NHL

Fraser: Thoughts on Killorn's hit, Johnson's interference

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Kerry Fraser
3/20/2014 2:18:01 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,

After seeing the hit from Alex Killorn on Toronto's Paul Ranger on Wednesday, do you think there was any way for the official to call it differently? Was tossing out Killorn simply based on seeing Ranger laid out on his back, or was there enough to see from the hit to justify getting him out of the game?

Also, Tampa's fifth goal was a bit controversial - Tyler Johnson interfered with Tim Gleason at the Leafs' blue line, but no penalty was called. Johnson then notched the goal, leaving the Leafs ticked off. Maybe a bit of a sell job by Gleason that the officials saw?

Paul Grey,
Peterborough, ON

Paul:

The rule book contains many references where the referee is directed to impose a major and game misconduct for a foul resulting in injury. This direction and expected standard applies to almost every rule found in the physical foul category with the exception of rule 48 - illegal check to the head where there is no provision for a major penalty or game misconduct. (The referees did not want their authority to generally exceed a minor penalty for an infraction of rule 48 however a match penalty can also be assessed).

A major penalty for boarding (41.3) can be assessed at the discretion of the referee based on the degree of violence of the impact with the boards, to a player guilty of boarding an opponent. Paul Ranger definitely impacted the boards with a high degree of violence and worthy of a major penalty following the poor decision Alex Killorn made to complete his intended hit with some muscle and hands finishing high. When a major is imposed under the boarding rule for a foul resulting in an injury to the face or head of an opponent a game misconduct must be assessed as well. Based upon the degree of impact with the boards and the resulting injury to Paul Ranger the referees had no alternative but to impose a major and game misconduct to Killorn. The correct call was made.

There is a much bigger picture here that needs to be rectified. I saw this as an avoidable and needless injury for a variety of reasons as Ranger and Killorn pursued a loose puck below the goal line. First there was only 7.1 seconds remaining in the period when the hit on Ranger was made and puck possession (or in the case of Ranger, puck and bodily protection) should have been their primary focus. Paul Ranger had the lead lane and slowed with a glide motion to shoulder-check the time remaining and to notice the close proximity and attack angle of Killorn's fore-check. There were definitely safer options available to Paul Ranger that he did not utilize. Some of those options became unavailable to him as the puck movement slowed in the corner below the goal line and Ranger overshot the puck location while looking back over his shoulder (Some possible options include: shouldering up and engage Killorn; keep the feet moving and square up to the end boards to take the hit from the side while protecting the puck or advancing it around the wall behind the net). Paul Ranger ultimately made a very dangerous decision and was rendered vulnerable by making a slight shoulder fake right and then a reverse turn to expose his back to Killorn and his face square to the boards.

Alex Killorn, on the other hand, did not make a good decision to alter his intended hit with reduced velocity or elevation of hands and stick once Ranger exposed his back and was placed in a vulnerable position. Stick on ice might have been an indicator that puck possession mattered more than making a big hit. Alex Killorn did what practically every player does in today's game; which is to finish a check hard and with speed.  There appears to be little regard for the consequences of these hits. I'm not trying to single Alex out just that much more needs to be done to encourage better decisions by a player that sets himself up for a hit and those that finish the hit. That will take a concerted effort by the players themselves through NHLPA involvement to stop this parade to the medical room. There is only so much the Player Safety Committee can do.

The contact Tyler Johnson initiated on Tim Gleason with the Lightning attacking the Leafs blue line on the power play was clearly an interference violation and deserving of a penalty. The attacking player must give way to the defenceman that is backing up on this play. Tim Gleason was focused on Michael Kostka carrying the puck through the middle of the neutral zone. Tyler Johnson approached Gleason from the side and would have made visual contact with the big Leafs defenceman. At that point Johnson must stop or alter his forward progress to avoid contact with Gleason; whether incidental or otherwise. While the official might have thought Gleason was trying to sell the call, the fact remains that he was interfered with by Johnson and effectively taken out of the play.  The takeout of Gleason allowed clean entry into the Leafs zone by Tampa and should not be ruled a collision. To add insult to injury for the Leafs, Tyler Johnson scored the eventual goal with Gleason in chase after picking himself up off the ice in the neutral zone. Interference of this nature on a defenceman backing up, especially when a team is killing a penalty, should be called 10 out of 10 times! 

Paul Ranger on stretcher (Photo: The Canadian Press)

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(Photo: The Canadian Press)
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