Tag: penalties

Mike Gillis

GM Meetings: Gillis hopes to penalize defensive zone hand passes


If Canucks GM Mike Gillis gets his way, players who perform a defensive zone hand pass will get a minor penalty. The motivation, as you might have guessed, is to improve the attacking team’s chances of scoring. So this might be a small step towards addressing a bigger problem: despite all the chances made following the lockout, scoring is on the decline once again.

Based on figures from hockey-reference, the number of goals scored per game has dropped significantly since it spiked in the season following the lockout. You can notice that change easily enough by just looking at the leaderboard. Last season Daniel Sedin was the only player to exceed the 100-point mark and Corey Perry was our only 50 goal scorer. Back in 2005-06, we had five guys hit or exceed the 50-goal milestone and seven players finish with at least 100 points.

There’s likely no single reason for the decline in goals, but one of the glaring differences between the 2005-06 campaign and today is the number of power-play opportunities. We’ve seen a steep decline in the number of power plays during the last seven years. That’s relevant because in addition to aiding the attacking team, this new rule might lead to more penalties per game. It probably won’t enough to make a major dent, but it might help as part of a larger effort.

Mike Milbury swings a stick against slashing

Mike Milbury

The NHL’s overall rules haven’t been assailed like they were in the Dead Puck Era, but there are still things that give hockey people fits. Delay of game penalties are the first example that come to mind, but a perceived hypersensitivity to slashing infractions also bother plenty of people.

Mike Milbury is in that group, as you can see in a very amusing way in the video clip below:

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NHL names officials for 2011 playoffs; Will they actually use their whistles?

Vancouver Canucks v Atlanta Thrashers

The NHL named the 20 referees and 20 officials who will legislate the 2011 playoffs today. Some of the familiar names include Paul Devorski, Stephen Walkom and Dan O’Halloran, but if you really need to know every guy you’ll eventually heckle during the next two-plus months, they’re listed at the bottom of this post.

This list of referees brings up an important question, though: will the NHL send them a message to actually make calls during the playoffs or will the pervasive “just let ’em play” illogic prevail?

Instead of boring you with fractions and decimals, the easiest way to notice the fact that the league is starting to sink back into those ugly, pre-lockout habits can be seen in the scoring leaders. Daniel Sedin’s 104 points is the lowest Art Ross Trophy-winning total since Martin St. Louis won it with 94 in 2003-04 while Corey Perry was the only player in the league to hit 50 goals.

Referees are turning a blind eye to instances of obstruction and interference more and more, if you ask me (and many other increasingly concerned observers). One might look at a subtle pick or a moderate grab as a “part of the game,” but these tactics allow slow, lower-skill players to dumb the game down when hockey should be opening every door for the fastest, most talented guys to shine.

As Mike Chen astutely points out, the beginning of the 2011 playoffs could provide the league with an opportunity to send a message about making the proper calls rather than swallowing whistles to silence angry fans and whiny coaches.

More and more first-time and returning fans will gravitate toward these games as the postseason goes on, so why not display the sport at its best instead of allowing mediocre teams to muck things up with their clutching and grabbing?

Chances are, things will just get worse because of that aforementioned “just let ’em play” mentality, especially since the league has been getting off the hook lately. For the last three seasons, luck has been on the NHL’s side when it comes to high-profile, elite teams meeting in the Stanley Cup finals. If they let the on-ice mugging (er, I mean “defense”) go too far, we could be in for another New Jersey Devils-Anaheim Ducks-type snooze fest.

Hopefully the cream will rise to the top, but here are the list of officials who will be given the power to allow the best to be the best (or not). (List via NHL.com.)

Referees (20):
Paul Devorski
Eric Furlatt
Marc Joannette
Greg Kimmerly
Steve Kozari
Dennis LaRue
Chris Lee
Wes McCauley
Brad Meier
Dan O’Halloran
Dan O’Rourke
Tim Peel
Brian Pochmara
Kevin Pollock
Chris Rooney
Francois St. Laurent
Kelly Sutherland
Stephen Walkom
Ian Walsh
Brad Watson

Linesmen (20):
Derek Amell
Steve Barton
David Brisebois
Scott Cherrey
Greg Devorski
Pat Driscoll
Ryan Galloway
Shane Heyer
Brad Kovachik
Brad Lazarowich
Steve Miller
Jean Morin
Brian Murphy
Jonny Murray
Derek Nansen
Tim Nowak
Pierre Racicot
Tony Sericolo
Jay Sharrers
Mark Wheler

Team executives call for stricter enforcement of charging, boarding infractions on Day 2 of GM Meetings

Columbus Blue Jackets v Pittsburgh Penguins

It’s unclear if the second day of this spring’s GM meetings will bring any conclusions more substantial than Gary Bettman’s five-point plan to inhibit concussions, but that doesn’t meant that progress won’t be made.

One of Tuesday’s main focuses regarded the need for greater enforcement of charging and boarding penalties.

It makes sense that general managers would attack those two types of infractions since those forms of “hockey plays” tend to generate a big chunk of the NHL’s worst headline-grabbing checks.

While legislating on hits along the board might be difficult because you cannot completely remove those battles for the puck, cutting down on charging seems like a no-brainer. Whenever people look at controversial hits, they often focus on the location of the blow (“But he hit him in the shoulder, not the head” is a common – and reasonable – response.) Yet what often gets lost is how many strides a player took before delivering a brutal check.

Don’t take this the wrong way, because charging isn’t evident in every hit, but there are times when a player builds up a troubling amount of momentum before such a check. Those are instances when it’s difficult to avoid calling such an attack “premeditated.”

NHL.com has some details on the charging and boarding-related talks.

NHL Senior Vice President and Director of Officiating Terry Gregson appeared today on NHL Live! following Tuesday morning’s session. He said referees need to think about three questions as they evaluate the merit of a charging or boarding call: Did the player making the hit have any regard for the puck? Is the player making the hit trying to separate the player from the puck? Or was the player making the hit just to punish?

Maybe they should ask one other penalty, though: should referees be bolder about handing out harsher penalties for such infractions? Two of the best ways to punish teams is on the ice or at the bank, so maybe tangible fines and more punitive penalties would help curb this problem even more.

Anyway, we’ll keep you abreast of the details regarding the GM meetings. Stay tuned.