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.

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