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A Decline In Obstruction-Like Penalty Calls

from Daniel Wagner of The Score,

But the Dead Puck Era wasn’t just known for its tight defensive systems. One of the biggest contributors to the lack of scoring was the acceptance of obstruction by referees. Big, slow defencemen made their living on clutching, grabbing, and hooking, leaving very little room on the ice for creative offensive plays. One of the biggest changes during the lockout was the institution of “Zero tolerance on Interference, Hooking and Holding/Obstruction” in order to give skilled players more room to create scoring chances.

In the season after the lockout, the number of powerplays skyrocketed to 11.7 powerplay opportunities per game as players adjusted to the new rule. This season, power plays are, as the alarming NHL.com headline read, at a “three-decade low.”...

With the help of ESPN.com’s comprehensive statistics on penalties, I put together some projections for this season and compared the numbers to last season. Sure enough, there is a bigger decline in hooking and holding penalties than any other type of minor penalty.



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Evilpens's avatar

NHL says they are calling the gam the same since the lockout! BS

Posted by Evilpens on 03/08/12 at 01:58 PM ET


With both objective and subjective evidence showing that hooking, holding, and (I think most dramatically) interference calls being made far less frequently, my question is: why isn’t the league cracking down? Inertia? Fear of drastically changing things mid-season? Are refs consciously or subconsciously trying to protect defenseman from dangerous hits by aggressive forechecking?

I do acknowledge that players have learned to adjust the way they defend, but that started happening in the first post-lockout season and players probably fully adjusted by year 3. In 2010-2012 we’ve seen players push the envelope and test the boundaries of what is and isn’t allowed and it is clear that refs will allow much more than in the previous few seasons.

There is more of a push from outside the league (fans/media) to increase skill+scoring, than a letting ‘em play mentality. So why has this happened?

Posted by Dave on 03/08/12 at 02:41 PM ET

tuxedoTshirt's avatar

why isn’t the league cracking down?

I believe it is because there was an outcry last year when the league decided to call the playoffs in a way unlike what they had done all year.  This smells to me like they are trying to ensure there is less of a drastic change when playoffs start.  I think there was a directive to officials in late-December, and judging by fan response, a lot of people have observed the same sea-change.  This seems to be when they decided to label divers and ensure that they never get the calls.  Meh.  They certainly seem to have confused the players and coaches.

Posted by tuxedoTshirt from the Home of the 1937 World Champions on 03/08/12 at 03:04 PM ET

SYF's avatar

“Well, if Stephen Walkom wasn’t calling them when he returned to the ranks, I guess I shouldn’t have to call them as well.”

Whatever they’re doing, it ain’t working.  It’s just not working.

Posted by SYF from Twerkin' with Anastasia Ashley on 03/08/12 at 03:06 PM ET

J.J. from Kansas's avatar

Being a true student of the school of Panglossian Progress, I believe this entire phenomenon can be attributed to those most wonderful of players and coaches finally learning that hoooking and obstruction gets you nowhere and adapting their game so as not to interfere with their fellow men.

“Hooray!” I say. The punitive system of rehabilitation finally works!


Posted by J.J. from Kansas on 03/08/12 at 03:24 PM ET

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Paul Kukla founded Kukla’s Korner in 2005 and the site has since become the must-read site on the ‘net for all the latest happenings around the NHL.

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