During a 2008 playoff game between the New York Rangers and New Jersey Devils, Sean Avery added to his elite pest resume by distracting Martin Brodeur with what I’d like to call a “windshield wiper” motion. He waved his stick in front of Brodeur’s mask in an obnoxious manner and the Rangers soon scored a goal thanks in some part to the diversionary technique.
Considering the fact that the NHL is quick to rule on matters related to Avery (see: six game suspension for making a joke about his ex-girlfriend and Dion Phaneuf), it wasn’t surprising that the league expanded some of its unsportsmanlike conduct penalty rules by amending it with “the Avery rule.”
It was an emphatic gesture against a rather regrettable (if, admittedly, a little bit funny in a “Bart Simpson antics” kind of way) moment, but few expected to see it come into play again.
Well, one of the league’s other troublemakers brought it back into the hockey discussion today. Philadelphia Flyers defenseman Chris Pronger seemed like he successfully screened Calgary Flames goalie Miikka Kiprusoff for what could have been an overtime game winner on the power play, only to find himself in the penalty box. The Flames would go on to win that game in overtime.
Obviously, Pronger wasn’t very happy with the call. (Kukla’s Korner has video of the press conference; we’ll keep our eyes open for video that we can post here.)
Adam Gretz of NHL Fanhouse notes why the call might be questionable, even though it’s clear that Pronger did wave his hand in front of Kipper’s face.
The issue, of course, is that Pronger wasn’t actually facing the goaltender as Avery was, which is what the league’s interpretation of the rule was back in 2008 — the player had to be facing the goalie. Continuing with the gong show is that the “rule” isn’t actually listed as part of Rule 75 (at least not as far as the one that’s made public by the league). All we have to go on is the league’s interpretation of the rule from 2008.
Take a look at the play for yourself in the video below.
So, after all that, I must ask: did Pronger get hosed or did the officials make the right call? Let us know my voting in the poll.