Kukla's Korner Hockey
by Paul on 01/28/14 at 05:36 PM ET
By Tom Murray,
The “kicking motion” rulings that are coming out of the NHL’s War Room of late—or not—are beyond maddening, not only because of their lack of consistency, but also because with every decision we seem to get a new definition for what exactly Rule 49.2 describes as a “distinct kicking motion.”
And you need look no further than two games that were played over this past weekend.
At 3:45 of overtime in a Saturday afternoon game between the Blues and the Islanders, Franz Nielsen of the Isles fires a puck to the front of the Blues net as teammate Thomas Vanek heads for the crease. The puck bounces off his right to his left skate as Vanek is backing in towards the net, then slides under the pads of goalie Jaroslav Halak for what appears to be the winning goal for the Islanders.
But hold on. We’re going to Toronto for confirmation. Nearly four minutes of increasingly uncomfortable review (for the Isles and their fans) ensues as multiple replays are shown. None reveal anything close to any sensible definition of a distinct kicking motion. Vanek’s left skate never elevates and because of the gaggle of players converging on the net, there’s no time or space for Vanek to put a “distinct” kick on the puck even if he tries.
But it doesn’t matter. The goal call on the ice is overruled, the Blues get a second life and pick up a precious extra point with their shootout win.
Now take a look at the third goal scored by Mats Zuccarello of the Rangers in Sunday’s game at Yankee Stadium against Martin Brodeur of the Devils. Busting into the Devils zone with the puck, Rangers defenseman John Moore throws it over to Zuccarello; it bounces off him and then pops into the net behind Brodeur.
“Boy, that puck looked like it went off the skate of Zuccarello,” commentator Ed Olczyk immediately notes after a replay.
He’s right, it sure seemed to. Then again, it might have glanced off Zuccarello’s stick after hitting his skate, just before going into the net.
The point is, we never find out because the play is never reviewed by the War Room. And Zuccarello has a lot more time and space on this play than did Vanek the night before to maneuver or angle his skate into a position now defined by the league as one of “distinctly” kicking.
Just a thought here, guys: Unless someone truly makes what truly is a “distinct” kicking motion, why not just allow all these goals to count? That way, there would be no debate about the Islanders goal that was called back and the Rangers goal that absolutely should have been reviewed, given the precedent that was set with the Vanek ruling the night before.
But that’s the problem. Every time a precedent seems to be set with this rule, something even more apparently flagrant happens in an ensuing game and there’s not even a review.
All the players and fans want is clarity with Rule 49.2 and consistency in its enforcement. Right now we are getting neither.
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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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