Fraser: Bruins' Johnson and the puck over the glass

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Kerry Fraser
3/28/2013 4:10:40 PM
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Got a question on rule clarification, comments on rule enforcements or some memorable NHL stories? Kerry Fraser wants to answer your emails at cmonref@tsn.ca!

Hi Kerry,
 
Love the column, I always look forward to it and use it as a learning tool in my officiating endeavors too.
 
My question is the interpretation of the Delay of Game rule that was applied late in the third period giving Montreal a pivotal power play and why a penalty was assessed in that situation as Bruin Aaron Johnson appeared to have deflected the puck over the glass with his stick.
 
Being that the puck was in flight and propelled by the Montreal player, as the puck gets to Johnson he attempts to block or deflect the puck with his stick causing it to go over the glass. How does this differ then from any player who reaches out to block or deflect a pass or shot in their defensive zone causing it to go out of play?
 
This is the first time I have seen this penalty applied in this situation, and I think a situation the Rules Committee would look at the original intent of the rule preventing a player from shooting the puck over the glass, and make a notation or exception to the rule in this case as the defensive player clearly was the one who did not propel or shoot the puck.
 
Also kudos to Chris Rooney for correctly waving off the Desharnais shoot out goal immediately and was confirmed on replay, great look and positioning!
 
Look forward to the response and interpretation.
 
Bill Bird,
Adams, MA

Bill:

When a player, while in his defending zone, swings his stick (or glove) at the puck causing the puck to leave the playing surface the NHL Referees will interpret this action as a "bat" of the puck as stipulated in rule 63.2 and assess a delay of game penalty. There is very little flexibility for the Referee to interpret that a deflection took place when the defending player uses his stick or hand with a deliberate action to contact the puck which then causes it to go directly over the glass. The puck's change in trajectory is a result of the deliberate action of the defending player even though his obvious intent would not be to hit it over the glass and incur a penalty.

I assessed this penalty on a goalkeeper who after making a save had the rebound pop up in front him chest high.  Before an attacking player could swipe at the puck the goalkeeper used his paddle in an underhand motion to bat the puck behind him and into protective netting behind the goal out of play. His intent was to clear the puck from his crease area. His action caused the puck to go directly over the glass out of play.

The objective is to keep the puck in play when the attacking team is applying pressure. Batting the puck out of the air with a stick also creates a safety issue and Bryan Berard instantly comes to mind. There was a time when the Referee would only assess a penalty if, in his judgment, a player deliberately shot or batted the puck over the glass. It happened quite a bit but the standard of enforcement was terribly inconsistent.  It was never called late in a game or when the score was close. Players knew it and when they needed a rest or the attacking team had them on the run the puck would be dumped over the boards to kill play.

There jury is split on this rule Bill. I am sure it is an ongoing topic of discussion with the General Managers and Rules Committee. The thing I like about it is that the onus is on the defending player to keep the puck below the glass. He has to handle it or attempt a skilled play as opposed to running the risk of a dump off the glass and out. Many times we see that the "out" becomes a delay of game penalty during the worst possible times. A stoppage in play results all the same Bill whether the defending player shoots or bats the puck over the glass. Love it or hate it this rule is the most consistently applied in the whole book.

You are so right in your kudos of Referee Chris Rooney for immediately disallowing David Desharnais shootout attempt when the puck crossed the goal line on a rebound.  Chris' setup and positioning created the perfect sightline on the play. He made the call without any hesitation.

Tomorrow is Good Friday so there will be no C'mon Ref until next Monday. Best wishes to all for a Blessed Easter and Passover.

Canadiens celebrate (Photo: Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)

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(Photo: Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)
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