Monday, December 28, 2009

Day 42, Rule 42

The games: Tampa Bay vs. Boston.

Why I chose it: Tampa Bay's on the comeback trail, and the Z-man and French captain are looking sharp.

My peeve: I was going to switch now and again to the Montreal vs. Ottawa game, but alas there was no all-French broadcast so I couldn't listen and learn.

The rule: Section 6, Physical Fouls. Rule 42, Boarding.

Number of sections in the rule: 6.

Definition: This one is clearly defined on paper, but it's greatly dependent on the referee's judgment. Here it is:

42.1, Boarding. A boarding penalty shall be imposed on any player who checks an opponent in such a manner that causes the opponent to be thrown violently in the boards. The severity of the penalty, based upon the degree of violence of the impact with the boards, shall be at the discretion of the Referee. The Ref can impose a minor or major penalty (based on the degree of violence of the impact), match penalty (if the player attempted to or deliberately injured his opponent by boarding), or game misconduct penalty (foul resulting in an injury to the face or head of an opponent).

My favorite highlight: Second half of 42.1, Boarding. There is an enormous amount of judgment involved in the application of this rule by the Referees. The onus is on the player applying the check to ensure his opponent is not in a vulnerable position and if so, he must avoid the contact. However, there is also a responsibility on the player with the puck to avoid placing himself in a dangerous and vulnerable position. This balance must be considered by the Referees when applying this rule. Any unnecessary contact with a player playing the puck on an obvious "icing" or "off-side" play which results in that player being knocked into the boards is "boarding"...and in other instances where there is no contact with the boards, it should be treated as "charging."

The final score: Tampa Bay 2, Boston 1. And note to you critics of Honkin' Tall French Captain's slump who didn't watch this one because you didn't see the point...he was the first star of the night and set up the game opening goal. One word: comeback. With a Capital C.

The morals of the story:

The game: It's easy for fans to pass judgment on players, officials and goal judges, because of course we know and see all from our vantage point above the glass or on the close up replay on Versus. This rule is proof that it's never as easy as it looks. What if the player who got checked put himself in a vulnerable and dangerous position? There's no rule in this book for players who put themselves in harm's way knowing they could get hurt. Maybe there should be: Rule 89, Blame. If a player playing the puck puts himself in a dangerous and vulnerable position (near the boards, in the middle of a fight between other players, into the path of an oncoming defenseman on open ice, etc.), there shall be no penalty and play shall continue while the player retires to the bench to rethink a few things.

Life: This rule reminds me of when I got mugged in New York City and the cops bascially did nothing to help me except file a report because in their book, it was my fault: I was walking home alone without watching my ass. It was just like this rule: only the mugger didn't do his part and avoid the check. I agree we should take steps to protect ourselves, but let's face it. If someone wants to hurt you, they will find a way to do it. To this day, I don't carry valuables in my bag, I don't spend more than $3o on a handbag, I watch the sidewalk ahead and move to the side with less riff raff loitering around doorways, I don't answer people who talk to me on the bus and I look in the window reflections in stores so I can check who's behind me. Is it silly? Yes. But I've never been mugged since.

P.S. I did get some justice. There was no American money in that purse he stole. I'd been in Spain and all he got away with was a few hundred Pesetas and a credit card I cancelled before I called the cops.

Next up on 12/30: Section 6, Physical Fouls. Rule 43, Charging.

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