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Fraser: Phaneuf tripping call in Phoenix was a mistake

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Kerry Fraser
1/21/2014 3:34:15 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.

Hey Kerry,
 
I'll keep this short and sweet as I'm sure Toronto fans will be flooding your inbox, but last night Dion Phaneuf was given a tripping penalty on a player who was offside. Why was he penalized? The opponent was offside and the whistle would/should have been blown just before the trip.
 
Thanks,
John
 
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Phaneuf for tripping - why was this a penalty? Was it because the trip happened before the linesman blew the whistle dead? I thought that the linesman blew the whistle and the trip happened after the whistle.
 
Randy Carlyle seemed to accept the ref's explanation.
 
Regards,
Dallas
 
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Watched the Leafs beat Phoenix - wondering about Dion's penalty for tripping after the play was called offside? How is this even possible to get an in-game penalty outside of the game play? If anything, shouldn't it have been called unsportsmanlike conduct, which he would have gotten had he gone up to someone and tripped them outside of game play?
 
Justin

John, Dallas and Justin:
Infractions that occur simultaneously with or after a stoppage are typically penalized as though play was actually in progress. I could offer many examples where penalties have been assessed during a stoppage in play including just prior to a puck drop when players are lined up for a faceoff. The rules are applied whether the game clock is running or not.

However, rule 57 (tripping) is very specific in stating, "Accidental trips which occur simultaneously with a completed play will not be penalized. Accidental trips occurring simultaneously with or after a stoppage of play will not be penalized."

The optimum word in the rule is "accidental." This is intended to allow the referee to exercise 'common sense and sound judgment' in determining that a trip occurring simultaneously with or after a stoppage would have absolutely no bearing on the play. If however, a tripping infraction in the opinion of the referee caused an attacking player from cleanly entering the zone and therefore resulted in an offside at the blue line then the trip would in fact have a bearing on the play and a penalty would be assessed.

It was a bang-bang play last night when Mike Ribeiro pulled the puck back and made a shift just ahead of the blue line to avoid a Dion Phaneuf check. Ribeiro's move delayed the puck from crossing the line and caused David Moss to jump offside on the right wing. Phaneuf then stuck his stick in the feet of Ribeiro causing the Coyote to trip after the offside infraction had been committed and but a split second before the linesman's whistle sounded. As a result, there should have been no penalty assessed to Dion Phaneuf on the play.

The wide camera shot demonstrates that both referees immediately reacted to the trip by raising their arms. The referee in the neutral zone can be seen giving a wash-out signal because once the linesman blew his whistle he realized the play was offside at the blue line. The other referee that made the call from deep inside the Leafs end zone and on the opposite side to where trip had occurred did not pull back on his first reaction to the trip and assessed the penalty. From his position, the ref inside the zone must have deemed that the trip caused the offside and the blue line and therefore should be penalized.

I had a similar play one game in Los Angeles when Terry Murray was coaching the Kings. A King forward carried the puck across the attacking blue line. While the referee doesn't usually pay close attention when an attacking team crosses the blue line I had a quick sense that this entry looked offside but no whistle resulted. The attacker continued to carry the puck a good fifteen feet inside the zone when a defender tripped the King puck carrier. I raised my arm and as I blew my whistle I heard the sound of the linesman's whistle being blown simultaneously with mine. I approached the linesman and asked what had happened. He said the play was offside and he was slow in blowing the whistle; 15 feet slow!

There was no way that I was going to penalize a team for a trip that had no bearing on the play as a result of an offside that should have been blown down well in advance of the trip. Problem was Terry Murray, the players on both teams and close to 20,000 people saw me raise my arm to call the obvious trip! I communicated my decision and reasons not to assess the penalty to Murray. In spite of Terry's protest that I couldn't take away a penalty that everyone in the building saw me call my final decision stood. My last comment to Terry at the Kings bench was that in the NFL it would be announced as an "errant flag". On this night in the Staples Center he could consider it as an "errant arm"!

I skated over to the penalty box, clicked on my microphone and make the official announcement, "There was no penalty on the play as a result of the offside at the blue line."

The linesman quickly dropped the puck in the neutral zone and it was "game on." Common sense and sound judgment prevailed.

Dion Phaneuf (Photo: The Canadian Press)

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(Photo: The Canadian Press)
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