boards from the bench. Once the Penguins gained possession of the puck I stopped play and assessed a bench minor penalty for illegal substitution.
Jaromir Jagr is an amazing player and an automatic selection to the Hockey Hall of Fame awaits him whenever he finally retires. It was a thrill to watch him perform from close range for so many years.
I was also happy that I was able to teach Jagr some of the playing rules along the way.