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.

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