Tag: instigator penalty


Adams might not have a chance to pull Hartnell’s hair in Game 4


For a moment, it seemed like Sidney Crosby and Scott Hartnell were going to drop the gloves during Game 4. Instead, Pittsburgh Penguins winger – and Harvard product – Craig Adams stepped in to bail Crosby out of possible instigator implications. In the process, it appeared that he may have tugged on Hartnell’s lush locks, but believe it or not, that might not be the worst result of that exchange.

As Seth Rorabaugh points out, Adams might be guilty of breaking Rule 46.22, which states that a player will be suspended one game for incurring an instigator penalty late in a game. Such a scenario would also theoretically set Dan Bylsma back at least $10K according to Rorabaugh.

Of course, Rorabaugh also points out that the rule is rarely enforced – at least during the postseason. In fact, Evgeni Malkin got away with a prominent example of what could have been interpreted as a violation of the rule during Game 2 of the 2009 Stanley Cup finals but didn’t face a suspension.

In other words, Hartnell’s follicles should be warned because Adams is likely going to be available for Wednesday’s contest. Still, it’s a good excuse to linger on a moment that was strange even compared to the weird series of events that came before it, isn’t it? (Click here to watch the full game again, by the way.)

John Tortorella says instigator penalty encourages dirty hits

John Tortorella

For better or worse, the controversial decision not to even give Zdeno Chara a slap on the wrist is prompting another bout of discussion regarding hits in the NHL. Such a discussion surely resounds in league circles, judging by criticisms levied from stars such as Joe Thornton and recent statements by New York Rangers coach John Tortorella.

Despite the fact that he (somehow … supposedly) admitted he hasn’t seen footage of Chara’s hit on Max Pacioretty – seriously, does he list his address as Under a Rock? – Tortorella told Larry Brooks that rule changes encourage dirty hits.

Some might assume that Rule 48 (the most recent change, which provided clarification that blindside hits to the head are illegal) might be the source of derision, but Tortorella instead thinks the instigator penalty instigated it most of all.

“No one wants to see players hurt,” he said. “There needs to be some sort of honor and honesty in our game and I think we’ve lost that with the rules changes.”

The coach made it clear that while he thinks other rules changes such as eliminating benign obstruction have contributed to the problem, the instigator rule is the root cause. Tortorella is not alone among the hockey community in that belief, but the instigator rule that mandates a two-minute minor plus a 10-minute misconduct penalty for those who start a fight in defense of a teammate, is hardly a recent change, having been adopted in 1992-93.

“It’s not just that, but I think it’s a lousy rule,” Tortorella said. “I think the game has gotten [this] way because we have not allowed the players to police themselves. To me, that’s the bottom line.

“Players need to police themselves on the ice, not the rules, not supplementary discipline and all that,” he said. “That’s where I think we’ve lost honesty. Call me [old school], if you want. It’s wrong. “The instigator creates a mindset for players for players who you wouldn’t even see them if the instigator was not there.”

It’s tough to fault the spirit of the instigator rule, in theory at least. The league created that penalty in part to discourage teams from bullying others by having goons force players to get in fights they have no intention of engaging in.

Yet just about any hockey fan, writer or “expert” probably agrees that the good-natured idea falls flat in practice. There are many seemingly mutual fights that end up with instigator penalties and Tortorella might have a point that the Matt Cookes of the world probably bask in the security provided by the rule.

With the NHL’s latest batch of GM meeting scheduled for early next week, one wonders if the group might discuss changes to the instigator rule and other alterations that might curb some of these hits. After all, we don’t want too many more moments in which a “hockey play” instigates police intervention.