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Fraser: Awarding Plekanec a penalty shot was the right call

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Kerry Fraser
11/6/2013 12:14:48 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!

Hello Kerry,
 
I'm writing about the call on David Backes dislodging the net with 50 seconds left in the Montreal-St. Louis game to give Tomas Plekanec a penalty shot.
 
I feel it was incorrect as it looked like Backes was almost falling backwards as he was trying to backcheck. What would you have called in that situation?
 
Chris Schellenbach
Kirkwood, MO
 
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Hi Kerry,
 
In Tuesday's Montreal-St. Louis game, the Canadien player Douglas Murray had the puck behind the net and the St. Louis player David Backes delivered a hit which forced a turnover for an Alex Steen goal. How was that not a cross-checking penalty?
 
Grant Brodie
 
Chris and Grant:

Thanks to both of you for submitting a question from the St. Louis Blues shootout win over the Montreal Canadiens broadcast on TSN Tuesday night.

Chris, the penalty shot called by rookie referee Darcy Burchell when David Backes dislodged the net from the moorings with just 48.9 seconds remaining and the score tied was not only a real gutsy call but the correct one.

I concede your point, Chris, that David Backes did have momentum moving backwards after he cleared the rebound from outside the goal crease that resulted from Jaroslav Halak's save off the stick of Tomas Plekanec. Backes slipped past the pad of Halak and continued on his backward path through the goal crease. There was no effort made by Backes to initiate a stop or avoid making contact with the net. Knowing that contact with the goal was imminent, David Backes placed his hand and elbow on the crossbar in a reasonable effort to protect himself. That's as much leeway as I can offer the Blues' captain to this point of the play.

The instant that David Backes made a slight hip-check move, which dislodged the post from its moorings, a delay of game penalty was warranted.  While I give young referee Darcy Burchell full marks for making the correct call, the rookie seemed a little hesitant to signal the penalty shot once he blew his whistle to kill the play. I can appreciate the many things that would have been going through Burchell's mind as he viewed and factored-in Backes' actions when the net was dislodged. Once his decision was made, I would suggest the young man should be more emphatic with his signal to demonstrate his certainty and to help sell the call.

It is also important to note that any Habs player that was on the ice at the time of the infraction could have been designated to take the penalty shot. This is clearly spelled out in rule 24.3; "In cases where a penalty shot has been awarded to a player specifically fouled, that player shall be designated by the referee to take the penalty shot. *In all other cases where a penalty shot has been awarded, the penalty shot shall be taken by a player selected by the Captain of the non-offending team from the players on the ice at the time when the foul was committed."

I offer kudos to Darcy Burchell for demonstrating the courage to make a tough call given the score and the time in the game. That's what we expect from the refs, isn't it hockey fans?

The answer to your question, Grant, is that the "push/shove" that David Backes utilized on the back of Habs defenceman Douglas Murray and forced a turnover of the puck is deemed to be legal strength checking move. If you look closely on the replay, you will notice that Backes' two gloves make the primary contact with Murray's back and the shove motion is not regarded as a cross-check.

Tomas Plekanec  (Photo: Francois Lacasse/NHLI via Getty Images)

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(Photo: Francois Lacasse/NHLI via Getty Images)
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