Sunday, December 27, 2009

Day 41, Rule 41

The game: IIHF World Junior Championship, USA vs. Switzerland.

Why I chose it: Two Winterhawks are facing off against each other in this one. Luke Walker is on Team USA and Nino Niederreiter is in the lineup for Switzerland.

Cool moment if you live in Portland: The announcer just mentioned that Nino plays for us. He's also in the starting lineup. On the other hand, Luke's in the box.

My peeve: The NHL is STILL debating hits to the head, late hits, whatever you call it. I'm writing in with my own suggestion for a new rule: Rule 88, Unnecessary Hits: any player who delivers a deliberate hit to the head with the intent to harm another player and remove them from the game will be automatically and permanently removed from active play, since they couldn't come up with a smarter, better way to win, like say, being a stronger, smarter, better conditioned player. Period. End of rule. No substitutions, no exceptions.

The rule: Section 5, Officials. Rule 41, Physical Abuse of Officials.

Number of sections in the rule: 8.

Definition: This rule defines game misconduct, the categories for automatic suspension (there are 3), the automatic suspension process and supplementary discipline. It includes offenses by coaches, managers and non-playing Club personnel and, not surprisingly, it requires that all Clubs provide adequate police or other security for the safety of players goalkeepers and officials. Category I carries the highest penalty (suspension for not less than 20 games) and must involve deliberate force with intent to injure. Category II is force without intent or spitting on an official and imposes a suspension of not less than 10 games. Category III is for threatening behavior like tossing equipment or spitting at officials and carries a suspension of not less than 3 games.

At the end of the day, it all boils down to the same thing, as defined by 41.1, Game Misconduct: Any Player who deliberately applies physical force in any manner against an official, in any manner attempts to injure an official, physically demeans, or deliberately applies physical force to an official solely for the purpose of getting free of such an official during or immediately following an altercation shall receive a game misconduct penalty. In addition, the following (41.2, 41.3, 41.4) disciplinary penalties shall apply.

My favorite highlight: 41.5 Automatic Suspension - Process: Immediately after the game in which such game misconduct penalty is imposed, the Referees shall, in consultation with the Linesmen, decide the category of the offense. To summarize: they must provide a verbal report to the NHL Director of Hockey Operations and they may file a written report with the Director to request a review as to the adequacy of the suspension. The NHLPA, the player and the club shall be notified of the Referees decision on the morning following the game. The League then holds a conference call with the NHLPA to review the Referees decision and will refrain from public comment affirming the Referees application of the rule until that call is complete. A hearing can be requested by the player or the officials. For Category I and II offenses, the NHL must conduct the hearing in person. For Category III offenses only, the NHL may conduct the hearing by phone.

The final score: TBD. It's tied at 0 at the first intermission. Will update later.

The morals of the story:

The game: It's one thing if players get into it with each other - that's a given. But how stupid do you have to be to get into it with an official? It's not like player fights, where it's like who started what? Dude, if you hit, spit or throw something at the guys wearing stripes, even without intent, you're gonna go down. And if you're a marquee player, the team's going down with you. Wanna get mad? Take the Keith Ballard route and hit your own teammate, because apparently the NHL doesn't penalize for that.

Life: This is the hockey equivalent of a trial by jury for criminals, complete with an appeals (review) process. Except in the NHL, punishment is swift, unrefuted and when the League makes a final decision, that's it. You do the crime, it gets reviewed, you do the time. It should stop you, but just like life, it rarely does. Our justice system needs this rule. Here's how my system would work:

Category I - Automatic suspension from leisure-based activities in which you might have any fun, relegating you to nothing more than commuting to work, eating food that you don't like and watching news (no cable, no internet free movies, nothing) for no less than 20 days for any individual who does the following: texting or talking on the cell phone or being drunk while driving, letting your dog pee on the neighbor's newly planted pansies and telling the clerk who can't find the price tag that an item was $1.99 when it was really $4.99 and you know it.

Category II - Automatic suspension from leisure-based activities, with occasional snacks on food you like and one hour of TV other than news for no less than 10 days for individuals who do the following: cuts in front of me in line because I'm alone and they figure they can just slip in and I won't say anything because nobody's got my back, speeding in school zones, residential areas or two lane roads because you're busy committing the first offense above, and complaining to the clerk at Starbucks because they put full fat in your latte instead of fat-free. On the last offense, get over it and live life.

Category III - Automatic suspension from leisure-based activities, with one meal of food you like and two hours of TV other than news for no less than 3 days for individuals who do the following: interrupt a live conversation to check their PDA or take a cell phone call, complain about how your favorite athletic team isn't scoring or is generally sucking when you yourself haven't seen the inside of a gym since Wayne Gretzky's rookie season, try to drift past a stop sign or slip out of a parking lot into oncoming traffic in order to cut in front of drivers who clearly have the right of way by forcing them to stop or let you in because otherwise they'd hit you. Special note to drivers who do this to me: I will honk, stop only for the purpose of flipping you off vociferously and to photograph your license plate with my cell phone camera so I can send it to the DMV, and then drive around you.

Next up on 12/28: Section 6, Physical Fouls. Rule 42, Boarding.

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