Sunday, February 28, 2010

2nd Place Isn't Losing, It's Just Victory with a Small V

The game: US. vs. Canada gold medal game.

Final score: Canada 3, US 2, in overtime.

Why I chose it: Oh please. Even non-hockey fans were watching this one.

Best play/mais oui: Once and future wonder boy Sidney Crosby, after being famously spurned from the 2006 Olympic team, scoring the game winning goal in overtime. With a nice little assist from Jarome Iginla, who passed the puck as he was falling down.

Second best plays: Zach Parise with the game-tying goal and pretty much anything Ryan Miller did throughout this game and this whole Olympics.

Silver is not losing: 30 years after the still legendary US. vs. Russia game, the country could smell gold again. But let's not forget that Canada was the favorite here. And Slovakia wasn't expected to get anywhere near the medal round. But they showed us all that it was anyone's game, right until the final goal. To those who think the United States "lost" today, talk to the hand. In a better late than never act of generosity, NBC broadcast the game live, we got a medal and we got a nail-biting, don't answer the phone, stop whatever you are doing, stone cold awesome hockey game. Be happy fellow's a good day for hockey, no matter what team you rooted for.

As for the whole will they or won't they let the NHL go to Sochi in 2014: Note to Gary Bettman: 1) True hockey fans will get up or stay up until unholy hours of the morning to watch live hockey. If they are playing and we can keep our eyelids open, we're in. 2) Today's game was a rare live broadcast and was a matter of national pride for both teams. It's very likely that thanks to the Olympics, the NHL just picked up at least a few thousand new fans.

Speaking of fans: Right here in Portland, we are awaiting word on the return of our own little piece of Olympic history, Luca Sbisa. And we couldn't care less if he won a medal. We have a real Olympian and NHL player on our ice who went, played and did so honorably. And tonight, our ceremonial puck in the Prince George game is being dropped by former Winterhawk Cam Neely. Ooohh, and we're in the playoffs, we have a US World Junior Champion in our lineup (who scored the game winner last night in Seattle, thank you very much), a WHL player of the month, a two-time CHL goaltender of the week, four NHL prospects, two players already drafted into the NHL and a break out star from Switzerland. GAME ON.

But wait, the Portland Winterhawks didn't go home empty handed: Former Winterhawk Brenden Morrow played for Canada and Memorial Cup champions Marcel and Marian Hossa came pretty darn close.

If you don't live in a town with NHL, AHL, college or junior league hockey: Move to one. Today, if possible.

Never mind the rule, I'll get to that tomorrow: For now, wherever you are, remember this: just five years after emerging from the NHL lockout, hockey is back. With a capital B. Enjoy the ride.

Next up: I'll get back on track tomorrow as the NHL resumes play and I take a look at the rule that explains why all those boys in the World Juniors were wearing full face gear. Stay tuned.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Put the Infraction-Related Uniform Down and Walk Away

The games: Slovakia vs. Finland and Portland Winterhawks vs. Seattle Thunderbirds.

Major peeve alert: I have to interrupt my viewing of the US-Canada gold medal game tomorrow to take my mom to the train station. Alert to the authorities: if you catch a British Racing Green Mini Cooper doing 90 down Cornell tomorrow, just make note of my license plate and mail me the ticket. I don't care if I mow down trees, bicyclists and small dogs that would fit in my handbag. I'm not stopping.

The rules: Section 2, Teams, Players and Equipment. Rule 210, Equipment. Rule 220 Player's Equipment (includes 221, Players' Skates and 222, Player's Stick).

This is so much easier than the NHL Rulebook: Rule 201, Equipment, has three sections, totalling three sentences. All equipment except helmets, gloves and goalkeeper's pads shall be worn under the uniform. Infractions related to the wearing of equipment shall be penalized under Rule 555 (Illegal or Dangerous Equipment, player is ruled off ice and team is given a warning).

Hey, at least it doesn't require an imaginary line: Rule 222, Player's Stick. The player's stick blade may be curved, and the curvature shall be restricted in such a way that the distance of a perpendicular line, measured from a straight line drawn from the heel to the end of the blade, shall not exceed 1.5 cm.

The scores: Finland 5, Slovakia 3. Portland 3, Seattle 2 (in a shootout, thank you Luke Walker for the game winner).

Morals of the story:

The game: This is a lot like the NHL Rulebook, in that it assumes you know how to get dressed and keep your crap together under the uniform and if you don't, off you go to fix it. It's like a grown up version of learning to tie your shoes. You don't get in trouble, your mom just makes you stop running around the playground so you can tie them.

Life: At 42, there are certain items of clothing that I myself have self-censored from my closet, my own warning for failure to wear the uniform correctly, if you will. These include: thong underwear (never wore them anyway, too T for Tacky), mini-anything (shorts, skirts, etc.), concert t-shirts, and stripper heels (never wore them, at 5'9" my center of gravity is already wobbly, five-inch heels are trouble waiting to happen). On the professional front, I also have some "I won't even do that no matter how old I get" attire choices: a super-short haircut that might look professional but which has the tendency to prompt male colleagues to make politically incorrect remarks about your sexuality around the water cooler, worn with orthopedically correct heels that are practical but screamin' ugly and a boxy suit that hides any shred of my figure. Oh, and gray hair. I'm trying it now while I grow it out and let me just say, it might possibly be the worst hair choice since the senior year perm debacle. Come summer, it's outta' here.

Next up on 2/28: Section 2, Teams, Players and Equipment. Rule 223, Player's Helmet. Rule 224, Player's Face Mask and Visor.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Give Me a C! Give Me an A! Give me the Privilege of Conversation!

The game: IIHF 2010 World Junior Championship gold medal game replay.

Why I chose it: The women's Olympic gold medal game is already over and Portland Winterhawk Luke Walker was on the gold medal-winning US World Junior Team. Local talent in a world-class gold medal game never gets old.

The rules: Section 2, Teams, Players and Equipment. Rule 200, Players in Uniform. Rule 201, Captain of Team.

How's this for the Queen's English?: Only the Captain and Alternate Captains have the privilege of conversing with the referee. Specifically, 201.C, Captain of Team: On the ice, only those designated players, if they are not penalized, shall have the privilege to discuss with the Referee any questions relating to the interpretation of rules that may arise during the course of the game. Mais oui:
Important: A complaint concerning a penalty is not a matter relating to the interpretation of the rules and shall be penalized. The penalty for this offense is misconduct.

But this is the best: The official playing rules specify the use of protective equipment out of concern for the orderly playing of the game, and for the safety, health and welfare of participants. However, such rules do not imply a guarantee by the IIHF that the use of such equipment will provide protection from injury. It is the responsibility of the player to ensure that the equipment used conforms, where specified, with the official playing rules and is worn and maintained in good condition in accordance with the manufacturer's warranties.

Morals of the story:

The game: Orderly playing of the game? Safety, health and welfare? Privilege of conversing? No wonder hockey's not popular in Europe. Who wants to watch an orderly, safe game where players are mindful of others' health and welfare? Booorrrinnng.

Life: Corporate America needs a few of these rules. For example, I want a job where I have the privilege of discussing with my boss any questions relating to a corner office, a promotion and a raise. Of course, I would have to take note that complaining about NOT having such things does not constitute a matter relating to my questions and is punishable by firing, so maybe I'll suggest this instead... a rule where we agree BEFORE a three-hour, stale doughnut, day-old bran muffin, bad coffee conference call that we will be sure to use our equipment (cell phones, Blackberrys) wisely to ensure that the call proceeds in an orderly fashion and we only interrupt it 10 or 15 times to take a call from imaginary colleagues and friends to prove how important we think we are and get out of presenting our portion of the 150 death-by-Powerpoint slides.

Next up on 2/27: Section 2, Teams, Players and Equipment. Rule 210, Equipment. Rule 220, Player's Equipment.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

It's a Long Way To The Top, But At Least We Can See It From Here

The games: Canada vs. Germany. Portland Winterhawks vs. Tri-City Americans.
Why I chose them: Ok, Canada's back. No need to panic. Yet. It's full-on pre-playoff mania as Portland faces off against the Tri-City Americans. Every game and every point counts, in the Olympics and here in the Pacific Northwest.

Ok, maybe it is time to panic with a small p: With Mac Carruth starting in goal, Tri-City just scored on us three times, only 52 seconds into the game. Letting three goals in early in a Tri-City game must be a right of passage for Portland Winterhawks goalies. Ian Curtis had a similar experience the last time we faced Tri-Cities on their home just took a smidge longer before he got pulled. That being said: I think it might be safe to say goal-letting-in-lightning has struck twice, therefore defying the odds and therefore guaranteeing it will never happen again, ever.

On the other hand...Woohoo!: The Swiss team advances to the next Olympic round, cutie pie goalie Jonas Hiller and Winterhawk Luca Sbisa in tow.

The rules: 160 - 172, Dressing Rooms, Rink Lighting, Smoking in the Arena and Music in the Arena.

How's this for motivation?: The dressing rooms for the linesmen/referees and players are required to be separate. But what if you made them share it? Players might be less prone to talk smack about what they're going to do to the other team, or to do it, if they knew the officials were in the locker room with them to keep watch and remind them not to. Oh wait...what am I thinking?....perhaps it's better to keep them separated.

In between these rules, there's this: It is not permitted to appoint a goalkeeper, Playing Coach or Manager as a Captain or Alternate Captain. The NHL allows goalkeepers to serve as captains but they don't allow coaches to play. If, during the game a team cannot place the correct number of players on the ice because of penalties or injuries, the Referee shall declare the game a forfeit.

Ooohh, did I say that out loud? I kind of want to see the game where there's so much carnage it can't continue. It's free stress relief. Forget that yoga class. Don't bother with the "Soothing Sounds" ocean sound effects CD. Skip the expensive glass of wine. Just give me a full scale, emergency room-inducing line brawl with mitts flying and jerseys being ripped off. I love those fights where you can't even see what happened until mitts go flying in the air and helmets hit the ice and several other guys decide they want a piece of it. If you're ever in Portland and wonder who instigates all the cheering when Luke Walker head-butted that guy while still wearing full-on face protection because the refs broke up an almost fight that (I think, well, let's face it I hope) he started, or when Brett Ponich saluted us after pounding Andy Blanke to a pulp... it was me. I admit it and I'll do it again.

Morals of the story:

Tonight it seems more appropriate that the morals be about the games and not the rules, so here it is:

Life/game: Every goalie can be pulled. Every player can be benched. And even the hometown favorite can fall back momentarily. Trying is not enough. Wanting it is not enough. Ultimately, there are some things even the best players cannot control. So, here's the lesson, which, like the red and green lights, is backwards: Sometimes the best way to hang on to what you want is to let go. Forget about points and playoff berths and seeds in playoffs and medals and NHL scouts. Like life, it's easy to get caught up and totally forget why you did this in the first place. It's easy to forget the first time you wobbled onto a frozen pond in December. That's why sometimes the best thing to do is to play like you never left it. I don't mean play without caring or get sloppy or slack or any of that crap. I have found in life that if you play like there's nothing to lose, chances are you won't. Try it sometime. You'll see what I mean.

Next up on 2/25: Section 2, Teams, Players and Equipment. Rule 200, Players in Uniform. Rule 201, Captain of Team.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Today, It's About More than the Rules

The game: USA vs. Canada.

Why today is special: Tomorrow is the 30th anniversary of the USA vs. Russia "Miracle on Ice" game. Thus, tomorrow is also the 30th anniversary of the day I discovered ice hockey.

Peeve alert: Why am I here and not in Vancouver? Oh right, I just escaped from grad school, there were no tickets online unless you wanted to scalp a few from the scammers who bought them all out, and I didn't pay attention to a calendar until just now.

So, it's about much more than the rules today: It's about why we watch the game. It's about what has changed, and what we have done in the past 30 years. And, just like then, it's about the hope that the best is yet to come. In hockey and in life.

And I can prove the best is yet to come: Part of hockey's future lives and plays here in Portland. Last night, after being in danger of going down for a third game, the Winterhawks rallied back to beat the Kelowna Rockets 3 - 2. The future names to watch for: Nino Niederreiter, Luke Walker, Troy Rutkowski and Mac Carruth. Best play: Luke Walker not giving up on multiple attempts to score. Not once. Not ever. And it worked: he scored the first goal and put Portland back in the game.

That being said, here's the rule: Section 1, Ice Rink. Rule 150, Signal and Timing Devices (encompasses Rule 151, Siren, Rule 152, Clock and Rule 153, Red and Green Lights).

What's the same/not too much is different: It's still backwards. Red still means goal and green still means stop (stoppage of play or end of game). But at least they explain why: "The purpose of the green light is to enable the Referee and Linesman to observe the goal and light in the same sight line and know exactly when the period ends."

The clock rule still doesn't include coaches, only spectators, players and officials. But it does include the names of the teams, time played in a period, penalty time remaining, score, time-outs, and intermission time.

Hey look, this actually happened once in the New Jersey vs. Tampa Bay game about a month ago: If, in the opinion of the Referee, there is not sufficient light to continue the game, he shall have the authority to postpone the remainder of the game or take a time-out, pending improvement of the lighting situation.

The puck just dropped and we're off: Ryan Suter, son of Miracle on Ice player Bob Suter, is the starting center. Team USA just scored at 19:19. Canada answered to tie at 1, and we just answered 22 seconds later. Ooohhhh, yeah... except for the fact it's Canada and not Russia, it's the same game all over again.

Morals of the story:

The future's so bright, we gotta' wear shades/the game: Ok, who really cares about this rule on a day like today? The son of a legendary player is in the lineup, we're kicking butt and asking later and it's the closest thing in 30 years to THAT day. Hockey's future is brighter than it has ever been, and I think it's safe to say there is indeed hope.

Life: I was a tad regretful that I didn't get my ass to Vancouver at all costs. but I have wine, I have chocolate, I have a sunset out my window and I have hockey. What else do I need? Well, maybe a few of the past 30 years back. But then again, there are so many I wouldn't trade if you paid me with free tickets to this game. #1) living in New York and seeing the world just like I wanted to, which included: Wednesday nights with the Niagaras at Mondo Cane; the first day I commuted in to New York for my first job; the first time I saw the Rangers in Madison Square Garden; Paris, Florence under a full moon, sunrise in Barcelona, surfing in Tofino, moonlight snowshoeing at Lake Louise, sunrise in Tahiti, our tour guide singing "Volare" to us on the bus when a rainstorm flooded Venice and we couldn't watch the jazz he had planned for us; my 34th birthday in London; breakfast at Bewley's in Dublin; watching the balloons get blown up for the Macy's parade every year; and New Year's Eve 1999 in Times Square (the only time I ever did it), the last good year before it all started to go awry.

In short, even if you didn't discover hockey that day, think about where you've been in the past 30 years (provided of course, you are old enough to do so). Did you do everything you wanted? Did you sell out or live it the way you wanted? If the answer is no: If you are here and you are reading this, then there's still time. Do it. Say it. Try it. Live it. In another 30 years, many of us who were there that day may not be here. Today's the day for much more than this game.

Next up on 2/23: Section 1, The Rink. Rules 160 - 172, covering Rink Lighting, Music in the Arena and Player's Dressing Rooms.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

European Rules, European Style

The game: Switzerland vs. Canada.

Major peeve alert #1: I tried to get tickets to this game, and they were alreay sold out by the time tickets went on sale to U.S. citizens. Note to self: Apply for the next job/career move in Vancouver.

Major peeve alert #2: NBC's broadcast schedule for hockey. We get no respect. It's hiding on CNBC at non-prime time hours and doesn't include pre and post-game hype, which is half the fun. If you can't figure the ticket crap out, at least give us a nibble of the real thing with some "do you believe in miracles?!" hype.

Final score: Canada 3, Switzerland 2 in a shootout.

Favorite move: My fave cutie pie goalie proving that his team can give the home country favorites a long and hard-fought run for their money. Caught the tail end of the third, overtime and the shootout. Friends, if Canada thought they were going to sail to a gold medal, I think it's safe to say they can forget it. Oh, and newly acquired Portland Winterhawk Luca Sbisa giving Rich Nash some smack talk at the end of regulation.

Advance preview of the IIHF rule on shootouts: Teams can start over with the same shooters after the initial three shooters have gone. Thus, Sidney Crosby got a second chance and took advantage of it to score the winning goal.

The rules: Section 1, Ice Rink. Rule 130, Goal Frame, Posts and Netting. Rules 140 - 143, Players, Penalty, Goal Judges and Scorekeeper's Bench.

What's the same as the NHL, sort of:

Rule 130.d. Goal, Frame, Posts and Netting. A netting of white nylon cord shall be draped over to enclose the back of the goal frame in such a manner as to prevent the puck from coming to rest on the outside of it, yet strung in a manner that shall keep the puck inside the goal net. But there are no requirements for a tensile strength of 700 pounds, no approved design, no No. 21 white nylon cord.

140.b, Players' Benches. The benches shall be on the same side of the rink, immediately along the ice, but opposite to the penalty benches, separated by a substantial distance or by other facilities, and convenient to the dressing rooms. The NHL Rulebook also requires that the players' benches by a substantial distance, if possible.

141.a, Penalty Benches. Each rink shall be provided with two benches to be known as the penalty benches for a minimum of five players each.

What's different: This rule has all the same basic requirements as noted above, but it does it with way fewer words and far less detail. It assumes players and officials who design the rinks, built the nets and goal posts, etc. are going to follow the rules. The NHL rules are written like the League knows players are going to violate them whenever possible, and thus there are a lot of restrictions, requirements and verbiage.

Morals of the story:

The game: These rules are a lot like Europeans themselves, at least from what I've seen on my global travels: straightforward, stylish, verbally adept, not overly complicated and thankfully not ingrained with the mentality that people are not to be trusted.

Life: I love my country, but I think we need to take a cue from the IIHF and do less with more, be happy with less and lose the "everyone is the enemy" mentality. We don't need the latest iPhone, cell phone/coffeemaker, whatever to be happy. We don't need to talk more on said cell phone to be heard. Style isn't about putting all your self-important technology in a $700 handbag and it isn't about owning more than your neighbor. It's right here in this rulebook: simple, honest, trustworthy and uncomplicated. In short: it's not what you wear, it's how you wear it.

Next up on 2/27: Section 1, Ice Rink. Rule 150, Signal and Timing Devices.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Look Out World, Here I Come

The game: Men's hockey is underway at the Olympics. First up: Russia vs. Latvia.

Why I chose it: It's the only game that I'm able to watch live. Plus, Alex Ovechkin and Evgeni Malkin on the same line? How insane is that going to be?

Oohh, did I say that out loud?: I kind of wanted Switzerland to win, because they are a bit of an underdog and Portland Winterhawk Luca Sbisa and my favorite cutie pie goalie Jonas Hiller are playing for the Swiss team. There. I said it. Now I feel better.

I'm already confused:

The rules in the International Ice Hockey Federation Rulebook are outlined much as they are in the NHL Rulebook: Rink, Uniforms, Players, Pucks, Playing Rules and so forth.

But here's the thing: The first section, which defines the layout of the Rink, states that a regulation rink is 61 meters long. That's just over 200 feet, which is the length of an NHL Rink. But everything I've read says an international rink is 210 feet. Proof that either a) The rulebook hasn't been updated in a while. b) I need to learn the metric system and not rely on to do the math for me.

The rules: Section One, Ice Rink. Rules 100, Definition of the Rink - 119, Goal Crease.

Biggest difference from the NHL Rulebook: Everything is in the metric system. Duh. The length (supposedly) is longer. The red and blue that define the center line and bluelines are not required to be a certain PMS Pantone color. There is also a rule for open air rinks, which is not defined in the NHL Rulebook at all. The rules start at 100 and go up from there. Like when you order checks from the bank and they tell you to start a higher number, so businesses will think you've had an account for a while and it therefore looks like you are a trustworthy citizen whose check won't bounce. The rules are much shorter and do not involve nearly as much detail. Instead, they include a lot more visual aids like photos and drawings.

Take this for example: 100, Definition of the Rink. The game of ice hockey shall be played on a white surface known as a "Rink."

Biggest similarities: There is still an attacking zone, a neutral zone, a defending zone, yellow on the bottom of the kickplate, five dividing lines on the ice (center, bluelines and goal lines), and protective glass and netting, goal crease, referee's crease and clearly defined lengths for the benches.

Favorite highlight: 119.d, Goal Crease. The goal crease shall be laid out as follows: A semi-circle 180 cm in radius and 5 cm in width shall be drawn using the center of the goal as the center point. In addition an "L" shaped marking of 15 cm in length and 5 cm in width (both lines) at each front corner shall be painted on the ice. The location of the "L" marking is measured by drawing an imaginary line 122 cm from the goal line to the edge of the semi-circle. At that point, the "L" marking shall be drawn.

Morals of the story:

The game: What is with hockey and the imaginary lines? Dude, if you're gonna draw an L, why not go the distance and draw an actual line. It looks different on paper, and the rules may indeed be different, but I love what Jonas Hiller once said about the differences between playing for the Swiss national team and the NHL. He said it wasn't really that different, because his job was the same: to stop the puck. That's true of the rest of the game as well: if you're the goalie, it's to stop the puck. If you're a forward, it's to score goals and set up plays. If you're a defenseman, it's to knock some other guy right down to the ice or the boards whenever possible. Ten extra feet or not, the game's the same.

Life: I want an imaginary line drawn between my current, successful life in which I have a master's degree, a steady job, an apartment with a view and I hang out on Monday nights with future NHL stars, and the one I lived in New York where, in the last year I lived there, I rented an apartment with a view of a brick wall, sporadic hot water, no couch and inside of three months, I lost one boyfriend to his ex-girlfriend, two jobs and my $1800 deposit on my apartment when I left before the lease was up. The imaginary line will be there to remind me never to step back over it into New York City for anything other than a vacation, and that one try for 10 years was enough. I tried, I failed, I came back. The good news is that you can go home again and sometimes it turns out better than you think it will.

Next up on 2/18: The Canada vs. Switzerland game and Rule 130, Goal Frame, Posts and Netting and Rules 140 - 143, which govern the size and location of benches.

Monday, February 15, 2010

These Are A Few of My Favorite Things

The game, which I had to go to because it's 48 hours until the puck drops on the mens' Olympic hockey and there's no NHL replays: Portland Winterhawks vs. Moose Jaw Warriors.

Why I chose it: Well, let's face it, I would have gone to it anyway. We lost 7 -6, but we didn't go down without a fight and in their defense, our team had just returned from back-to-back games in Prince George, which is an 18-hour bus ride from Portland. Even teenage boys need their beauty sleep, which I imagine is not easy to come by on a bus full of other boys snoring and texting and blasting their iPod headphones and what not.

Bonus celebrity sighting: Remember previous entries where I made fun of how cool it might be to see Anze Kopitar wandering around the Coliseum because his brother plays here? Well, it was no joke. I walked right past him on the concourse, where he was just walking among us peons with his girlfriend. Very tall. Very hot. And totally cool.

Now that I've read all 87 rules, here are just a few of my favorite things, in descending order:

10. Rule that should be added, with a "no excuses" punishment: Playing for the sheer love of the game and being grateful you get paid to do it. Players who have any other motives or who do any of the following will be placed on waivers so they can go re-think their priorities:

-- Turning down $100-plus million multi-year deal just to get out of being on a losing team.

-- After a team trades away three players to get you, leaving that team after they narrowly lose the Stanley Cup in Game 7, and announcing that you are doing so to join a team that has a better chance of winning the Stanley Cup.

-- Announcing that you don't want to play for your country's Olympic team unless you are the starting goaltender.

If you are a hockey novice, Google Ilya Kovalchuk, Marian Hossa and Miikka Kiprusoff. You'll see what I'm talking about.

9. Another rule I would add: punishment for bad calls or bias by referees in making calls.

8. Rule that should never be removed or changed: Diving/Embellishment.

7. Rule I will never understand, even after NHL Prospect Ryan Johansen personally explained it to me: Icing. Scoring opportunity or act of desperation? Inquiring minds want to know.

6. Another rule I don't get: Rule 9.4, Goalkeeper's Jersey. No "tying down" of the sweater is allowed at the wrists if it creates a tension across the jersey such that a "webbing effect" is created in the armpit area. No other tie-downs are allowed that create a "webbing effect." Still not sure why dressing like Spider-Man is banned, but it is.

5. Most pointless rule: Punishment for abusive or profane language. Why's going to get broken anyway.

4. Rules I will always mix up or get backwards: match penalty (suspension for balance of game, substitution allowed after five minutes), misconduct (ruled off the ice for 10 minutes, substitution allowed), game misconduct (suspension for balance of game, substitution allowed immediately).

3. Rule that needs to go, because it's in the way: Goalkeeper's restricted zone. They're taller than a Chistmas tree, they have to operate inside a space that's all of 6 feet by 4 feet, and they barely get to play the puck anyway. Let 'em have some space.

2. Favorite rule to see broken, repeatedly: Fighting. No game is complete without it.

1. Favorite rule: Rule 76, Face-offs. Because I had no idea what determined where a face-off takes place. Because I always wondered what constituted "encroachment." Because I always thought both players put their sticks in at the same time. And because I had no idea how important winning a face-off is to the outcome of a game. (Hint: Google Portland Winterhaws Dash for Cash and Chris'll see what I mean).

Next up: The puck drops on men's hockey at the Olympics tomorrow. I will be digging into the IIHF Rulebook next, as that is what governs the Olympics and international play.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Day 87, Rules 85, 86 and 87

The big finale: Well, I did it, with 24 hours to spare. The Olympics officially open in 24 hours. And I have officially learned all 87 rules in the book.

Major peeve alert: Getting tickets and a hotel for a limited weekend stay in Vancouver proved to be a little more challenging than I thought, so I will be viewing the games and moving on to the IIHF rules from the comfort of my couch.

But that's ok, because I will be busy with a few things right here on the home front:

The game: Portland Winterhawks vs. Tri-City Americans.

Why I chose it: We hadn't beaten Tri-City since cavemen discovered fire. More importantly, the one point needed to clinch a playoff berth was on the line.

I told you so: The Tri-City Americans are toast. T-O-A-S-T. Toast. With butter. And extra crunchy peanut butter.

Final score: Portland 5, Tri-City 3.

Is playoff one word or two?: With last night's victory, the Winterhawks have clinched a playoff berth for the first time in four years. I bought my playoff tickets this morning and may I suggest you join us? Like Ryan told me the other night, it's like a whole new season.

Favorite play/lame call by the refs: Mac Carruth proving that indeed there is more than one use for the blocking glove when he started pummeling a Tri-City player who interfered with him, knocked him down and the refs still allowed the goal he scored. To refresh: Rule 69, Interference on the Goalkeeper specifically states that "goals should be disallowed if...2) an attacking player initiates intentional contact with a goalkeeper, inside or outside of his crease."

The rules: Section 10, Game Flow. Rule 85, Puck out of Bounds. Rule 86, Start of Game and Periods. Rule 87, Time-outs.

The definitions:

85.1, Puck Out of Bounds. When a puck goes outside the playing area at either end or either side of the rink, strikes any obstacles above the playing surface other than the boards or glass, causes the glass, lighting, timing device or the supports to break, it shall be faced off at the nearest face-off spot in the zone from where it was shot or deflected out of play, except when the attacking team in the attacking zone is responsible for causing the puck to go out of play, the ensuing face-off shall take place at the nearest face-off spot in the neutral zone outside the offending team's attacking zone. Yes, that's all one sentence. But here's something I didn't know: If the puck comes to rest on top of the boards surrounding the playing area, it shall be considered to be in play and may be played legally by hand or stick.

86.1, Start of Game and Periods. The game shall be commenced at the time scheduled by a "face-off" in the center of the rink and shall be renewed promptly at the conclusion of each intermission in the same manner.

87.1, Each team shall be permitted to take on thirty-second time-out during the course of any game, regular season or playoffs. All players including goalkeepers on the ice at the time of the time-out will be allowed to go to their respective benches. A commercial time-out is deemed an "official time-out" and not charged to either team.

Things I didn't know but should have since I do after all need an intervention for my hockey addiction:

85.2, Puck Unplayable. When the puck becomes lodged in the netting on the ouside of either goal so as to make it unplayable, or if it is "frozen" between opposing players intentionally or otherwise, the Referee shall stop the play.

86. 3, Choice of Ends. Home clubs shall have the choice of goals to defend at the start of the game except where both players' benches are on the same side of the rink, in which case the home club shall start the game defending the goal nearest to its own bench. The teams shall change ends for each period of regulation time and, in the playoffs, for each period of overtime.

86.5, End of Periods. And I thought the horn was the signal for both: At the end of each period, the home team players must proceed directly to their dressing room while the visiting team players must wait for a signal from the official to proceed only if they have to go on the ice to reach their dressing room. Failure to comply with this regulation will result in a bench minor penalty for delay of game.

Morals of the story:

The game: I love the fact that a "frozen" puck in an ice rink is unplayable. I heard Pierre McGuire say somewhere that hockey was the only sport without an out of bounds, which is true for the men. It figures then, that the puck is the thing that's deemed out of bounds. There are 7 sections in Rule 85, all of which have to do with penalties and face-offs after a puck travels out of bounds. You'd think one is that pucks bouncing off officials would be out of bounds, right? Nope. In fact, pucks bouncing off officials is one of the few times play is not stopped.

Life: I'm notoriously late everywhere I go, so I need my own start of game and periods complete with penalties. Without punishment I'm free to roam around town 10 to 15 minutes late for very important dates and that's not a good thing. Unless of course it's a death by PowerPoint/conference call at 8 am, in which case I purposefully check the clock before leaving so I know for sure I'll miss at least two-thirds of it. And time-outs, well, who doesn't need a few of those now and again? Lastly, I think we could all use a face-off everytime we shoot a puck out of bounds. A face-off is essentially hockey giving you another chance when you whiff it on a shot. Second chances in life, however, are not so easy to come by. And in some cases not deserved. For example, if you cheat, lie or steal, those are not times when a "do-over" is warranted. But what about everyday pucks out of bounds, like just missing the bus and having to call in late to work, spilling coffee on the new white suit first thing in the morning and having to wear the stain like a scarlet letter all day, or accidentally cheering for the opposing team in a hockey rink because you forgot it was second period and they'd switched ends? For these, I propose a face-off in the neutral zone, giving them a 50-50 chance they'll get it right the next time.

That being said, it's time at last for my own personal time out, which sadly will not involve a trip to Vancouver. Instead, I will be back on Sunday with a "Top 10" List of what I've learned from all 87 rules. Then, I'll be back on Tuesday when the puck drops on the first men's Olympic hockey game, with the IIHF Rulebook in hand.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Day 83, Rules 83 and 84

The games: Anaheim vs. LA Kings (2/8) and Tampa Bay vs. Vancouver.

Why I chose them: Hotter than thou goalie Jonas Hiller is in the net as the Ducks seek revenge against the LA Kings. I also wanted to see if Vancouver was still standing as they head into the home stretch of their history-making road trip.

I bought pizza for a Portland Winterhawk and you should too: I had the privilege of winning the coveted player pizza thingy at the Portland Winterhawks' Booster Club Hawkey Talk event last evening, where my lucky number pulled up Ryan Johansen. The player pizza thingy is where you buy a pizza for the player and in return he sits at your table throughout the evening for chat, photos, autographs and what not. Nino Niederreiter may be the superstar-du-jour, but as our resident playmaker and one of several Winterhawks NHL prospects, Ryan is equally deserving of his 15 minutes of fame. Plus, he's 17, he's tall and he can rock an argyle sweater like it's the coolest thing in the world.

Sadly, argyle sweater or no, I myself must submit my self-nomination to the Total Dork Hall of Fame, because: I just now realized what determines the order in which the rules appear in a given section: alphabetical order. I finally get what Icing is. I can tell you the difference between a minor and a bench minor penalty. Just don't ask me to recite my ABCs.

Reason to brave the Memorial Coliseum on 2/10 with their stinky bathrooms, bad food and cramped seats: Depending on the outcome of tonight's Seattle game, if we beat the Tri-City Americans, we could clinch our first playoff spot since 2006. Just pretend it's the Rose Garden on Saturday night. And if you can't join us, repeat after me: The Tri-City Americans are toast.

Now, the rules: Section 10, Game Flow. Rule 83, Off-side. Rule 84, Overtime.


83.1, Off-side. Player of the attacking team must not precede the puck into the attacking zone. The position of the player's skates and not that of his stick shall be the determining factor in all instances in deciding an off-side. A player is off-side when both skates are completely over the leading edge of the blue line involved in the play.

Oh, I get it, at last: 83.3, Delayed Off-side. A situation where an attacking player (or players) has preceded the puck across the attacking blue line, but the defending team is in a position to bring the puck back out of its defending zone without any delay or contact with an attacking player, or the attacking players are in the process of clearing the attacking zone.

Score! Not!: 83.4, Disallowed Goal. If the puck is shot on goal during a delayed off-side, the play shall be allowed to continue under the normal clearing-the-zone rules. Should the puck, as a result of this shot, enter the defending team's goal, either directly or off the goalkeeper, a player or an official on the ice, the goal shall be disallowed as the original shot was off-side. The fact that the attacking team may have cleared the zone prior to the puck entering the goal has no bearing on this ruling. The only way an attacking team can score a goal on a delayed off-side situation is if the defending team shoots or puts the puck into their own net without action or contact by the offending team.

84. 1, Overtime. So this is why teams don't mind going to overtime. It's the automatic point plus the possibility of an extra point. During regular season games, if at the end of the three (3) regular twenty (20) minute periods, the score shall be tied, each team shall be awarded one point in the League standings. The teams will then play an additional overtime period of not more than five (5) minutes with the team scoring first declared the winner and being awarded an additional point.

And this is why I needed a math tutor in high school: 84.3, Overtime - Regular Season - Penalties. When regulation time ends and the teams are 5 on 3, teams will start overtime 5 on 3. Once player strength reaches 5 on 4 or 5 on 5, at the next stoppage of play, player strength is adjusted to 4 on 3 or 4 on 4, as appropriate. When regulation ends and teams are 4 on 4 teams will start overtime 3 on 3. If at the end of regulation time teams are three (3) skaters on three (3) skaters, overtime starts three (3) skaters on three (3) skaters. Once player strength reaches five (5) skaters on four skaters or five (5) skaters on five (5) skaters, at the next stoppage player strength is adjusted to four (4) skaters on three (3) skaters or four (4) skaters on four (4) skaters, as appropriate. At no time will a team have less than three players on the ice. This may require a fifth skater to be added if a two-man advantage occurs.

The final scores: Anaheim 4, LA 2. Tampa Bay 3, Vancouver 1. Vancouver's still standing. And Jonas Hiller is still hot.

The morals of the story:

The game: Well, overtime seems like a no-brainer, until you do the math. Therefore I propose the NHL move this one up in the book next to "Too Many Men on the Ice." Off-side is one of the few rules where it is what it is, unless the ref doesn't see where your skates are on the ice. Then you might stand a chance. But I wouldn't count on it.

Life: Wouldn't it be nice if we could get an overtime for all those lost moments and mistakes we make, just to get a few minutes or days to make it right and win the game? Or for vacations that never seem to last long enough? I propose a mandatory overtime for the following situations:

-- If working parents or caregivers are running late for work due to family obligations, there should be a five-minute overtime grace period, so they are not penalized or docked pay at work if they arrive at 9:05. Because really, does anyone do anything in the first 15 minutes of work except get coffee and check their instant messages, Twitter, Facebook page or whatever?

-- If you stayed late at work to get more work done in an hour than you do in a week on the last day in the office before your vacation, the extra hours should be credited to your vacation, thus extending it by a minimum of two to four hours, which is quite enough to get up for a later flight and lounge over one last room service breakfast.

Off-sides is another one we commit in life all the time: buying things on credit and figuring we'll pay the bill later, buying a house on a mortgage that we will also pay later, inching out into an intersection or off a side street or tailgating another driver because we think it will make them go faster, or inching up on slow people in a line to make them move. Or this classic: committing to a friend for dinner, when you know you're going to say no because you have something more important to do, but you don't want to own up, so you figure you'll just fake something at the last minute. All of which are lame and therefore should come with a minimum of a two-minute minor for assuming today's crap will be better tomorrow if we just put it off until then.

Next up on 2/11: The finish line. Section 10, Game Flow. Rule 85, Puck out of Bounds. Rule 86, Start of Game and Periods. Rule 87, Time-outs.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Day 81, Rules 81 and 82

The game: Pittsburgh vs. Washington, Portland Winterhawks vs. Seattle Thunderbirds (WHL).

Why I chose them: Dude, it's Ovechkin vs. Crosby. Duh. Ditto for the Hawks vs. the Birds.

The quirk: Portland beat Seattle by the same score (6- 3) on Friday and Saturday. Onward to Tri-City Americans on Wednesday. Repeat after me: Tri-City Americans are TOAST.

Future NHL stars you should pay attention to now: The Nino-Johansen-Ross line. We are privileged in Portland to have not only all three of these very special players on our team, but all in one line to boot. They are all draft eligible this year and just returned from the NHL prospects game. If you live in Portland, check it out while you can. You won't be disappointed. I may not have known what icing was (see below), but I do know beauty when I see it.

Why: Check out's archives or the Winterhawks' web site for Nino's one-handed breakaway goal from the prospects game, where he threw his glove off right before he scored with the greatest of ease. It's like watching women in the mall when they hand the purse to their husband and go "here honey, hold my purse while I try this on." Only in this case it was like "here, hold my glove while I go score."

The rule: Section 10, Game Flow. Rule 81, Icing. Rule 82, Line Changes.

Number of sections in the rules: 6 (Rule 81). 3 (Rule 82).

Ok, here it is, the moment you've all been waiting for. Here's what I thought icing was: When players moving at a high speed stop in such a way that they pile up snow on the puck so play has to be stopped. Really. Don't ask me where I got the idea...I don't even know. There. I said it. Now I feel better. Go ahead roll off the couch laughing. I'll wait.

So, here's what it really is: 81.1, Icing. For the purpose of this rule, the red center line shall divide the ice into halves. Should any player of a team, equal or superior in numerical strength (power-play) to the opposing team, shoot, bat or deflect the puck from his own half of the ice beyond the goal line of the opposing team, play shall be stopped. For the purpose of deflected pucks, this only applies when the puck was originally propelled down the ice by the offending team. For the purpose of this rule, the point of last contact with the puck by the team in possession shall be used to determine whether icing has occurred or not. As such, the team in possession must "gain the line" in order for the icing to be nullified. "Gaining the line" shall mean that the puck, while on the player's stick (not the player's skate) must make contact with the center red line in order to nullify a potential icing.

Line change, 82.1. Following the stoppage of play, the visiting team shall promptly place a line-up on the ice ready for play and no substitution shall be made from that time until play has resumed. The home team may then make any desired substitution except in cases following in icing, which does not result in the delay of the game. In case you think the visitors get the advantage by going first: the visiting team gets five seconds to make their line change and the home team gets eight seconds.

My favorite highlights: From the second half of 81.1, Icing. For the purpose of interpretation of the rule, "icing the puck" is completed the instant the puck is touched first by a defending player (other than the goalkeeper) after it has crossed the goal line and if in the action of so touching the puck, it is knocked or deflected into the net, it is no goal. Icing is not permitted when you are short-handed. It's also waved off if the linesman thinks a player on the opposing team could have played the puck before it crossed the goal line.

This I have to see: 81.3, Goalkeeper. If, in the opinion of the Linesman, the goalkeeper feigns playing the puck, or skates in the direction of the puck on an icing at any time, the potential icing shall not be called and play shall continue.

Just say no: 81.5, No Icing. If the puck touches any part of a player of the opposing side, including his skates or his stick, or if it touches any part of the opposing team's goalkeeper, including his skates or his stick, at any time before or after crossing the goal line, it shall not be considered icing.

The final score: Washington 5, Pittsburgh 4 in OT.

Morals of the story:

The game: If you're reading this and have free time on your hands, could someone please explain to me how a goaltender feigns playing the puck? A YouTube video will do. This is right up there with refs drawing an imaginary line to measure sticks for regulation length and width. But I see now why teams ice the puck and why the NHL made it a rule - it's a delay tactic or a sheer defensive move against a team that's stronger. So, at least I was right about the delay part.

Also, I have decided to coin what I call a "hockey minute." Three seconds isn't a lot to you and me, but to the home team it's enough to see who's out on the opposing team's line change so you can put the right one out to match them.

And it's more than enough to score a goal. Like here in Portland at this year's Dash for Cash. People were already leaving their seats because we were down by one to Seattle with less than 2 seconds to go. But thanks to a timekeeping-related detail, we got a second or so put back on the clock and Chris Francis tipped in the game-tying goal on a face-off. It was also a hat trick for him, and he scored the winning shoot-out goal. Now you see why we've beaten Seattle in 10 straight games: after that, anything is possible. And anything can happen in a hockey minute.

Life: There's one huge way in which we ice the puck in life: we go into debt to pay for things we can't afford right now. We buy it with plastic or a loan and pay it off later. We created our own monster by allowing cultural values to prevail that equate material worth with self-worth. We don't feel accomplished or important if we're not carrying the latest electronic toy or installing the fancy GPS/coffee-maker in our $80,000 Lexus. And God help you if you still listen to CDs on a Walkman. Here's the thing: I listen to CDs on a Walkman, I wouldn't know how to use the camera on my cell phone if you put a gun to my head, and I only just this past year bought a flat-screen TV. I couldn't care less about owning a lot of material things and my idea of financial freedom is not owing anyone anything.

I shouldn't be that hard to spot around Portland: if you see a geeky 40-something woman on the treadmill at 24-Hour Fitness with a Walkman and huge honkin' earphones watching the NHL highlights on ESPN, it's a good bet it's me.

Bottom line: Icing the puck is a penalty for a reason in hockey and it should be penalized in life to save us from ourselves. Better yet, prevent yourself from committing the foul in the first place. Next time you're tempted to buy a large piece of technology you probably don't need on a credit card with 15 percent interest, stop by the downtown 24-Hour Fitness or ping this blog. I'll be happy to talk you off the ledge.

Next up on 2/9: Section 10, Game Flow. Rule 83, Off-side. Rule 84, Overtime.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Day 79, Rules 79 and 80

The games: Tampa Bay vs. Calgary, Rangers vs. Jersey, and Portland Winterhawks vs. Seattle (WHL).

Why I chose them: It's hockey night in Portland in my humble abode. I'm watching the honkin' tall French captain in OT and I'll momentarily be listening to Andy Kemper's broadcast of the Seattle game.

I learned to skate today: And I didn't fall down or run into anyone or anything. I've never skated before in my life, unless you factor in countless weekends rollerskating on a Sunday afternoon in the 70s. It's the most fun I've had on a sleep-deprived Saturday afternoon in a long time.

The rule: Section 10, Game Flow. Rule 79, Hand Pass. Rule 80, High-sticking the Puck.

Number of sections in the rules: 3 (Rule 79). 4 (Rule 80).

Definitions: 79.1, Hand Pass. 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 directed the puck to a teammate, or has allowed his team to gain an advantage, and subsequently possession and control of the puck is obtained by a player of the offending team, either directly or deflected off any player or official. 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" under Rule 67, Handling the Puck.

80.1, High-sticking the Puck. Batting the puck above the normal height of the shoulders with a stick is prohibited. When a puck is struck with a high stick and subsequently comes into the possession and control of a player from the offending team (including the player who made contact with the puck), either directly or deflected off any player or official, there shall be a whistle.

Finally, I'm getting why there are nine face-off circles: 79.3, Face-off location. When a hand pass violation has occurred, the ensuing face-off shall take place at the nearest face-off spot in the zone where the offense occurred, unless the offending team gains a territorial advantage, then the face-off shall be at the nearest face-off spot in the zone where the stoppage of play occurred, unless otherwise covered in the rules. For High-sticking the Puck, this takes place at the spot that provides the least amount of territorial advantage to the team striking the puck.

But I'll never be a math major: 80.4, Numerical Advantage. When either team is below the numerical strength (short-handed) of its opponent and a player of the team of greater numerical strength (power-play) causes a stoppage of play by striking the puck with his stick above the height of his shoulder, the resulting face-off shall be made at one of the end zone face-off spots adjacent to the goal of the team causing the stoppage.

The final scores: Tampa Bay 2, Calgary 1 in OT. Rangers 3, Devils 1. Portland vs. Seattle is underway in 25 minutes.

Morals of the story:

The game: I want to know how you get away with "closing your hand on the puck." It's the puck, the single most important piece of equipment in the doesn't just vanish. If it's nowhere to be found and nobody put it into the crowd or a bench area or the netting, somebody's holding it. On both - dudes, it's not baseball. Put the puck down and carry on.

Life: High-sticking a puck and hand passing are heat of the moment moves that players, I would assume, undertake when they can't find another way to gain an advantage. We do the same thing in life all the time, but there aren't really a lot of rules stopping us. I propose my own punishment for high-sticking or hand passing the life puck:

Offense: Attempting to gain a territorial advantage in busy holiday parking lots by doing that thing where you circle back around to face a car that's already been waiting and you basically play a game of chicken over who's going to get into the space. Penalty: Automatic shutdown of your engine, forcing you to call a tow truck while you wait in the midst of an angry mob who can't get into their cars because you've blocked them in with your selfishness and utter lack of common decency.

Offense: SUVs that are turning left from a side street onto a two lane road, and pull up next a smaller car already waiting to turn right, and who inch up just a few extra inches past the smaller car so the tinier vehicle can no longer see the oncoming traffic. Penalty for the SUV, obviously: Provided there are no vehicles behind you, failure of your brakes and/or clutch such that you roll back down the street, leaving the smaller car free to proceed unabated. If there are vehicles behind you, automatic deflation of your tires so you can't go anywhere no matter what you can see, setting off aforementioned angry mob behind you, who are now stuck because of your arrogance.

In both cases, there shall be no punishment assessed to the offenders if said angry mobs get out of their fuel-efficient cars and pound you to a pulp.

Next up on 2/7: Section 10, Game Flow. Rule 80, Icing. Yes, it's the one we've all been waiting for, in which I will finally reveal what I thought it really was. It's worth the hysterical laughing at me, trust me. Thanks to Super Bowl Sunday, I will be highlighting the outcome of tonights Seattle vs. Portland game.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Day 78, Rule 78

The game: Anaheim vs. LA Kings.

Why I chose it: Starting goaltender and new bazillionaire with a brand spankin' new four-year contract Jonas Hiller rolls into LA to continue the party. Game on and no I don't care if you think LA's going to cook the Ducks for dinner. I'm all in for the cutie pie Swiss goalie/Olympian.

The peeve: According to the latest headlines, Ilya Kovalchuk is headed to the New Jersey Devils because a 12-year, $101 million deal wasn't quite good enough for him. One of the ways I plan to continue this blog is by learning the business of hockey (trade deadline, free agents, the draft, salary cap, etc.). I may not know a lot about hockey, but I do know this: If $101 million isn't good enough for him, I'll take it. In fact, I'm pretty sure anyone who works for a living and whose head isn't swelled to the size of a small planet would take it.

The rule: Section 10, Game Flow. Rule 78, Goals.

Number of sections in the rule: 6.

Definition: 78.4, Scoring a Goal. A goal shall be scored when the puck shall have been put between the goal posts by the stick of a player of the attacking side, from in front and below the cross bar, and entirely across a red line the width of the diameter of the goal posts drawn on the ice from one goal post to the other with the goal frame in its proper position. Yes you can score into your own net: "a goal shall be scored if the puck is put into the goal in any way by a player of the defending side."

Also important: 78.1, Goals and Assists. The Official Scorer awards goals and assists, notwithstanding the report of the Referee or any other game official. It is essential that the Official Scorer be thoroughly familiar with every aspect of this rule; be alert to observe all actions which could affect the awarding of a goal or assist; and, above all, give or withhold awards with absolute impartiality.


So this is how you move up in the League standings: 78.1, Goals and Assists. The team scoring the greatest number of goals during the three (3) twenty-minute periods shall be the winner and shall be credited with two points in the League standings. In the event a winner during the regular season is determined in the overtime period or the shootout, the winning team shall be credited with two points in the League standings and the losing team will be credited with one point in the League standings.

78.5, Disallowed Goals. Things for which goals are disallowed include:
(i) When the puck has been directed, batted or thrown into the net by an attacking player other than with a stick.
(ii) When the puck has been kicked using a distinct kicking motion.
(iii) When the puck has deflected directly into the net off an official.
(iv) When a goal has been scored and an ineligible player is on the ice.
(xi) During the delayed calling of a penalty, the offending team cannot score unless the non-offending team shoots the puck into their own net.

The final score: Ok, so maybe they did get cooked (Anaheim 6, LA 4). But still, the rally back from the 4-1 deficit to tie it up was still way cool. And I'm still all in for cutie pie Swiss goalies.

Morals of the story:

The game: The first part of the rule is a "no exceptions" deal, but of course it applies to the officials and not the players. I'm a supporter of fair play and enforcement of rules, because I don't like it when athletes win for the wrong reason, such as steroid use, any form of cheating, or only because of random acts or lucky breaks. I like it when teams have to claw their way into the playoffs and fight along the way to get the Cup or the Gold Medal or whatever. That's why I love Jonas Hiller's story. He once told an interviewer something like "you have to fight to be lucky." It's true. Luck doesn't come around twice and you have to work to earn it and to keep it.

Life: The disallowed goals is so like life. It's universally true that when life is going too well, something else comes along to balance the equation. Take, for example, my brief and notorious stint doing PR on Wall Street. I thought I had it made - finally had a decent apartment with a dishwasher and washer/dryer and everything. I was five minutes from the train station and the gym and my new commute by PATH train was 20 minutes. Door to door, it would only take 45 minutes, tops. My office was right down the street from the New York Stock Exchange. And every morning, I got to walk right under the Trade Center on my way to work. Pretty cool, right? Sure it was. As long as you leave out the part where the first day of my nice new shiny life started on September 10, 2001 and the luck lasted for all of 24 hours. Nobody gets lucky without fighting for it. And nobody gets to keep it forever. In some cases, not even for a day.

Up next on 2/6: Section 10, Game Flow. Rule 79, Hand Pass. Extra note: tomorrow it will be 7 days to the Olympics opening ceremony and there are 8 rules to go. Look for a double-header over the weekend so I can meet my deadline.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Day 77, Rule 76 (Part 2) and 77

The games: Montreal vs. Vancouver. New Jersey vs. Toronto.

Why I chose them: Vancouver is in the middle of an historic road trip -- I wanted to see if they were still standing. JS Giguere and Dion Phaneuf debuted with Toronto -- I wanted to see if a new day dawns in Toronto.

Nice move: A new day indeed...Giguere debuted with a shut out. Vancouver's still standing, and they cut the lead to one goal late in the game.

The rules: Section 10, Game Flow. Rule 76, Face-offs. Rule 77, Game and Intermission Timing.

Number of sections in the rules: 8 (Rule 76). 3 (Rule 77).

Definitions/finally I get it: 76.4, Procedure - Centers. The puck shall be faced off by the Referee or Linesman dropping the puck on the ice between the sticks of the players facing-off. Players facing off will stand squarely facing their opponent's end of the rink approximately one stick length apart with the blade of their sticks on the ice. When the face-off takes place in any of the end face-off circles... the sticks of both players facing-off shall have the blade on the ice, within the designated white area. The visiting player shall place his stick within the designated area first followed immediately by the home player.

77.1, Game Timing. The time allowed for a game shall be three (3) twenty-minute periods of actual play with a rest intermission between periods.

77.2, Intermission Timing. Pay shall be resumed promptly following each intermission upon the expiration of seventeen (17) minutes or a length of time designated by League from the completion of play in the preceding period. Teams get a warning at 2 and 5 minutes prior to the resumption of play, to ensure it starts on time.

Favorite highlights/I always wondered about this one too: 76.4, Procedure - Centers. If the center attempts to arrive at the face-off spot just as the five seconds elapses in an attempt to gain an advantage to win the face-off, he is removed from the face-off and replaced, resulting in a face-off violation.

And, at last, I get the whole encroachment thing: 76.5, Procedure - Other Players. Players on the attacking team (exclusive of the center) must establish their position first and then the defending team may counter and hold its position until the puck is dropped. A violation of this procedure shall be treated as face-off encroachment and the Linesman shall order the center of the offending team replaced. Later, in 76.6, it states that "Face-off encroachment may be applied during face-offs at any of the nine (9) face-off spots on the playing surface."

The final scores: Toronto 3, New Jersey 0. Montreal 3, Vancouver 2.

Morals of the story:

The game: So, what if the one stick in the "one stick length" is illegal? Is that where they bust out the drawing of the imaginary line to measure the stick length? Also, I now see the connection to the refusing to start play rule. You get the five minute warning, you don't start play, you're toast. And what's with the coming into the face-off at the last minute to gain an advantage? How do you get away with that? Everyone's there, the Ref's there and they're waiting for you and you think you're going to just stroll on in at the last minute and say "sorry I'm late?" Good luck with that.

Life: I need my own personal Referee and/or Linesman to travel with me on the Light Rail, Bus and Streetcar, so that when smelly people who brought their pet elephant and three Macy's shopping bags on board get in my face, they can be waved out for encroaching on the personal space bubble. For violation of the personal space face-off, citizens without a shred of common sense about when close is too close shall be assessed a bench minor penalty. A bench minor will consist of being kicked off TriMet and forced to walk to work for a period of no fewer than 30 days, giving them plenty of time to walk in the great outdoors so that they can better acquaint themselves with the concept of open space.

Next up on 2/4: Section 10, Game Flow. Rule 78, Goals.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Day 76, Rule 76 (Part One)

Major bummer alert: I missed the Buffalo vs. Pittsburgh game and there's a blackout on the Anaheim vs. Florida game.

Here's why: Sidney Crosby netted his third hat trick this season, and Evgeni Malkin continues the comeback with two assists. In the first game since he was signed to a four-year contract extension and became the Ducks' starting goaltender, Jonas Hiller shut out Florida.

And I'm kinda depressed about this too: On Wednesday, the Portland Winterhawks will play the Kamloops Blazers. It will mark the final time we will see our former goalie Kurtis Mucha on our ice. On the other hand, Kamloops has moved up from next to last in their division to second. Coincidence? I think not. Good luck all around.

Why I'm splitting the entry about this rule in two: The rule is five pages long, it's almost 9 pm and I'd like to get to bed before midnight.

But I digress...the rule: Section 10, Game Flow. Rule 76, Face-Offs.

Definition: 76.1, Face-off. The action of the Referee or Linesman dropping the puck between the sticks of two opposing players to start or resume play. A face-off begins when the official indicates the location of the face-off and the officials and players take their appropriate positions. The face-off ends when the puck has been legally dropped. A goalkeeper may not participate in a face-off.

76.2, Face-off locations. All face-offs must be conducted on one of the nine (9) face-off spots located on the rink.

My favorite highlight: I've always wondered why players get "waved out" of the face-off, so here it is:

76.3, Procedure: As soon as the line change procedure has been completed by the Referee and he lowers his hand to indicate no further changes, the Linesman conducting the face-off shall blow his whistle. This will signal to both teams that they have no more than five (5) seconds to line up for the ensuing face-off. At the end of the five (5) seconds (or sooner if both centers are ready), the Linesman will conduct a proper face-off. If, however:

(i) One or both centers are not positioned for the face-off,
(ii) One or both centers refrain from placing their stick on the ice,
(iii) Any player has encroached on the face-off circle,
(iv) Any player makes physical contact with an opponent, or,
(v) Any player lines up for the face-off in an off-side position,
the Linesman shall have the offending center(s) replaced immediately prior to dropping the puck.

In the last two (2) minutes of regulation time or any time in overtime, the Linesman will still blow his whistle to initiate the face-off, but the five (5) second time limit will not be enforced. However, players must abide by the verbal directions given by the Linesman in his attempt to conduct a fast and fair face-off.

Morals of the story:

The game: First, I had no idea there were nine face-off spots, and judging by the complexity of this rule all of them get used on a regular basis. This is another one of those "why would you even violate the rule" rules. Most teams put their best person forward for a face-off and you risk losing the face-off if your best person has to be substituted. But then again, I kinda like it when guys are so riled up and in your face they get kicked out. It's a lot like watching Sidney Crosby fight: he doesn't do it a lot, so it's automatically cool when he does.

Life: Corporate America should adopt a face-off rule for CEOs who want to own the market share in their particular industry. Just put a giant red face-off circle in the middle of the street, right in front of the New York Stock Exchange. Every morning before the opening bell, two CEOs chosen by lottery line up with sticks in hand, a neutral party drops the puck, and whoever wins the draw gets exclusivity on their marketplace for one week. Forget ads and metrics and impressions and customer satisfaction surveys and all that other crap. You get one week to sell us your crap without any competition getting in your way, and if we're not buying, too bad. After seven days of you in our face, we're either going to buy it or we're not. Move on.

Next up on 2/2: Rule 76, Part Two and Rule 77, Game and Intermission Timing.