Saturday, December 26, 2009

Day 40, Rule 40

The game: IIHF World Junior Championships, USA vs. Slovakia.

Why I chose it: Portland Winterhawk Luke Walker, gruesome face injury and all, is on Team USA's roster.

The rule: Section 5, Officials. Rule 40, Abuse of Officials.

Number of sections in the rule: 6.

Definition: This provides a general description of abuse, and offers a more detailed description of the types of infractions for which minor, benech minor, misconduct and game misconducts may be imposed. This rule applies to verbal abuse of officials. For the same abuse of anyone other than the officials (players, coaches, managers, etc.), Rule 75, Unsportsmanlike Conduct, is applied.

The general description of this rule states that "a player, goalkeeper, Coach or non-playing person shall not challenge or dispute the rulings of an on-ice official before, during or after a game. A player, goalkeeper, Coach or non-playing person shall not display unsportsmanlike coonduct, including, but not limited to, obscene, profane, or abusive language or gestures, comments of a personal nature intended to degrade an official, or persist in disputing a ruling after being told to stop or after being penalized for such behavior."

My favorite highlights (i.e. things even the most loyal of fans like myself may not have known):

40.2 Minor Penalty, subsection iii: Forbids banging on the boards in protest of an official's decision. No, it doesn't include hitting your own teammates in the head, a la the Keith Ballard whack to Thomas Vokoun's noggin. But, it does state that "if this is done in order to get the attention of the on-ice officials for a legitimate reason (e.g. serious injury, illness, etc.) then discretion must be exercised by the Referee. So, if Ballard had banged the boards AFTER he hit Vokoun to signal for help, that would have been ok.

40.3 Bench Minor Penalty, subsection ii: Any unidentifiable player or any Coach or non-playing person who uses obscene, profane or abusive language or gesture directed at an on-ice official or uses the name of any official coupled with any vociferous remarks. This I knew, but I just love that the NHL uses a word like "vociferous" in their rule book. Vociferous means loud, bellowing or blatant. So basically, if you make your comments quietly and/or to yourself, you don't get dinged.

40.4, Misconduct Penalty, subsection ii: Any player who intentionally knocks or shoots the puck out of the reach of an official who is retrieving it. This rule also applies to players who have already been assessed a minor or bench minor for unsportsmanlike conduct, and persist in doing so.

405. Game Misconduct Penalty, subsection vi: Any Player, Coach or non-playing person who throws or shoots any equipment or other object in the general direction of an official but does not come close to making any contact. This action may occur on or off the ice.

The final score: USA 7, Slovakia 3.

Morals of the story:

The game: Sportsmanlike conduct isn't exactly what hockey is known for, and let's face it, most fans wouldn't watch it if it was. But what if players and their managers and coaches were allowed to get away with anything? Fighting, yelling, swearing, banging the boards, holding, hooking, the whole nine yards. The only people doing their job on a given night would be the emergency personnel who hauled them out to the emergency room or the police station. We'd never get to see an Evgeni Malkin backhanded hat trick into the Carolina net. We'd never see Max Talbot score the Game 7 winner. We'd never watch Martin Brodeur set another record. It would be full scale, unmitigated carnage. Thanks to rules like this, there is beauty in hockey and yes, Virginia, there is sportsmanship.

Life: One of my friends' children asked me once what the penalty box was for. I told him it was a time-out for grownups. That's exactly what this is. It's the hockey equivalent of a time-out, or if you're like me and grew up in the 70s when there was no stigma attached to it, it's like a spanking. Parents need this rule. If children persist in talking back or disputing a command to do or not do something after being told to stop or after being penalized for such behavior, they can be sent to a backyard penalty bench for a 10-minute misconduct. Officials, in this case parents, shall keep official reports of such behavior, so that when the little whippersnappers grow up and want their own iPhone, it will be dependent upon their previous record of sportsmanlike or unsportsmanlike behavior.

Next up on 12/27: Section 5, Officials. Rule 41, Physical Abuse of Officials.

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