Stop hugging and be more outraged!
Prior to Monday night’s game versus the Washington Capitals, the Canucks seemed to really be struggling to draw penalties. I’d argue it was mostly bad luck. Sometimes you go through a stretch like that. But it led many fans to wonder if it had something to do with Vancouver’s not-entirely-fair reputation as the divingest team in NHL history, a rep that’s half lazy narrative and half Ryan Kesler’s showy acting choices. (He’s the Anthony Hopkins of diving. He needs to become the Daniel Day-Lewis of diving.)
Versus the Capitals, however, the Canucks got their powerplay chances. Six of them, in fact. They weren’t able to — wait for it — capitalize, but that’s okay. For the first time in awhile, they got calls.
But it was far from a flawlessly officiated game. In the end, it doesn’t matter, since the Canucks won, but the contest featured a blown call that, had they lost, would have been the topic du jour in Vancouver this morning. It could have changed the game’s whole complexion, like Clearasil. (Instead, the Canucks had to change it themselves, with Sedinasil, the only skin care cream made with Scandinavian twin magic.)
During a second-period powerplay, with the Canucks set up in the Washington end, Karl Alzner lost a glove. Then, when the puck went behind the Washington goal, where Daniel Sedin was parked, Alzner shot that glove at Daniel Sedin.
Thanks to Greg Wyshynski for uploading this clip, as well as giving us a brief moment with the Washington announcers, who called Henrik Sedin “one of the premiere feeders in the league.” Like a bird feeder. His linemates just land on his ledge and nibble seeds.
Anyway. This is a thing you cannot do, and yet Alzner did it. But even more surprising is that the game just hums along as though shooting your glove at the puck carrier is a pretty standard part of it.
It’s not. Section 53 of the NHL rulebook touches on throwing or shooting equipment at an opponent, and not in a “this is a fun thing you should try!” sort of way. It’s illegal, and the whistle should have blown. Did the referee just forget the rules or something?
Our initial understanding, according to section 53.6, was that it should have been a penalty shot, actually:
53.6 Penalty Shot – When any member of the defending team, including the Coach or any non-playing person, throws or shoots any part of a stick or any other object or piece of equipment at the puck or puck carrier in his defending zone, the Referee or Linesman shall allow the play to be completed and if a goal is not scored, a penalty shot shall be awarded to the non-offending team. This shot shall be taken by the player designated by the Referee as the player fouled.
Considering the Canucks were, at that time, locked in a 1-1 tie, a penalty shot probably would have been nice.
But on Tuesday morning, Kerry Fraser, who knows a thing or two about missed calls, weighed in on the debate. According to the retired NHL referee, yes, the play should have drawn a whistle, but only for a minor penalty. Rule 53.6 is broadly worded, but rule 53.2 gives a clarification for instances of glove-shooting that don’t affect the puck carrier’s ability to make a play. From TSN:
For your insight into the interpretation and expected standard of enforcement the Refs have been directed to follow, I refer you back to 53.2; “When a player shoots or throws a stick or any other object at the puck or the puck carrier in the defending zone but does not interfere in any manner with the puck or puck carrier, a minor penalty shall be assessed.”It is imperative that the object shot or thrown directly alters the movement of the puck or directly affects the decision and motion of the puck carrier.
Neither of these situations was present. Daniel Sedin didn’t flinch when the glove landed between his skates against the end boards. Instead, Daniel proceeded to make his intended pass away from traffic to Dan Hamhuis who had pinched down low at the corner goal line from his point position. Given the resulting circumstance as described herein a minor penalty for interference (53.2) should have been assessed.
A minor penalty would have been nice too, since it would have meant about a ninety second five-on-three in the middle of a tie game. Missed calls are a fact of life, but this one’s pretty dismal. How did it happen?
As Fraser explains in that folksy “aw shucks, another missed call, well, whatever, it’s not like we’re counted on to enforce the rules” way of his, the glove shot was just missed entirely. Right at the moment Alzner flicks it at Daniel’s feet, Ian Walsh, the official in the corner, is making a determination on whether the crosscheck John Carlson just gave Ryan Kesler is a penalty. It’s only a split-second, but by the time he looks back, the glove is at Daniel’s feet and he’s not sure how it got there.
That’s just good luck if you’re Alzner.
As I said, in the end, it doesn’t matter, although, I mean, really, who shoots a glove? Real men throw it, isn’t that right, Kevin Bieksa?