Kukla's Korner Hockey
by Paul on 07/26/05 at 09:10 AM ET
It has become a "Rite of Fall" in the NHL. Every year, the league announces it will crack down on the holding, clutching and grabbing that takes place off the puck, reducing what should be a game of speed and skill into a taffy-pull. The announcement invariably sets off this chain of events: - Games in October and early November feature a parade to the penalty box with up to 20 power plays per game. Players, coaches and general managers start complaining that referees--doing only what they have been told to do--are ruining the game. - By Thanksgiving, the referees tire of the constant criticism and turn the other way on the holding, clutching and grabbing off the puck. The league, also tired of all the complaints, looks the other way. - By January, players, coaches and general managers are complaining referees are not calling the holding, clutching and grabbing off the puck enough and are ruining the game. It's a cycle that has been repeating itself for the last five years or so. "That has been the problem--enforcing [the rules] and then maintaining it," NHL operations chief Colin Campbell said Friday. "One of the problems in our game is accepting a penalty when it's called." So, in yet another attempt to open up the game and let speed and skill flourish, the NHL announced a "zero-tolerance" policy on obstruction off the puck and in the neutral zone. This time, the league says, things will be different.
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