Sunday, January 31, 2010

Day 75, Rule 75

The game: Pittsburgh vs. Detroit.

Why I chose it: What goes best with brunch? Hockey, of course. Plus, it's a Stanley Cup final rematch.

Long time coming: Back here in Portland, for the first time in I don't even remember how long, the Portland Winterhawks sold out last night's game. 10,907 fans were in the house. How could we not beat Seattle 6 - 2?

Favorite plays: Evgeni Malkin scoring the game-winning goal in the shootout with the greatest of ease. On the home front, Ryan Johansen scoring at the very tail end of the first period to put the Hawks up by one. Luke Walker sealing the deal with the game winner. Ooohh, and Luca Sbisa scoring his first goal as a Winterhawks, and on his birthday to boot.

The rule: Section 9, Other Fouls. Rule 75, Unsportsmanlike Conduct.

Definition: 75.1, Unsportsmanlike Conduct. Players and non-playing Club personnel are responsible for their conduct at all times and must endeavor to prevent disorderly conduct before, during or after the game, on or off the ice and any place in the rink. The Referees may assess penalties to any of the above team personnel for failure to do so. NOTE: When such conduct is directed at an official, Rule 40 - Abuse of Officials shall be applied.

My favorite higlights: 75.2, Minor Penalty. Minor penalties for unsportsmanlike conduct are assessed for the following:

-- Any identifiable player who uses obscene, profane or abusive language or gestures directed at any person. So, what if the player isn't identifiable? Can he carry on unabated with hurling unpleasantries at an unruly fan?

-- Hair pulling, biting, grabbing hold of a face mask, throwing an object onto the ice, and being the instigator of a fight while wearing a face shield. If injury results, a match penalty is assessed. Oh, and my personal favorite: a player who deliberately removes his jersey prior to participating in an altercation or who is clearly wearing a jersey that has been modified and does not conform to Rule 9 - Uniforms, shall be assessed a minor penalty for unsportsmanlike conduct and a game misconduct. If the altercation never materializes, the player would receive a minor penalty for unsportsmanlike conduct and a ten-minute misconduct for deliberately removing his jersey.

Final scores: Pittsburgh 2, Detroit 1 (SO). Portland Winterhawks 6, Seattle Thunderbirds 2.

The morals of the story:

The game: Obscene or profane language dominates the infractions for which a penalty can be assessed. I think the only question here is how much obscene or profane language doesn't get penalized. Because if it all was, there would be a stoppage of play every tenth of a second.

As for the jersey removing...just to refresh, a game misconduct is a more severe penalty than a minor. Which means you get a bigger penalty just for threatening the unsportsmanlike behavior than you would if it materialized. I understand why this rule exists - the NHL at least needs to send a message that unsportsmanlike conduct is not ok. But let's face it, there are three things that will go down in every hockey game, without question: swearing, spitting and macho posturing before a fight. They're's all about the threat, not actually throwing the punch.

Interesting omission: Nowhere in here does it penalize players for "dropping the mitts" in anticipation of a fight.

Life: Sadly, unsportsmanlike conduct is a part of life and thanks to modern technology it's everywhere. Texting, Twitter, cell phones, Bluetooths, iPhones, etc. have all made what was previously unacceptable and rude thoroughly acceptable. People think nothing of interrupting a live conversation to "take a call" to show how important they think they are. And if you are walking around with a Bluetooth in your ear, lest you should miss an important call, because as we all know, the world revolves around you...give it up. Even the President doesn't wear one of those things. If I was the NHL Commissioner of life, these would be just a few of my penalties for unsportsmanlike conduct:

-- Offense: Swearing, spitting or scratching private body parts in public. Penalty: Automatic banishment to a deserted island with a sharpened spear, a month's worth of clean underwear and a recipe for cooking fish on a open fire. Permanent orders to all boats traveling in the area to not rescue you if they see your smoke signals.

-- Offense: Wearing a Bluetooth for more than an hour and/or using it to pretend you are talking to someone on the other end, so your poor little ego can be fed it's daily self-affirmation snack. Penalty: Being placed on a permanent technology blacklist, so when you attempt to purchase said equipment or other useless technology, you will instead be handed a pamphlet with instructions on how to achieve self-enlightenment without the help of imaginary friends.

Next up on 2/1: Section 10, Game Flow. Rule 76, Face-offs.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Day 74, Rule 74

The game: Anaheim vs. Tampa Bay (1/29).

Why I chose it: Honkin' tall French captain faces off against cutie pie Swiss goalie. No other reason required.

The dilemma: I don't know which team to root for. If it goes to shootout, I'm going with Anaheim because it's all about the goaltender.

Oh look, funny how things work out: The final score: Anaheim 2, Tampa Bay 1 in a shootout.

And it keeps getting better: The Ducks just signed Jonas Hiller to a four-year contract extension. So I have signed myself to a four-year Anaheim Ducks fan extension.

And, on the local front: According to their team's blog, tonight's Portland Winterhawks' game against Seattle is very nearly sold-out. It's been a long time since they were even near that milestone. The Rose Garden is where it's at my friends. And it's Mascot night, so the kids will be able to hobnob with adults dressed as large fuzzy animals.

Now, the rule: Section 9, Other Fouls. Rule 74, Too Many Men on the Ice.

Definition: 74.1, Too Many Men on the Ice. Players may be changed at any time during the play from the players' bench provided that the player or players leaving the ice shall be within five feet (5') of his players' bench and out of the play before the change is made. Refer also to Rule 71 - Premature Substitution. at the descretion of the on-ice officials, should a substituting player come onto the ice before his teammate is within the five foot (5') limit of the players' bench (and therefore clearly causing his team to have too many players on the ice), then a bench minor penalty may be assessed.

The finer points (highlights): If in the course of making a substitution, either the player entering the game or the player retiring from the ice surface plays the puck with his stick, skats or hands or who checks or makes any physical contact with an opposing player while either the player entering the game or the retiring player is actually on the ice, then the infraction of "too many men on the ice" will be called. If in the course of a substitution either the player(s) entering the play or the player(s) retiring is struck by the puck accidentally, the play will not be stopped and no penalty will be called. In case you're wondering: A player coming onto the ice as a substitute player is considered on the ice once both of his skates are on the ice.

The morals of the story:

The game: Well, at least I see why this rule is just named for what it is. Because the technical name of this offense, Deliberate Illegal Substitution, sounds like something you do to cheat on your taxes. Also, what if you're 5'1" from the bench when your substitute comes out? Are you toast? Inquiring minds want to know.

Life: I used to work on Wall Street at a public relations agency. Yes, it was evil. No I didn't do it for long. Here's why I did it: It paid me enough money to finally afford rent and Rangers season tickets. Now, as for this rule: in PR you spend a lot of time at these huge conferences in hotels, where you stand around the press room and try to convince reporters to write about whatever you're hawking. Doesn't matter, because most of the time they aren't interested. But like this rule, there's a "hand off" where an agency tries to switch up the account execs in the hopes the reporters won't realize it and maybe buy the same crap from a different salesperson. And like this rule, it doesn't work. It's a good thing there is no bench minor for this in life, but maybe there should be.

Think about it this way: I spent about a year and a half on Wall Street and I went to some pretty cool places (Barcelona, Berlin, Montreal), but not once did any of us ever convince a reporter to write a single story. There's a reason this rule penalizes teams who do it deliberately -- it's a lame attempt to gain an unfair advantage. Want to score the story, the goal, whatever? Do it the right way. True, fans don't really want to watch a fair hockey game. Nor do we want to watch one where every victory is won by deception. Watching a player win the right way, in the prime of his career, trumps cheating any day.

Next up on 1/31: Section 9, Other Fouls. Rule 75, Unsportsmanlike Conduct.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Day 73, Rule 73

The game: Ottawa vs. Pittsburgh. Chicago vs. San Jose.

The quirk: It was the Pens vs. the Sens. And the Hawks vs. the Sharks. Sounds like a Broadway musical.

The rule: Section 9, Other Fouls. Rule 73, Refusing to Start Play.

Number of sections in the rule: 3.

Definition: 73.1, Refusing to Start Play. This rule applies to teams who refuse to play while both teams are on the ice or who withdraws from the ice and refuses to play or who refuses to come onto the ice at the start of the game or at the beginning of the period of any game, when ordered to do so by the Referee.

My favorite highlights: 73.2, Procedure - Team on Ice. If, when both teams are on the ice, one team for any reason shall refuse to play when ordered to do so by the Referee, he shall warn the Captain and allow the team so refusing fifteen (15) seconds within which to begin the play or resume play. If at the end of that time, the team shall still refuse to play, the Referee shall impose a bench minor penalty for delay of game on a player of the offending team to be designated by the Coach of that team through the playing Captain. Hold it - so, these guys are refusing to play, but they're going to momentarily stop pouting and get organized enough to designate a player and tell their Captain in an orderly fashion? Sure. If you say so. And if the refusal continues, the Coach is also fined and removed from the bench and assessed a game misconduct. In case all that doesn't work: should the offending team still refuse to play, the Referee shall have no alternative but to declare that the game be forfeited to the non-offending Club and the case shall be reported Commissioner for further action (see Rule 66 - Forfeit of Game).

The final scores: Sens 4, Pens 1. Face-off for the Hawks vs. Sharks is in 10 minutes.

Morals of the story:

The game: This is the grown up, NHL version of children pouting until they get their way. It comes complete with a "I'm going to count to 10 and then you're going to be in trouble" rule. Why any team would do this and continue to do it when the final penalties are fines to the Coach and Manager and forfeit of a game to the non-offending team, I don't know. If hockey experts are reading this, do enlighten me.

Life: Oh please. NHL pros have no idea how lucky they are. If you did this in life and refused to come into work and got warned and still didn't do it, you'd be on the unemployment line. Your whole career would be forfeited to pretty much anyone who doesn't whine or have an overly inflated sense of personal importance.

Next up: It will be the official start of my personal stretch run. As of January 29, it will be 14 days until the Olympics and there are 13 rules to go. The next rule on deck for 1/30 is Rule 74, Too Many Men on the Ice.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Day 71, Rules 71 and 72

The game: I came home and started watching the Anaheim vs. Washington game, but I caught it right as the Capitals were scoring 4 goals in like, 11 seconds. Plus, they were giving my favorite goalie the night off. So I'm waiting for a replay of Montreal vs. Tampa Bay.

Why I chose it: Honkin' tall French-speaking captain and more honkin' tall French speaking players on the same ice. I'm in.

But we don't need to leave Portland to watch an Anaheim Duck in action: the Ducks sent Luca Sbisa back to Lethbridge to finish out the season with his junior team. He got traded to the Portland Winterhawks and he arrived in the Rose City yesterday, sans hockey gear. Word is that he may hit the ice for the Winterhawks this weekend. If you live in Portland, may I suggest you join us: Saturday night, 7 pm, Rose Garden.

The rules: Section 9, Other Fouls. Rule 71, Premature Substitution. Rule 72, Refusing to Play the Puck.

Number of sections in the rules: 2 (Rule 71). 5 (Rule 72).


71.1, Premature Substitution. When a goalkeeper leaves his goal area and proceeds to his players' bench for the purpose of substituting another player, the skater cannot enter the playing surface before the goalkeeper is within five feet (5') of the bench. If the substitution is made prematurely, the official shall stop play immediately unless the non-offending team has possession of the puck -- in which event the stoppage will be delayed until the puck changes possession.

72.1, Refusing or Abstaining from Playing the Puck. The purpose of this section is to enforce continuous action and both Referees and Linesmen should interpret and apply the rule to produce this result. So, this rule encourages the officials to "produce a result" eh? Sounds a little suspicious to me.

My favorite highlights: Second half of 71.1. There shall be no time penalty to the team making the premature substitution, but the resulting face-off will take place at the center ice face-off spot when play is stopped beyond the center red line. When player is stopped prior to the center red line, the resulting face-off shall be conducted at the nearest face-off spot in the zone where the play was stopped.

72.2, Hand Pass. When a hand pass has been initiated by one player to a teammate and the teammate elects not to play the puck to avoid the stoppage of play, and the opposing team also abstains from playing the puck (perhaps to allow time to expire on a penalty), the Referee shall stop the play and order the resulting face-off at the nearest face-off location to where the play was stopped for this violation. The rule is nearly identical when a player does the same thing with a high stick.

The final score: Tampa Bay Lightning 3, Montreal Canadiens 0. I believe the French translation is jeu blanc or blanchissage.

Morals of the story:

The game: I think the verbiage says it all: "perhaps to allow time to expire on a penalty." It sounds like cops trying to untangle a murder mystery on "Law and Order." This tells me the officials know what players are up to and they aren't going to take any excuses. On the other hand, both teams have to be guilty of the same crime at the same time and what are the chances of that happening?

Life: Premature substitution is like the unspoken law that you really shouldn't go through the yellow light if you're within a certain distance and can stop reasonably. One split second and you're guilty of running a light. Or better, if you're cheating on the significant other, it would mean you need to dump the mistress/lover before you are within 100 yards of your home and could be seen by the wife/husband/partner. Hey, here's a novel idea: Don't speed up at the yellow light to try and make it and don't cheat on the other person. Some rules are meant to be broken; this isn't one of them. Refusing to play the's everywhere in life. Here are just a few examples you may have seen recently:

Corporate America - when two executives both refuse to take accountability for a bad judgment call that cost the company millions, and they get away with it because they are both just smart enough not to have put it in an email, a memo a Facebook page, or a Twitter feed.

Drivers who sit at a green light, finally go just at the tail end, thus leaving space between both the drivers ahead who already went through and everyone they left behind at the light.

People who are worried the person behind them in Starbucks will get the last doughnut in the little glass case, so they delay by pretending to be unsure about what they want in the grande, non-fat, no whip, sugar-free Hazelnut decaf latte they order every morning, but "while I'm deciding on that, I do know I want that chocolate doughnut."

My penalty: Permanent banishment to a one-gas-station town in Nevada or Arizona (whichever is running out of water faster), where you will get to do nothing but eat chocolate doughnuts every day, three times a day, drive to work through 7 stoplights that only let one car through and that's the one in front of you, and no chance of promotion to a job beyond "specialist," thus ensuring that you will be the only person harmed by your stupidity and overall lack of good judgment and moral fortitude.

Next up on 1/28: Section 9, Other Fouls. Rule 73, Refusing to Start Play.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Day 70, Rule 70

The game: Anaheim vs. Atlanta.

Why I chose it: It's my birthday and I'll ogle cute Swiss goalies if I want to. Even if they're on the losing team.

So, I met the future of the NHL and: They are very tall, they are very smart and they are very cool. If you live in Portland, Oregon, are free from 7 -9 pm on Monday, Feb. 8 or March 8, stop by Stark Street Pizza. It's a super cool, super casual way to meet hockey's future before it starts dating underwear models and driving Ferraris.

The rule: Section 9, Other Fouls. Rule 70, Leaving the Bench.

Number of sections in the rule: 10.

Definition: 70.1, Leaving the Bench. No player may leave the players' or penalty bench at any time during an altercation or for the purpose of starting an altercation. And if you do:

My favorite highlights:

70.2, Legal Line Change. If a player enters the game while play is in progress from his own players' bench or legally from the penalty bench, who starts an altercation is subject to supplementary discipline. Player or players who enter the game on a legal line change change during a stoppage of play who line up in preparation for the ensuing face-off who participate in an altercation will be subject to supplementary discipline. And if you're already on the penalty bench for starting some different crap:

70.4, Leaving the Penalty Bench. A penalized player who leaves the penalty bench before his penalty has expired, whether play is in progress or not, shall incur an additional minor penalty after serving his unexpired penalty. Any player who, having entered the penalty bench, leaves the penalty bench prior to the expiration of his penalty for the purpose of challenging an official's ruling, shall be assessed a game misconduct penalty. He shall also be automatically suspended for the next three (3) regular League and/or playoff games of his Club.

Calling all math majors: 70.10, Fines and Suspensions. For all suspensions imposed on players under this rule, the Club of the player or goalkeeper shall play to the League a sum equal to the pro-rata of that player's salary covered by the suspension. For purposes of computing amounts due for a player's suspension, the player's fixed salary shall be divided by the number of days in the regular season and then, said result shall be multiplied by the number of games suspended. And if the team tries to get around this by reimbursing the player on their own the team is fined $100,000.

The final score: Atlanta 2, Anaheim 1.

Morals of the story:

The game: Don't leave the bench to start a fight, don't follow the guy who leaves the bench to start a fight, don't try to leave legally and then start a fight. In fact, to ensure your safety and that of others, don't even think about leaving the bench to start a fight or even look at another player like you're going to get up and start some business. Fines are too severe, penalties are too lengthy and it's not like you can pass it off as a mistake during a line change. What would be your excuse. "Sorry, Mr. Official, I was just changing up with my teammate here, and I noticed that the opposing player had a little fluffy thing on his jersey and I just went to pick it off and he starting something with me. Must have thought I was starting a fight..."

Life: There are times to sit quietly on the bench and times when it's ok to leave and start some business. It's simple: know the difference and always follow your instincts. For example, if you are sitting in cubeville wondering how and when you sold your dream to the highest bidder who promised a better, more secure life than the one where you subsist on instant coffee and baked beans while you write the next big novel that everyone will read in about 100 years after you've long since died from caffeine poisoning and malnutrition, even though every minute would still be happier than the office-bound prison you live in now...that would be a good time to bust out and make a bigger noise.

Next up on 1/27: Section 9, Other Fouls. Rule 71, Premature Substitution. Rule 72, Refusing to Play the Puck.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Day 68, Rules 68 and 69

The games: Pittsburgh vs. Philadelphia. Portland Winterhawks vs. Vancouver Giants.

Why I chose them: I've committed myself to an all-hockey, all-the-time, four-day weekend. I have to either be there, be watching it or be listening to it. Or, in the case of tomorrow night's Booster Club Stark Street Pizza Night with the players, meeting it.

The rules: Section 9, Other Fouls. Rule 68, Illegal Substitution. Rule 69, Interference on the Goaltender.

Number of sections in the rules: 6 (Rule 68). 7 (Rule 69).


68.1, Illegal Subsitution. An illegal substitution shall be deemed to have occurred when a player enters the game illegally from either the players' bench (teammate not within the five (5) foot limit - refer to Rule 74, Too Many Men on the Ice), from the penalty bench (penalty has not yet expired), when a major penalty is being served and the replacement player does not return to the ice from the penalty bench (see 68.2), or when a player illegally enters the game for the sole purpose of preventing an opposing player from scoring on a breakaway (68.3 and 68.4). If you do enter and try to stop a breakaway, the player you tried to stop is awarded a penalty shot. Players who receive a major and misconduct or game misconduct at the same time or if a penalized player gets injured and can't play, no player but their substitute may enter the game and he must do so from the penalty bench.

69.1, Interference on the Goalkeeper. This rule is based on the premise that an attacking player's position, whether inside or outside the crease, should not, by itself, determine whether a goal should be allowed or disallowed. In other words, goals scored while attacking players are standing in the crease may, in appropriate circumstances be allowed. It goes on to say that the overriding rationale of this rule is that a goalkeeper should have the ability to move freely within his goal crease without being hindered by the actions of an attacking player. If an attacking player enters the crease and, by his actions, impairs the goalkeeper's ability to defend his goal, and a goal is scored, the goal is disallowed.

My favorite highlights: Like all rules that apply to the goaltender, the interference rule is long and complicated. The most detailed part of this rule defines the reasons for which goals are disallowed, which include the following:

-- an attacking player by positioning or contact, interferes with the goalie's ability to move freely within his crease or defend his goal.

-- an attacking player makes intentional or deliberate contact with the goalkeeper inside or outside the crease. If the contact is incidental and occurs ouside the crease and the player made every effort to avoid contact, the goal is allowed.

-- if a goalkeeper, while in the act of establishing position within his goal crease, makes contact with an attacking player and this results in an impairment of the goalkeeper's ability to defend his goal.

-- if, after any contact by a goalkeeper who is attempting to establish position in his goal crease, the attacking player does not immediately give ground to the goalkeeper.

-- if an attacking player establishes a significant position within the crease so as the obstruct the goalkeeper's vision, and impair his ability to defend his goal. Significant position is when a player is within the goal crease for more than an instantaneous period of time.

The rule in action: The officials are just waved off a Vancouver Giants' goal for goaltender interference. No penalty was imposed.

The final scores: Pittsburgh 2, Philadelphia 1. Portland 3, Vancouver 1. It was the Winterhawks' first win against Vancouver in three years, ending a 13-game losing streak against the Giants.

Morals of the story:

The game: Don't screw with the goaltender, accidentally or otherwise. And if you are the goaltender, stay where you are, dude. As for the illegal substitution, do the math. How does a team get away with that one? There are four guys on the ice, a goal judge, a video goal judge, a penalty timekeeper and a real-time scorer watching, not to mention the network or Comcast broadcasters who can provide video footage. You can try it, but beware of the NHL version of big brother watching you.

Life: Why don't we have the goalkeeper interference rule in life? If we are defending our homes, working hard to keep our jobs, driving safely so as to protect ourselves and others, we should be able to do so unhindered. Here are a few things for which I would impose an "Interference on the Goalkeeper" penalty:

-- Offense: Establishing position in the neighbor's yard by letting your dog go poo and then not picking up after him, blockading his driveway by parking in front of it or by getting drunk at his Christmas party and passing out in the guest bathroom. Penalty: No future invites to the holiday party; removal of your vehicle by a tow truck, which will then double park it next to the cop car that belongs to a different neighbor, leaving you to explain yourself to said authority; and retaliation at the neighbor's discretion in the form of his dog peeing on your prize-winning tomato plants, taking a weed whacker to your rose bush or other punishment of the neighbor's choosing.

-- Offense: Interfering with a work colleague's ability to do their job and complete a project by "stopping the presses" on a nearly-completed project at the 11th hour just because you can. Penalty: Everyday you come into work, for the first three hours (at a minimum), everyone else will be permitted to enter your office every 30 seconds unannounced with a project that must be completed ASAP, guaranteeing you'll never get it done, you'll get reprimanded by higher ups for "not delivering on promises for deliverable timelines" and you will be put on probation while said colleague finishes previous project and gets promoted to that office you've been coveting because it has a view of the hot 25-year-old tenant in the building across the street.

Next up on 1/25: Section 9, Other Fouls. Rule 70, Leaving the Bench.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Day 66, Rules 66 and 67

The games: Anaheim vs. St. Louis, Chicago vs. Vancouver.

Why I chose them: Cutie pie Swiss goalie is starting for Anaheim, and since the Portland Winterhawks' own Brett Ponich was drafted by the Blues, I feel obliged to pay more attention these days. The other is a match-up between two Stanley Cup playoff teams: it's a no-brainer.

The rules: Section 9, Other Fouls. Rule 66, Forfeit of Game. Rule 67, Handling Puck.

Number of sections in the rules: 1 (Rule 66). 6 (Handling Puck).


66.1, Forfeit of Game. In the event of failure by a club to comply with a provision of the League constitution, by-laws, resolutions, rules or regulations affecting the playing of a game, the Referee shall, if so directed by the Commissioner or his designee, refuse to permit the game to proceed until the offending Club comes into compliance with such provision. Should the offending club persist in its refusal to come into compliance, the Referee shall, with the prior approval of the Commissioner or his designee, declare the game forfeited and the non-offending Club the winner. It goes on to state that if both teams persist in refusing to comply, the game is forfeited and the visiting team is declared the winner.

67.1, Handling Puck. A player shall be permitted to stop or "bat" a puck in the air with his open hand, or push it along the ice with his hand, and the play shall not be stopped unless, in the opinion of the on-ice officials, he has deliberately directed the puck to a teammate, or has allowed his team to gain an advantage, in any zone other than the defending zone, in which case the play shall be stopped and a face-off conducted (see Rule 79 - Hand Pass). Play will not be stopped for any hand pass by players in their own defending zone.

My favorite highlights:

Second half of 66.1. If the game is declared forfeited prior to its having commenced, the score shall be recorded as 1-0 and no player shall be credited with any personal statistics. If the game was in progress, the score is recorded as 0 for the loser and 1 or, if greater, the number of goals scored and players are credited with their personal statistics.

67.2, Minor Penalty - Player. A player shall be permitted to catch the puck out of the air but must immediately place it or knock it down to the ice. If he catches it and skates with it, either to avoid a check or to gain a territorial advantage over his opponent, a minor penalty shall be assessed for "closing his hand on the puck." A minor penalty shall be imposed who, while play is in progress, picks up the puck off the ice with his hand.

As always, the penalties for goaltenders are far more complicated. Take this snippet from 67.3, Minor Penalty - Goalkeeper. A goalkeeper who holds the puck with his hands for longer than three seconds shall be given a minor penalty unless he is actually being checked by an opponent. The object of this entire rule is to keep the puck in play continuously and any action taken by the goalkeeper which causes an unnecessary stoppage must be penalized without warning. A goalkeeper shall be assessed a minor penalty when he deliberately holds the puck in any manner which, in the opinion of the Referee, causes an unnecessary stoppage of play. A minor penalty can also be assessed to the goalkeeper for the following:
-- throwing the puck towards the opponent's net. Goal is allowed and there's no penalty if the non-offending team comes into possession of the puck and scores.
-- deliberately dropping the puck into his pads or onto the goal net.
-- deliberately piling up snow or obstacles near the net that would prevent the scoring of a goal.

Final scores: St. Louis 3, Anaheim 3 at the end of regulation (all three Ducks goals were scored in the last 15 minutes of the third period). It's going to a shootout.

Morals of the story:

The game: How stupid and arrogant do you have to be to cause a forfeit of game, especially if you're the home team? There's no advantage in terms of the score, you just cost all the other players their chance at racking up some stats and fans get royally pissed they'll miss a game for which they payed good money. File it under not cool, dude. Ditto for doing obvious crap like picking the puck up off the ice or stuff like piling up snow or dropping the puck into your pads. If you're gonna do it, at least play like a true hockey unfair and try to hide it.

Life: Handling the puck is a good rule for life. Keep the game in motion and don't slow it down or screw it up with stupid stuff. It's easy to be tempted along the path of life by the equivalent of holding the puck, but in the end it only leads to a stoppage of play and a minor penalty. Here are just a few things for which we should be hit with a minor penalty if we handle the puck to gain an advantage:

-- Cheating "just a little" on your income taxes in order to keep the money for yourself to reinvest in Wall Street or go on a four-star vacation. Minor penalty: A year-long audit of every 1040, W-2 and whatever that you ever cheated on, in a small room with one flourescent bulb and an IRS agent with coffee breath, and a full repayment of said taxes, with 50 percent interest.

-- Pirating of your next door neighbor's cable, 'cause, hey he's got a Princeton degree and a cushy day job and he can afford to miss a few movies and sporting events now and again so I can take what life didn't give me. Minor penalty: Being blacklisted at Comcast so you'll never be able to get your own cable, even if you can afford it one day, and having a little chip put into your computer that would prevent you from watching free episodes of anything online (exception: bad network sitcoms with laugh tracks, which you can watch in abundance).

Next up on 1/24: Section 9, Other Fouls. Rule 68, Illegal Substitution. Rule 69, Interference on the Goalkeeper.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Day 64, Rules 64 and 65

In case you're keeping track: There are 22 days to the Olympic opening ceremoney and 22 rules to go. I think I can, I think I can, I think I can.

The games: Pittsburgh vs. Washington, Anaheim vs. San Jose. Portland Winterhawks vs. Kamloops Blazers (WHL, game on 1/20).

Why I chose them: It's a Stanley Cup rematch and my favorite Swiss Goalie is in the net on Thursday, which is the new Friday.

Ooh! Did I say that out loud?: I admit it, I kind of wanted Kamloops to win last night, so Kurtis Mucha could have a little vengeance on his former home ice. There. I said it. Now I feel better.

Note to Ian Curtis: Ok, here's the deal. I've sat in just about every section this year, including the nosebleed section at the Dec. 29 game, where yes, I waited the full hour and 45 minutes for the game to start and stayed to the end. And I can tell you that based on what I've heard around me, we do believe in you. We love our town and we love people who love our town. But we also loved Kurtis. All we ask from you in return is that you believe in yourself. Translation: No more letting 3 goals through in the first period against Tri-Cities. Feb. 10, I'm bringing friends and we come seeking revenge. Here is our motto (well, ok, it's my motto, but they can sit there and like it): The Tri-City Americans are toast. Hey, worked for the Chilliwack game (see previous entry).

The rules: Section 9, Other Fouls. Rule 64, Diving/Embellishment and Rule 65, Equipment.

Number of sections in the rules: 3 (Rule 64). 2 (Rule 65).

The quirk: The equipment rule actually appears earlier in the rule book in Section 3, Equipment, Rule 14, Adjustment to Clothing or Equipment.

Definitions: 64.1, Diving and Embellishment. Any player who blatantly dives, embellishes a fall or reaction, or who feigns an injury shall be penalized with a minor penalty under this rule. A goalkeeper who deliberately initiates contact with an attacking player other than to establish position in the crease, or who otherwise acts to create the appearance of other than incidental contact with an attacking player, is subject to the assessment of a minor penalty for diving/embellishment.

65.1, Equipment. As I stated in a very early entry (Day 14, Rule 14), this is the "don't even bother, just get out and adjust your equipment" rule.

My favorite highlight: Why don't they just call this what it is: 64.1, Faking Injuries to Gain a Man-Advantage When Everything Else You're Doing Isn't Working. Which I would imagine is why the League invented these punishments:

64.2, Minor Penalty. A minor penalty shall be imposed on player who attempts to draw a penalty by his actions ("diving/embellisment"). 64.3, Fines and Suspensions. Regardless if a minor penalty for diving/embellishment is called, Hockey Operations will review game videos and assess fines to players who dive or embellish a fall or a reaction, or who feign injury. The first such incident will result in a warning letter sent to the player. The second such incident will result in a one thousand dollar ($1000) fine. For a third such incident in the season, the player shall be suspended for one game, pending a phone conversation with the Director of Hockey Operations.

Final scores: Washington 5, Pittsburgh 3. Winterhawks 5, Kamloops 2. Anaheim 0, San Jose 0 in the 1st period.

Morals of the story:

The game: I want to see what the letter to the player says:

Dear Hockey Player,

This letter is to remind you of the penalties associated with being caught in the act of being a liar and a pussy during your little display of total immaturity and unsportsmanlike conduct on Friday night. In addition to the well-deserved minor penalty you have already received, you will also have $1000 subtracted from your total salary of $25 million for this year. We realize that this will have a minimal impact on your salary and accompanying lavish superstar lifestyle. Therefore, if you insist upon being a little drama queen, you will be suspended for a period of one game. In addition, please note that your actions may result in your being permanently shunned by fans, opposing teams, your own teammates and coaches, and intelligent, free-thinking citizens everywhere.

And finally, please note that your actions have been reviewed by video and may not be disputed by you or your team under any circumstances.

Director of Hockey Operations

Or, even better, the phone conversation: Look, dumb-ass, get your crap together and don't do it again. Fans hate you, players think you're a wuss and you are an embarrassment to the sport. And by the way, the ladies think it's the act of a pussy, so you're not attracting their attention either. Now, go home and think it over.

Life: I would classify the following life blunders as the equivalent of diving/embellishment:

-- Talking on a cell phone to no one in a loud voice in thoroughly inappropriate locations like morning bus rides, Starbucks lines and movie theatres, so the people around you have no choice but to tolerate a fake conversation you are having to demonstrate how important you think you are. Like diving, all you're doing is annoying other people and embarrassing yourself. No, I don't do this. I need special help to plug my cell phone into the charger. The one time I got a text message, I needed the instruction booklet to figure out how to delete it.

-- 20-something women who wear skinny jeans, a sparkly tank top and five-inch red stilletto stripper heels to a hockey game on a Wednesday night. Yes, this happened the other night at a Winterhawks game. First, it's hovering around 40 degrees in that rink - most fans are wearing fleece, a small space heater and sweaters. You will stand out, which is of course the point, but here's the thing: the players are too busy watching what's right in front of them to notice what's in the audience. The only men noticing this poor girl were married, beer-bellied, foul-mouthed truck drivers who had knocked a few back by the second period. Want to meet the players, go to a Fred Meyer autograph session. Note to other fans who may be in said store at the time of said event, if you hear the announcement "clean up in aisle 5! Ma'am. Ma'am, put the Winterhawks down and walk away" you'll know why.

Next up on 1/22: Section 9, Other Fouls. Rule 66, Forfeit of Game and Rule 67, Handling Puck.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Day 62, Rules 62 and 63

The games: New York Islanders vs. Pittsburgh, Anaheim vs. Buffalo.

Why I chose them: It's the Pens barreling at high speed out of a losing streak. If the right netminders are in the net for the Ducks and the Sabres, it's picnic time for goalie groupies.

The quirks: The goalies' last names rhyme (Hiller and Miller). If Kurtis Mucha hadn't been traded, the Winterhawks' goalies first and last names would have been the same.

Reason to get up at 6 am tomorrow for an early start with a "Power Breakfast" at the Governor Hotel: After more than a week of no live hockey in Portland, the Winterhawks return to home ice at 7 pm, and former goalie Kurtis Mucha will be honored before the Winterhawks game against his new team, the Kamloops Blazers. Ian Curtis will presumably be at the other end minding our net. With his fancy new homage-to-Portland helmet, thank you. Definitely picnic time for goalie groupies.

Portlanders, we know we're in the big time when: has a video and little headline calling out Nino's one-handed goal at the prospects game. For non-Portlanders and/or non-Winterhawks fans: Google Nino Niederreiter. If you don't know him yet, you will.

The rules: Section 8, Stick Fouls. Rule 62, Spearing. Rule 63, Delaying the Game.

Number of sections in the rules: 6 (Rule 62). 7 (Rule 63). Extra note: One of the longest sections in any rule so far is 63.2, Minor Penalty. It starts at the top of page 87 and ends near the bottom of page 88.

Definitions: 62.1, Spearing. Spearing shall mean stabbing an opponent with the print of the stick blade, whether contact is made or not. 63.1, Delaying the Game. A player or team may be penalized when, in the opinion of the Referee, is delaying the game in any manner.

Choice bits and highlights: 63.2, Minor Penalty. I want to see this one: If a goalkeeper comes out of his crease to "cut down the angle" on a shot and after making the save covers the puck, this shall be legal. If the goalkeeper races out his crease in an attempt to beat the attacking player to the puck and instead of playing the puck jumps on the puck causing a stoppage of play, this shall be a minor penalty for delay of game. Excuse me, since when do goalies go "racing out of the crease?" Besides, how are they supposed to play the puck, when two paragraphs later the rule states "a goalkeeper shall not play the puck outside of the designated area behind the net."

63.4, Objects Thrown on the Ice. When objects are thrown on the ice during a stoppage of play, including after the scoring of a goal, the Referee shall have announced over the public address system that any further occurrences will result in a bench minor penalty being assessed to the home Team. So, fans, if you want to obstruct justice, as it were, you're not helping your team. But there is one exception, of course....Articles thrown onto the ice following a special occasion (i.e. hat trick) will not result in a bench minor penalty being assessed.

And lastly, 63.5, Penalty Shot. No defending player, except the goalkeeper, will be permitted to fall on the puck, hold the puck, pick up the puck or gather the puck into the body or hands when the puck is within the goal crease. So, leave it to the professionals, you players, and don't look at the puck, don't touch the puck, don't feed the puck snacks.

Infractions for which penalties, penalty shots or awarded goals may be imposed include:

-- Deliberately shooting the puck out of play.
-- Shooting or batting the puck (with the hand or stick) over the glass from the defending zone.
-- Refusing to put the correct number of players on the ice. Oh please, get over it. You're not gonna win this one.
-- Persisting in having players in an off-side position. Again, get over it. Not helping.

The final scores: Pittsburgh 6, Islanders 4, courtesty of a Malkin hat trick. Official status of his scoring slump: OVER. DONE. FINITO. Anaheim is up by 4 -0 at the end of the first. Oh crap! Buffalo just scored twice in the first minute of the second. And it's all downhill from here: Belesky just accidentally whacked Ryan Getzlaf in the head. But wait, Dan Sexton's out on the ice and uninjured - all is not lost when Anaheim's young upstart is on the scoring prowl.

The morals of the story:

The game: Oh. I get it now. This is the "I'm young and strong but there's been three road games in a row and we're losing and injured and we have a 6 hour flight after this game, even I need sleep and protein and I'm exhausted and I've tried to get past these opponents all night, they're pissing me off and we've only gotten five shots on goal and I give up, I need a break" rule.

Life: We have a word for this rule in life: it's called fear. The ultimate delay of game technique. For our own good, these are the types of things for which we should be penalized if we delay our own game:

-- Offense: Not writing that best selling novel, play, movie script or writing it and not trying to sell it, making the excuse that it will never get published anyway because all those agents and professional organizations tell you at annual meetings and power lunches that they don't take unsolicited manuscripts and you have to have an agent to get seen by a publishing company, but you can't get an agent because they only take on authors who are recommended to them by other agents or were already published. Or, if you do get published, the fear it will tank and you'll develop writer's block and never write another masterpiece. Penalty: Being purposefully embedded with writer's block and put on a publishers' black list, and watching with "well if she did it, I could have" envy while the 25 year old upstart in your office who was also writing a novel in her spare time breaks on through and defies the odds because she was willing to believe and be unafraid.

-- Offense: Being afraid to do whatever (pick the dream of your choice) because you're worred you'll fail miserably or have to suffer some form of public humiliation and personal criticism as a result. And, to make yourself feel better, criticizing other people who did take the chance and did well, but all you can say is how they're probably not really that happy or they got the dream by cheating or some other illicit means. Or, this classic: "I could have done that, but...fill in the excuse of your choice. Penalty: If you're doing this, you're living the worst punishment already. Nobody knows you, cares about you or has any opinion of you at all. While you sit alone in your little apartment and read about other people who were willing to risk the humiliation to get what they wanted, they are out there right now living your dream. Here's the thing: in 2001, Erik Weihenmeyer became the first blind man to summit Mt. Everest. Oh, and by the way, he also holds a master's degree and has summited Mt. Kilimanjaro. Thanks to him, there is no excuse for the rest of us. Zip. Zilch.

Next up on 1/21: Section 9, Other Fouls. Rule 64, Diving/Embellishment.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Day 60, Rules 60 and 61

The game: Detroit vs. Chicago.

Why I chose it: It's Sunday, there's hockey in high-def. It's an original six match-up. Enough said.

My peeve, sort of: Both games I was watching last night ended disastrously, but it's a big week in Portland as we bid temporary farewell and best wishes to four players for the prospects game and we welcome Kurtis Mucha back to town. Win or lose, Wednesday night should be very interesting here in the Rose City.

The rules: Section 8, Stick Fouls. Rule 60, High-sticking. Rule 61, Slashing.

Number of sections in the rules: 6 (Rule 60). 8 (Rule 61).

Definitions: 60.1, High-sticking. A "high stick" is one which is carried above the height of the opponent's shoulders. Players must be in control and responsible for their stick. However, a player is permitted accidental contact on an opponent if the act is committed as a normal windup or follow through of a shooting motion, or accidental contact on the opposing center who is bent over during the course of a face-off. A wild swing at a bouncing puck would not be considered a normal windup or follow through and any contact to an opponent above the height of the shoulders shall be penalized accordingly.

61.1, Slashing. Slashing is the act of swinging his stick at an opponent, whether contact is made or not. Non-agressive stick contact to the pant or front of the shin pads, should not be penalized as slashing. Any forceful or powerful chop with the stick on an opponent's body, the opponent's stick, or on or near the opponent's hand that, in the judgment of the Referee, is not at attempt to play the puck, shall be penalized as slashing. Minor penalty is imposed for slashing, and a major is imposed if injury occurs.

My favorite highlights: 60.5, Goals. An apparent goal scored by an attacking player who strikes the puck with his stick carried above the height of the crossbar of the goal frame shall not be allowed. The determining factor is where the puck makes contact with the stick. If the puck makes contact with the stick below the level of the crossbar and enters the goal, this goal shall be allowed. A goal scored by a defending player who strikes the puck with his stick carried above the height of the crossbar of the goal frame shall be allowed.

The final score: Chicago 4, Detroit 3 (SO).

The morals of the story:

The game: So, basically, if you are stupid enough to be behind a guy while he's setting up for a slapshot and you get hit, sorry Charlie. That's hockey. I love this one -- "players must be in control and responsible for their stick." Oh yeah, those are two things that are plentiful supply in the NHL: control and responsibility.

Life: This is the hockey version of "no harm, no foul." It's like, if you take a swing at somebody, no problem as long as you don't land the punch and hurt someone. But in life, we don't get the privilege of no punishment for accidental contact. If we windup and hit somebody in the process, we go down. For example:

-- Offense: Accidentally tapping another car in the parking lot while trying to wedge your SUV into a space meant for a smart car. Penalty: A blemish on your driving/car insurance record and a lot of really lame paperwork.

-- Offense: Reaching across the little table with milk and napkins and plastic stirrers at Starbucks and knocking a $7 latte all over someone else. Penalty: Total embarrassment, being called out and yelled at by the victim of your clutziness and $7 plus that person's dry cleaning bill. Or, if you live in the United States, land of the free and home of the legal loophole, a lawsuit for punitive damages and emotional distress.

Next up on 1/19: Section 8, Stick Fouls. Rule 62, Spearing. Section 9, Other Fouls. Rule 63, Delaying the Game.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Day 58, Rules 58 and 59

The games: Pittsburgh vs. Vancouver and Portland Winterhawks vs. Tri-Cities.

Why I chose them: Pittsburgh vs. Vancouver was my backup in case I couldn't get Olympic tickets. Sadly, neither worked out, because I discovered that getting tickets to see the defending champions on their one swing through Western Canada is just as futile and expensive and nabbing tickets for the Olympics.
Portland has lost every matchup with Tri-Cities so far. I think that will be enough of that.

Weird connection between the 2 games: Tri-Cities' Russian goalie has been called up by Pittsburgh as backup, since Marc-Andre Fleury is injured.

Yes, I know I need an intevention: I'm listening to the Winterhawks game and watching the Pittsburgh game simultaneously.

Good and bad news for Winterhawks fans: Brad Ross, after initially being snubbed, is going to the prospects game after all. The bummer is that the Nino-Johansen-Ross line will be gone for the hotly anticipated Kamloops game on Wednesday, along with defenseman Troy Rutkowski.

The rules: Section 8, Stick Fouls. Rule 58, Butt-ending. Rule 59, Cross-checking.

Number of sections in the rules: 6 (Rule 58 and 59).

Definitions: 58.1, Butt-ending. The action whereby a player uses the shaft of the stick, above the upper hand, to check an opposing player in any manner or jabs or attempts to jab an opposing player with this part of the stick. Penalties range from a double-minor to fines and suspensions. 59.1, Cross-checking. The action of using the shaft of the stick between the two hands to forcefully check an opponent. Penalties range from minor to fines and suspensions.

My favorite highlights: 58.6, Fines and Suspensions. When a major penalty and game misconduct are imposed under this rule, an automatic fine of one hundred dollars ($100) will be imposed. 59.6, Fines and Suspensions. When a major penalty is imposed under this rule, an automatic fine of one hundred dollars ($100) shall also be imposed.

Morals of the story:

The game: Basically, these are two halves of one rule. I thought cross-checking was like checking from behind, only from the side. And if you think that's stupid, wait until you find out what I thought icing was. Also, is a $100 fine really going to stop a player who makes $15 million a year? I think not. Maybe if the fine was taking away your fancy sports car and super-model girlfriend for six months, then yes, I'm sure players would think more than twice before poking somebody forcefully with their stick.

Life: Let's face it, we've all done this and we've all had it done to us. Don't think so? If you've done one of these, you've been guilty:

-- Tailgating and flashing the headlights on slow drivers ahead of you in traffic.
-- Encroaching on "the bubble" to get people ahead of you in a slow line to move faster, which won't actually work because it's held up by someone who has 50 coupons and wants to pay half with cash and half with their debit card.
--Putting your backpack in the seat next to you on the bus or slouching so half your body slides over into said seat, in order to prevent someone from sitting next to you.
-- (Limited to New York, I hope): Putting your groceries on the automated belt just an inch back while the person in front of you is still loading theirs, because God forbid, you should have to use the little plastic divider thingy and wait a whole 30 seconds before doing so. Similar attempt to get through the subway window by physically encroaching on the person ahead and trying to slide your money into the slot from the left side while the person ahead is still getting their change. Yes, both of these things happened to me in New York, the former on a regular basis. And for the record, I've only hit someone once in my life and the subway dude was it.

Next up on 1/17: Section 8, Stick Fouls. Rule 60, High-sticking. Rule 61, Slashing.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Day 57, Rule 57

The game: Anaheim vs. LA Kings and Pittsburgh vs. Edmonton.

Why I chose it: The Freeway face-off includes Jonas Hiller in the net, and Anze Kopitar in the starting line-up. The Ducks are on a comeback with a capital C and my favorite Swiss goalie is on fire. Dan Bylsma is testing out the Malkin-Talbot-Fedotenko line. Most inspired. Games on.

Proof that head hits/injuries do in fact cause long-term, irreversible brain damage: The whole Burrows debacle and fine.

The rule: Section 7, Restraining Fouls. Rule 57, Tripping.

Number of sections in the rule: 4.

Definition: 57.1, Tripping. A player shall not place the stick, knee, foot, arm, hand or elbow in such a manner that causes his opponent to trip or fall. Accidental trips which occur simultaneously with a completed play will not be penalized. Accidental trips occurring simultaneously with or after a stoppage of play will not be penalized. If, in the opinion of the Referee, a player makes contact with the puck first and subsequently trips the opponent in so doing, no penalty shall be assessed.

My favorite highlight: I thought you just went to the box for 2 minutes for this one. Which is true, but there's also this run on sentence/rule: 57.3, Penalty Shot. When a player, in the neutral or attacking zone, in control of the puck (or who could have obtained possession and control of the puck) and having no other opponent to pass than the goalkeeper, is tripped or otherwise fouled from behind, thus preventing a reasonable scoring opportunity, a penalty shot shall be awarded to the non-offending team. Nevertheless, the Referee shall not stop play until the attacking team has lost possession of the puck to the defending team. The intention of this rule (and penalty shots in general) is to restore a scoring opportunity that was lost. "Control of the puck" means the act of propelling the puck with the stick, hand or feet.

Ok, now my head hurts: It should be noted that if the attacking player manages to get around the goalkeeper and has no defending player between him and the open goal, and he is fouled from behind by the goalkeeper or another defending player, no goal can be awarded since the goalkeeper is still on the ice. A penalty shot would be awarded. Help me understand this -- "since the goalkeeper is still on the ice?" So, if the goalie is not on the ice and somehow magically fouls somebody from behind...the goal is awarded? Clearly, the random drug screening program at the NHL needs to be re-examined, because this could not have been written by someone who was stone-cold sober.

The final scores: Anaheim's down by 3 in the 2nd, Pittsburgh's up by 1 in the 3rd. Hiller just got pulled. And it's going downhill from there. The refs are being very generous with the Abuse of Officials rule, because it looks like Randy Carlyle just told the linesman to go screw himself about 50 times. 6 minutes into the 3rd period, and no fewer than 3 fights have been broken up.

Note to critics of super-cute Swiss goalies: Give him a break. Even Superman ran into a little Kryptonite now and again. In case you missed the last week of Ducks games, Hiller is a huge reason Anaheim has turned around and come within 4 points of a playoff berth, and he did it in back-to-back games.

The morals of the story:

The game: I like my two minute minor penalty assumption better...fewer migraines. But I see why all restraining fouls come with a penalty shot attached. These fouls are committed to interfere with a scoring opportunity and even in hockey, the most unfair of all sports, lost opportunities will not go unpunished. Fairness, with a small f. And of course, as always, if the goalie does anything except stop the puck, he's penalized.

Life: Like hockey, tripping and falling down are part of the game and getting back up is often easier than we think. We don't get penalty shots in life...but we do get to choose whether and how we get back up. Me personally, I've tripped many times over and I intend to a few more times before it's all said and done. Look at it this way...when you're shopping at Powell's for a you immediately go for the book about the girl who was born with a silver spoon in her mouth and graduated to platinum and wants to tell you how you too can get through life without getting any of it on you? Is reality television the dominant form of programming on TV because we love watching people with perfect lives? No. We want to read the comeback story. We want to watch Tiger Woods crash into a fire hydrant (literally and figuratively) because it makes us feel better about our own failures. I say trip, fall and get back up. Repeat. Trust me, it will get easier and you will get smarter.

Next up on 1/16: Section 8, Stick Fouls. Rule 58, Butt-ending. Rule 59, Cross-checking.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Day 56, Rule 56

The games: Pittsburgh vs. Calgary, Anaheim vs. Boston (NHL) and Winterhawks vs. Kamloops (WHL).

Why I chose them: I have to go 11 days without live hockey here in Portland, so I'm staving off withdrawal. Also, tonight is the first time that longtime goalie and beloved former Portland Winterhawk Kurtis Mucha faces off against his former teammates after being traded last fall. Jonas Hiller is in net and Anaheim's on the comeback trail. I don't care if Malkin's in a slump, I'm all in for Pittsburgh.

Note to non-Portlanders: Kurtis Mucha was a very bright star in some very dark years for the Winterhawks. He is still loved here in the Rose City and fans' excitement is already building for the Portland-Kamloops game on home ice next Wednesday.

Proof I need an intervention, but I may be beyond help: I'm listening to Andy Kemper's pre-show on 970 AM, watching Pittsburgh vs. Calgary and I'm about to add Winterhawks vs. Kamloops to the mix. I'll be tuning in to Anaheim vs. Boston momentarily.

The rule: Section 7, Restraining Fouls. Rule 56, Interference.

Number of sections in the rule: 7.

Definition: At last, a rule where there's no room for interpretation. This specifically states that "a strict standard on acts of interference must be adhered to in all areas of the rink."

Here's the deal with "body position": Body position shall be determined as the player skating in front of or beside his opponent, traveling in the same direction. A player is allowed the ice he is standing on (body position) and is not required to move in order to let an opponent to proceed. Moving laterally and without establishing body position, then making contact with the non-puck carrier is not permitted and will be penalized as interference. Possession of the puck is defined as the last player to touch the puck, other than the goaltender.

Here's one I've never even heard of: A "pick" is the action of a player who checks an opponent who is not in possession of the puck and is not aware of the impending check/hit. A player who is aware of an impending hit, not deemed to be a legal "battle for the puck," may not be interfered with by a player or goalkeeper delivering a "pick." A player delivering a "pick" is one who moves into an opponent's path without initially having body position, thereby taking him out of the play. When this is done, an interference penalty shall be assessed.

But wait, it gets better (my favorite highlight): 56.2, Minor Penalty. A minor penalty shall be imposed on a player who interferes with or impedes the progress of an opponent who is not in possession of the puck. Minor penalty is assessed on the following (including but not limited to):

-- an attacker who deliberately checks a defensive player who is not in possession of the puck.

--a player who causes a player not in possession of the puck to be forced off-sides.

--a player who deliberately knocks a stick out of an opponent's hand.

--a player who knocks or shoots any abandoned or broken stick or illegal puck or other debris towards an opposing carrier in a manner that could cause him to be distracted.

Morals of the story:

The game: Dudes, just say no to this one. It's not tolerated, it's got no wiggle room and it carries penalties for just about every way it could be attempted. In the midst of watching three games and listening to Andy at once, I've noticed this one doesn't happen a lot, so the dudes must know going for this one isn't cool. Oh wait, somebody just gave Brad Ross the interference business behind the Kamloops net. we go, what goes around just came around. Brad and Nino just landed in the box.

Life: This is like the hockey equivalent of "when bad things happen to good people" who weren't even carrying the puck get "picked," checked, whatever. There's no mercy in hockey and there shouldn't be any in life either. Here are just a few of the things for which I would impose a minor penalty for interference in life:

-- Offense: Any person who does not have the right or permit to do so, but who parks in the special handicapped parking spots for "just a few seconds" in the 7-11 lot because they were too lazy to park one spot over and walk their lazy ass in to get the super-sized Super Gulp, thus leaving the person who really needed the space in the lurch. Penalty: Special feature built into your car that will cause your car to break down right as you're turning into the 7-11 parking lot, forcing you to walk..oh no, the horror...several feet to the store.

--Offense: Any popular high school beauty queen, cheerleader, homecoming queen, etc. who pretends to like the geeky girl to enlist said nerd's help in boosting her GPA, only to cut off the friendship once she gets the good grades and the spot at Harvard that should have gone to geek girl, but didn't because smart but nerdy girl's parents didn't pay for a new libarary wing. Penalty: Automatic reduction in GPA back to what it would have been if the beauty queen had never met the geek, retraction of the spot at Harvard, which will then be given to said geek, and permanent exile of beauty queen to a small, non fashion-forward town where she will be forced to grow old without the help of hair dye, botox, breast implants or any other plastic surgeries.

Next up on 1/14: Section 7, Restraining Fouls. Rule 57, Tripping.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Day 54, Rules 54 and 55

The game: Pittsburgh vs. Minnesota.

Why I chose it: The Pens have been on a losing streak, and I have personally decided as a fan that we're done with that now.

My peeve: Perhaps I should have sent a memo about being finito with the losing. Final score: Minnesota 4, Pittsburgh 3.

The rules: Section 7, Restraining Fouls. Rule 54, Holding. Rule 55, Hooking.

Number of sections in the rules: 4 (Rule 54). 7 (Rule 55).

Definitions: 54.1, Holding. Any action by a player that restrains or impedes the progress of an opposing player whether or not he is in possession of the puck. 55.1, Hooking. Hooking is the act of using the stick in a manner that enables a player to restrain an opponent. When a player is checking another in such a way that there is only stick-to-stick contact, such action is not to be penalized as hooking.

My favorite highlights: 54.2, Minor Penalty. A minor penalty shall be imposed on a player who holds an opponent by using his hands, arms or legs. A player is permitted to use his arm in a strength move, by blocking his opponent, provided he has body position and is not using his hands in a holding manner, when doing so. A player is not permitted to hold an opponent's stick. A minor penalty shall be assessed to a player who holds an opponent's stick (assessed and announced as "holding the stick"). A player is permitted to protect himself by defending against an opponent's stick. He must immediately release the stick and allow the player to resume normal play.

55.2, Minor Penalty. A minor penalty shall be imposed on a player who impedes the progress of an opponent by "hooking" with his stick. A minor penalty for hooking shall be assessed to any player who uses the shaft of the stick above the upper hand to hold or hook an opponent.

55.3, Major Penalty. A major penalty shall be imposed on any player who injures an opponent by "hooking."

Morals of the story:

The game: I see why these are next to each other in the rulebook. If a player tries to hook another, the player who was hooked can defend himself provided he doesn't do it by holding. This rule needs a visual aid/diagram...what exactly qualifies as a "strength move" and "body position?" Is this a way of saying as long as you're bigger and stronger than the other guy, you can defend yourself? It makes no sense...shouldn't it be the opposite? Provided the attacker has body position and greater strength, you can do what you have to. Oh right...this is hockey...logic has no more place in the rulebook than fairness. And let's face it, is a player really going to think about "uh oh. I'm holding....two minutes, better stop right here." No. He's going to do what he has to, no matter what. Screw you and put me in the box, thank you very much.

Life: Restraint, sadly, is everywhere in life, whether we do it to ourselves or someone does it to us. It's easy to direct our anger at others who impede us, but what about the things we do to hold up our own progress? Aha. Now that's not so easy, is it? I say we should have a hooking and holding rule for every time we hold ourselves back in life.

The offense: Thinking "I'm too tired to go to the gym and get my 18-year-old body back. I'll just sit here and drink a beer instead."

The punishment: Sitting on the couch with carbs is what we call a self-promoting enterprise. Do it enough and it becomes its own punishment. If you do it once a week to take a break from the gym, no penalty shall be assessed. However, if you sit on the couch in such a manner so as to accelerate the natural progression of fat, cellulite and old age, a time machine should be automatically turned on at NASA that hones in on your ass and expands it at double the rate for every night you do this.

The offense: That dream will never come true. It's too hard. I'm not good enough. I'll fail anyway. It's too much risk. It's too pie in the sky. That's stupid. It will never happen. Blah, blah, blah.

The punishment: Never getting a second chance to see if you can try again and be good enough, smart enough, etc. You fall back, you stay back.

Note to anyone who's even thinking about giving up before you even do it, whatever "it" is: I took the chance. I went to New York. And in 10 years, along with a lot of really good times (including travel to London, Spain, France, Italy, Montreal and the ice rink where the US Hockey Team won the gold medal), I also lived in an apartment building where I'm pretty sure illegal business of some sort was transpiring in the apartment above me and I had a neighbor who liked to put up bookshelves at 2 in the morning, a boyfriend (or two or three) who happened to have another girlfriend on the side, served on jury duty in an ax murder trial, got mugged, and just happened to be on my way to work down the street from the Trade Center on September 11. In the last year I lived there, I was fired twice in one year and I lived in an apartment with no couch and a view of a brick wall.

But I took the chance and I got the second one. I live in Portland in a penthouse with a fireplace, a deck, a view of Beaverton and the coast range, a washer/dryer and a foofoo couch that I sometimes fall asleep on its so comfortable. I park my Mini Cooper in my free covered parking space, I have a master's degree on my wall and a steady job in a bad economy. And hey, I started this blog and rediscovered hockey. No pressure, but if I were you -- and I was -- I'd do whatever it is. I loved New York. It just didn't love me.

Up next on 1/13: Section 7, Restraining Fouls. Rule 56, Interference. Preview: this rule explains the "body position" dilemma.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Day 52, Rules 52 and 53

The game: Portland Winterhawks vs. Chilliwack Bruins.

The final score: Portland 3, Chilliwack 1 (Toast - as predicted, thank you). Luke brought the bling and Nino brought...well, Nino. What else do we need?

My peeve: I think I might have cursed the possibility of a shutout. Somewhere in the second period, I was thinking wow, Ian Curtis is playing really well, how cool would a shutout be? Two seconds later, Chilliwack dinked one in. Oy! Sorry boys, I promise never to even THINK about it again. Still, Ian was the second star of the night, so all's well that ends well.

The rules: Section 6, Physical Fouls. Rule 52, Slew-footing. Rule 53, Throwing Equipment.

Number of sections in rules: 3 (Rule 52), 8 (Rule 53).

Definitions: 52.1, Slew-footing. Slew-footing is the act of a player using his leg or foot to knock or kick an opponent's feet from under him, or pushes an opponent's upper body backward with an arm or elbow, and at the same time with a forward motion of his leg, knocks or kicks the opponent's feet from under him, causing him to fall violently. So basically, the only way this one could have ended up in the rule book is that someone did it a few too many times and they didn't have another rule that covered it.

53.1, Throwing Equipment. A player shall not throw a stick or any other object in any zone. A player who has lost or broken his stick may only receive a stick at his own players' bench or be handed one from a teammate on the ice (see 10.3). 10.3, to refresh, is Broken Stick, Player. Note that a later part of the rule states that penalty shots will be awarded to players who were fouled with thrown equipment while on a breakaway. In other words, this is another "don't even try it" rule. It's like can't exactly hide it, now can you?

Favorite highlights:

In case you're wondering why broken or lost sticks are left on the ice and not tossed aside: 53.2, Minor Penalty. When the player discards the broken portion of a stick or some other object by tossing or shooting it to the side of the ice (and not over the boards) in such a way as will not interfere with play or opposing player, no penalty shall be assessed for doing so. When moving a stick that is not broken, no penalty shall be assessed, as long as it does not interfere with the play and the player who lost said stick is not attempting to retrieve it, otherwise an interference penalty must be assessed. A minor penalty for unsportsmanlike conduct plus a game misconduct penalty shall be imposed on a player who throws his stick or any part thereof or any other object or piece of equipment outside the playing area in protest of an official's decision. And:

53.4, Misconduct or Game Misconduct Penalty: A misconduct penalty shall be imposed on any player who unintentionally or accidentally throws his stick or any part thereof or any other object or piece of equipment outside the playing area.

Morals of the story:

The game: This is some tricky business, this one. Throw a stick on purpose and you're penalized. Simple enough. But why the penalty for unintentional or accidental? Because what if it wasn't? What if the person did it on purpose and tried to make it look like an accident? As dangerous as it may seem for a stick to be on the ice during play, it's also dangerous to throw it off the ice, because a player, coach or manager could get injured. Look at what happened to Patrice LeClair when he was just sitting on the Montreal bench. A puck went flying off the ice and hit him smack in the face. Not even doing anything and off he went to the ER.

Life: Let's face it, we've all probably done this in life or had it done to us in some way. For example, I'm sure one or two of these will look familiar to you: The driver who cuts us off in traffic, causing a rear end collision for which we are then blamed. The company that hires an outsider for that promotion to which you were entitled and worked for, just because somebody knows somebody or he/she was a sought after professional commodity. The slightly wealthier couple who outbids you on the dream house at the 11th hour with an offer the owner couldn't refuse. A teacher who decided you were just a little too smart and gave you a D just because he could.

I believe a minor penalty is in order for such offenses, as follows:

Minor penalty and game misconduct for bad drivers in the form of being stripped of your license for a minimum of one year (depending on the severity of the offense), being blacklisted on car rental databases, insurance records and used car "dont sell" lists or anywhere else where you might try to sneak by and drive, a bus pass which will be sold to you at double the fee to remind you of your offense on a regular basis, and commuting on a bus route where the bus only comes every 45 minutes and if you miss that 7:52, you'll be late for work with no other way to get there but a $75 cab ride.

Major penalty for "corporate raider" types in the form of an office that has one flourescent light bulb that flickers constantly because the repair guy can never seem to fix it, heat and air conditioning that fail about every other day so you're either hot in summer or cold in winter, an email and online " big brother" feature that sends a note directly to the CEO everytime you try to do a little online shopping or fantasy football instead of your job, which you really don't know how to do anyway since you schmoozed your way to the top with a degree mommy and daddy bought you even when you got crap grades and didn't actually learn anything.

Game misconduct for teachers who willfully interfere in the education of students who are smarter than them, in the form of permanent exile to the most deserted part of Eastern Oregon (or similar area in your state, country, county), where you will be relegated to living in a double-wide that has a television with two channels, if you're lucky, one of which broadcasts the state's annual spelling bee, so that you can watch while said student proceeds to win while spelling the words for which you gave them the D, claiming they were "grammatical errors."
Up next on 1/11: Section 7, Restraining Fouls. Rules 54 and 55, Holding and Hooking.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Day 50, Rules 50 and 51

The game: Tampa vs. New Jersey. Record setting goalie, honkin' tall French captain. I'm in. But wait....

The final score: Suspended somewhere in the second period after a power failure that couldn't be resolved in a timely manner and rendered play unsafe. The score at the time was Tampa 3, New Jersey 0. The game was on Jersey's turf. Hmmmm...accident or conspiracy? Inquiring minds want to know.

Game on tap: Portland Winterhawks vs. Chilliwack Bruins.

Final score even though it hasn't been played yet: Chilliwack Bruins = TOAST.

The rules: Section 6, Physical Fouls. Rule 50, Kneeing. Rule 51, Roughing.

Number of sections in the rules: 6 (Rule 50). 4 (Rule 51).

Definitions: Kneeing is the act of a player leading with his knee and in some cases extending his leg outwards to make contact with his opponent. Kneeing can be punished with a minor or major penalty (based on severity of the infraction), match penalty (deliberate injury) or game misconduct (assessed in addition to a major). There are no fines or suspensions for kneeing, but the Commissioner may apply supplementary discipline at his discretion. Roughing is a punching motion with the hand or fist, with or without the glove on the hand, normally directed at the head or face of an opponent.

My favorite highlight: 51.1, Roughing (second paragraph). Roughing is a minor altercation that is not worthy of a major penalty to either participant. (An altercation is a situation involving two players with at least one to be penalized). And of course: 51.3, Match Penalty. If, in the judgment of the Referee, a goalkeeper uses his blocking glove to punch an opponent in the head or face in an attempt to or to deliberately injure an opponent, a match penalty must be assessed. To refresh, a major penalty is one in which a player is ruled off the ice for five minutes and no substitution is allowed. Things for which a major may be called include boarding, charging, cross-checking, hooking, kneeing and interference.

Morals of the story:

The game: Excuse me, what is the blocking glove for, if not for pounding someone in the head? Is there no mercy on goalies? These are the guys who purposefully and willingly get in front of pucks going upwards of 75 miles per hour, stare them right in the eye and go "bring it on." Everybody else goes "holy crap! Incoming!" and vacates. These guys hit it, catch it, dive on it, whatever and go "I got it. I'm good. No prob." Now you see why I like netminders so much - if that was me, I'd pound somebody anyway and take the penalty. I don't know how they do it, but it's impressive not only for what it takes to get in front of a puck physically, but for what it takes mentally.

Life: Roughing is the hockey equivalent of a parking ticket or a moving violation, or other motorized offenses that aren't quite a DUI/DWI. Like life, it doesn't quite stop us, does it? Roughing, really, is just a fight that got broken up by the referees. It's a halfway punishment for a halfway crime. Like a shot on goal, it would have become a fight if hadn't been stopped. Here's my advice: don't get caught in a roughing penalty. Live life all the way. Get in the fight and get taken down or take the other guy down. Halfway doesn't work in hockey and it doesn't cut it in life.

Next up: Section 6, Physical Fouls. Rules 52 (Slew-footing) and 53 (Throwing Equipment).

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Day 47, Rules 48 and 49

The game: IIHF World Junior Championship, Gold Medal Game, US vs. Canada.

Why I chose it: Portland Winterhawk Luke Walker is on the roster, and the US has the chance to break Canada's spell over this tournament.

The payoff: We broke it. Final score: US 6, Canada 5 in OT. We almost lost it after giving up a two goal lead in the last two minutes. Emphasis on almost.

Note for Portland Winterhawks fans and non-fans alike: Saturday night, 7 pm, the conquering heroes return. Luke brings the bling, and Nino brings newfound fame and fourth place for Switzerland in the WJC, where he was also named to the all-star team. And don't forget Ty Rattie and Tyler Wotherspoon with a solid fourth place showing in the under-17 World Challenge. We are proud to say they call our home their home, even if just for a few years. It's Saturday night in the Rose Garden and all Winterhawks will be present and accounted for and towing shiny things and strong finishes in world tournaments. Visitors the Chiliwack Bruins are toast. Period. Exclamation point.

The rules: Section 6, Physical Fouls. Rule 48, Head-butting. Rule 49, Kicking.

Number of sections in the rules: 6 (Rule 48), 4 (Rule 49).

Definitions: 48.1, Head-butting. The act of head-butting involves a player making intentional contact, or attempting to make contact, with an opponent by leading with his head and/or helmet. Minor for attempting, major for doing, match for injury and game misconduct for someone who gets a major. 49.1, Kicking. The action of a player deliberately using his skate(s) with a kicking motion to propel the puck or to contact an opponent. Match penalty for any player who kicks or attempts to kick another player.

My favorite highlight: 49.2, Goals. Kicking the puck shall be permitted in all zones. A goal cannot be scored by an attacking player who uses a distinct kicking motion to propel the puck into the net. A goal cannot be scored by an attacking player who kicks a puck that deflects into the net off any player, goalkeeper or official.

A puck that deflects into the net off an attacking player's skate who does not use a distinct kicking motion is a legitimate goal. A puck that is directed into the net by an attacking player's skate shall be a legitimate goal as long as no distinct kicking motion is evident.

A goal cannot be scored by an attacking player who kicks any equipment (stick, glove, helmet, etc.) at the puck, including kicking the blade of his own stick, causing the puck to cross the goal line. A five minute match penalty is imposed on players, whether or not injury results from kicking a player.

Morals of the story:

The game: The key here is "distinct kicking motion" and no kicking other players. BUT if you previously studied theatre and dance because you thought it would be a good way to meet girls and and learned a few moves that enable you to kick a puck without the distinct motion...dude, share with your teammates. Not that you want to make a habit of it, because kicking the puck is pretty much a cop-out. But let's face it, players should be armed with all possible weapons in the event of a goal-scoring emergency, such as during overtimes with one minute to go and the whole dumping it into the net the manly way with your stick isn't working.

Life: It's the opposite of life, in a way. We frown upon people who just get lucky in life and don't have to work and struggle a little to earn what they have and get to the top. Kicking your way to the goal is not only allowed, it's expected. I could never be the commissioner of life if kicking was against the rules, because I'd punish the people who just get the lucky bounce and reward the people who scratched and clawed their way to the top. You know who I'm talking about: the woman who's never had a guy cheat on her with her best friend, the men who never have stains on their tie or a scratch on their midlife crisis car, the executive who got the top without actually working because his or her parents bought the Ivy League degree that put them there.

In my rule book, there would be one punishment for those who are just a little too lucky: lifetime match penalty consisting of a "groundhog day"of bad luck in which you wake up every day to the same day, which will start with you spilling coffee on the newly dry cleaned Chanel suit, your vehicle breaking down just before you get to the home stretch of your morning commute, and proceed to a mid-day PowerPoint meltdown during a major meeting with a client, riding the bus with riff raff to the car repair shop, finding out that the credit card you were going to use to pay for the repair is maxed out and ending in a $60 cab ride home, where you discover that you left your housekey on the car key chain, which the auto shop is holding hostage along with your vehicle.

Next up on 1/8/10: Section 6, Physical Fouls. Rules 50 and 51, Kneeing and Roughing.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Day 46, Rules 46 and 47

The game: LA vs. San Jose and Boston vs. Rangers.

Why I chose them: Prime viewing opportunity for Anze Kopitar and Henrik Lundqvist. It's Monday, it's time to ogle.

Note for hockey fans in Portland (and reason for non-fans to join the fray): The World Junior Championships are all jazzed up about the Winterhawks' Nino Niederreiter. The US Team, with Luke Walker in the lineup, are headed for the goal medal round. Either way the US is coming home with a gold or silver medal and Nino could come home with bronze. Games on tomorrow night, NHL Network. The return of our hometown heroes, with shiny objects in tow...Saturday night, 7 pm, Rose Garden. I forget who we're playing, but who cares? Whoever it is, they're toast with butter anyway.

The rules: Section 6, Physical Fouls. Rules 46, Elbowing and 47, Fighting.

Definitions: 46.1 Elbowing. Elbowing shall mean the use of an extended elbow in a manner that may or may not cause injury. As with previous rules, the minor, major and match penalties and game misconduct depend greatly on the degree of violence and the injury that results. Now, more importantly, the best rule in the book:

47, Fighting. It's one of the longest rules in the book. Total number of sections in the rule: 22. They include: fighting, aggressor, altercation, clearing the area of a fight, continuing a fight, face protection, fighting after the original altercation, fighting off the playing surface, fighting other than during periods of the game, fighting before the drop of the puck, instigator, instigator in the final five minutes of the game, jerseys, third man in and the penalties for failure to proceed directly to the penalty bench. Basically, if you fight anytime before, during, near the end of or after a game, or continue after the original fight, you're doing time in the box, possibly getting suspended and paying a fine.

Official definition: 47.1, Fighting. A fight shall be deemed to have occurred when at least one player punches or attempts to punch an opponent repeatedly or when two players wrestle in such a manner as to make it difficult for the Linesmen to intervene and separate the combatants. The Referees are provided very wide latitude in the penalties with which they may impose under this rule. This is done intentionally to enable them to differentiate between the obvious degrees of responsibility of the participants either for starting the fighting or persisting in continuing the fighting. The discretion provided should be exercised realistically.

The higlights I didn't know but probably should have since as a loyal hockey fan, I love watching this rule get violated:

47.2, Aggressor: The aggressor in an altercation shall be the player who continues to throw punches in an attempt to inflict punishment on his opponent who is in a defenseless position or who is an unwilling combatant. A player must be deemed the aggressor when he has clearly won the fight but he continues throwing and landing punches in a further attempt to inflict punishment and/or injury on his opponent who is no longer in a position to defend himself.

47.11, Instigator: An instigator of an altercation shall be a player who by his actions or demeanor demonstrates any/some of the following criteria: distance traveled, gloves off first, first punch thrown, menacing attitude or posture, verbal instigation or threats, conduct in retaliation to a prior game (or season) incident, obvious retribution for a previous incident in the game or season.

Players guilty of being both the instigator and aggressor are assessed an instigating minor penalty, a major penalty for fighting, a ten-minute misconduct (instigator), and a game misconduct penalty (aggressor).

But I betcha didn't know this one: 47.6, Face Protection. If a player penalized as an instigator of an altercation is wearing a face shield (including a goalkeeper), he shall be assessed an additional unsportsmanlike conduct penalty. Should the player (including the goalkeeper) who instigates the fight be wearing a face shield, but removes it before instigating the altercation, the additional unsportsmanlike conduct shall not be assessed. Only in hockey... if you're willing to drop the shield and fight like a man, that's considered at least partially sportsmanlike.

And this one, just because I think it's ridiculous: 47.13, Jerseys, paragraph 3: A player who engages in a fight and whose jersey is not properly "tied down" (jersey properly fastened to the pants) and who loses his jersey (completely off his torso) in that altercation, shall receive a game misconduct penalty. If the player loses the jersey despite the tie down remaining in tact and attached to the pants, the game misconduct is not applicable, however this must be reported to the League office so that the jersey and the tie down can be examined.

Oh yeah, I'm sure repeat offenders like Carcillo, who basically lives in the box when he's not eating, sleeping or occasionally playing, worries about whether he's "tied down" while he's giving another player permanent brain damage. I don't recall him stopping in the middle of a fight to declare "crap, I'm not tied down! Never mind, I give up. You win."

I love it....they have a rule for petty things like tying down, but head hits and crippling punches to the head...hey, no problem. As long as you got dressed properly, carry on.

The final score: Rangers 3, Boston 2. The B's kept in interesting by tying up a 2-0 game in the final minutes with 2 goals in 1:26. Unfortunately for them, the Rangers answered and shut 'em down.

Favorite fights: Max Talbot putting himself in harm's way with Carcillo during game six of the playoffs with the Flyers just to get his team going. Portland Winterhawks' captain Brett Ponich doing the same thing to Andy Blanke in the Swift Current game Dec. 18. Check it out on if you didn't see it live.

The morals of the story:

The game: The most interesting thing about this rule is that it has never stopped players from getting in fights. Really, all it does is give players the choice of how many penalties they want to incur. You can stop once you've knocked the other guy to the ice in a fair fight, or you can keep going and add to the punishment. This rule never says "no fighting allowed." It just delineates a fight from instigation and outlines the punishment. And frankly, if fighting was truly banned, why go to a hockey game at all? Why not ban unfair play altogether and get it over with.

Life: I'm not married, nor do I care to be, but I wonder how many marriages or long term committed relationships would be saved if this rule was instituted for relationships. I would make the punishment fit the crime, were I the NHL commissioner of life fights. Here's an example of how it would work:

Fighting: Defined as any indvidual who deliberately starts a fight over the following: overdrawing the checking account, refusing to load the dishwasher properly and rinse the dishes throughly before putting them in, being unable to go to the grocery store and purchase the right amount of healthy food (note: you cannot claim to have bought a weeks' worth of food because you bought the 10-item special on frozen dinners and a six pack of beer) and dressing children in mismatched clothing for day care because you couldn't figure out how to get an outfit together that consists of a pink flowered dress, pink shoes and a pink ribbon. Pink, Pink, Pink - how hard can it be? Penalty: If accused is guilty of said crime, the aggressor may continue on with harrassment and accused must serve a penalty of having to get an allowance instead of being allowed to carry the checkbook or debit card around in their wallet, not having a home cooked meal ready at the end of the day when you get home for a minimum of 7 days, thus relegating you to rationing said TV dinners and beer, and being forced to attend a "fashion emergency" class for parents whereby you will learn how to coordinate an outfit without the help of Garanimals tags.

Now you see why I'm not married.

Next up: Section 6, Physical fouls. Rules 48 and 49, Head-Butting and Kicking.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Day 45, Rule 45

The game: Pittsburgh vs. Tampa Bay.

Why I chose it: The defending champs face off against a team on the comeback trail. Plus, it's loaded with players who are about to become Olympians.

Pit stop for: The Switzerland vs. Russia World Junior Game. The Portland Winterhawks' own Nino Niederreiter just scored the game-tying goal with 32 seconds to go - it's going to OT. There's a crowd cheering just for him. it comes....he just scored the game winner after two near-miss attempts. The Swiss team has never beaten the Russians at the world juniors. With this victory, they move on to the semi-final medal round.

The rule: Section 6, Physical Fouls. Rule 45, Clipping.

Number of sections in the rule: 6.

Definition: Clipping is the act of throwing the body, from any direction, across or below the knees of an opponent. A player may not deliver a check in a "clipping" manner, nor lower his own body position to deliver a check on or below an opponent's knees. A minor penalty can be assessed for clipping, but if you do it with intent to injure or actual injury occurs, it's a major, match or misconduct.

My favorite highlight: 45.1, Clipping. The above definition and the following: An illegal "low hit" is a check that is delivered by a player who may or may not have both skates on the ice, with his sole intent to check the opponent in the area of his knees. A player may not lower his body position to deliver a check to an opponent's knees.

The final score: Tampa Bay 3, Pittsburgh 1. Major dilemma: I don't know whether to be happy for Tampa for the continuing comeback or sad for the Pens' loss.

Morals of the story:

The game: Hello! I always thought this move was charging. I see guys do it and I'm like, why? It's not like you can say you just fell down. This "is what it is." You do it, you're toast.

Life: I think I saw a few women do this during the post-Christmas shoe sale at Nordstrom. Girlfight on a Saturday afternoon shopping excursion - you don't want to get in the middle of that. But what if you did? What would be the penalty? A minor penalty shall be assessed to anyone desperate enough to do this to save $10 on boots, in the form of forfeiting said purchase all together, along with any sale coupons. A major penalty of not being able to return to the store for the half yearly sale will be assessed if the offending shopper injures anyone in the attempt to clip another customer.

Next up on 1/3: Section 6, Physical Fouls. Rule 46, Elbowing.

Day 44, Rule 44

The game: The Winter Classic, of course. Philly vs. Boston on their home ice, in this case a frozen Fenway Park.

Why I chose it: Duh. For non-hockey types, this is the Super Bowl for hockey fans. It's pond hockey, NHL style.

The rule: Section 6, Physical Fouls. Rule 44, Checking from Behind.

Number of sections in the rule: 6.

Definition: A check from behind is a check delivered on a player who is not aware of the impending hit, therefore unable to protect or defend himself, and contact is made on the back part of the body. When a player intentionally turns his body to create contact with his back, no penalty shall be assessed. This is a major penalty and above only offense - no minors are assessed for checking from behind. It starts at major and goes up to game misconduct and suspension (for two misconducts).

My favorite highlights: 44.3, Major Penalty: Any player who cross-checks, pushes or charges from behind an opponent who is unable to protect or defend himself, shall be assessed a major penalty. This penalty applies anywhere on the playing surface (see 44.5). 44.5, Game Misconduct: A game misconduct penalty must be assessed anytime a major penalty is assessed for checking from behind. A match penalty is assessed if the player attempts to or deliberately injures another by checking from behind.

The final score: Boston 2, Philadelphia 1 (in OT). The first time the home team has won a Winter Classic. The men's United States Olympic roster was also revealed, and it includes Tim Thomas, Brooks Orpik and Zach Parise.

The morals of the story:

The game: This is like the unspoken rule that you don't shoot a man in the back, but in this case you get busted for it. This carries so many penalties, why would you even do it? You can't even get away with purposefully turning around to force the other player to commit the check and get thrown in the box. Well, silly, because sometimes this is the only way to take a player down and if you have to spend a few minutes in the box, so be it. That's what big time players have to do to make it in the NHL.

Life: This is the hockey equivalent of blindsiding. Except in life, there's no ref to make the call and no penalty to the offending player or fateful action. The check from behind happens and you're left to pick up the pieces. I say we make our own rules for the life equivalent of checking from behind. For example:

-- For the significant other who declares they never really loved you and are now leaving you with the two kids and dog to drive a non-age appropriate car and date an even more non-age appropriate girlfriend, a major penalty shall be assessed in the form of draining said spouse's offshore bank account that he thought you didn't know about, using it to take a girls only spa trip to Tahiti, hiring a nanny for the little whippersnappers and for hiring a lawyer who will leave the little twit with nothing more than his inappropriate vehicle.

-- For investors like Madoff who think nothing of running a ponzi scheme on someone else's dime and trying to sneak it past even their own family, forget jail. A major penalty will be assessed in the form of living in a double-wide in the middle of the Nevada with a 1988 Toyota Corolla with 110,000 miles on it that only runs just long enough to go to the one Piggly Wiggly store where you can buy evaporated milk, stale bread and expired Chef Boyardee products with your half-ration of food stamps, after which the tow truck has to haul your stalled vehicle back to the trailer, provided of course you pay up front by signing over your welfare check as payment.

Next up: Section 6, Physical Fouls. Rule 45, Clipping.