Kukla's Korner

23 Intently Staring Goalies

Protecting goalies now to pay more later?

First, I’d like to apologize to the Edmonton and Dallas goalies. I obviously jinxed the bunch of them last week. Temporality doesn’t imply causality, but whoa….

Speaking of temporality, the cause d’jour is now whether the NHL should better protect their goalies. Actually, that’s protecting their goalies from hits by other players. That’s a different issue from protecting goalies from pucks hitting them in under protected or inappropriately re-engineered on-the-fly equipment. That should be looked at, and I hope once the GMs finish up with the player hits, they’ll take another look at how they can reduce other goaltender injuries.

So, the issue at hand. Goalies are getting hit by opposing players and in some case, being injured by these hits. Not good. Coaches are complaining. Teammates are complaining. And oh boy, are the goalies who are on the receiving end complaining. And when someone is going out of their way to hit the goalie, the aforementioned all have a right to complain. Put the player who’s out gooning into the penalty box, and if it’s serious, the play gets reviewed after the game, and the NHL office pick #4 on speed dial for the chat.

Sounds eerily similar to what happens if any other player is laid low by a dirty hit. That’s because it is. That’s all covered under 42.1 in the NHL manual. Non-incidental hits on the goalie inside the goal crease are also covered in the NHL manual, in section 69 of the rule book.

Now, let’s talk about the goalie going for a stroll outside of the blue ice. Once again, we’re going to take a look at section 69, rule 69.4:

69.4 Contact Outside the Goal Crease - If an attacking player initiates any contact with a goalkeeper, other than incidental contact, while the goalkeeper is outside his goal crease, and a goal is scored, the goal will be disallowed.

A goalkeeper is not “fair game” just because he is outside the goal crease. The appropriate penalty should be assessed in every case where an attacking player makes unnecessary contact with the goalkeeper. However, incidental contact will be permitted when the goalkeeper is in the act of playing the puck outside his goal crease provided the attacking player has made a reasonable effort to avoid such unnecessary contact.

When a goalkeeper has played the puck outside of his crease and is then prevented from returning to his crease area due to the deliberate actions of an attacking player, such player may be penalized for goalkeeper interference. Similarly, the goalkeeper may be penalized, if by his actions outside of his crease he deliberately interferes with an attacking player who is attempting to play the puck or an opponent.

Okay, that’s pretty clear—the goalie isn’t “fair game” outside the goal crease, so don’t run them, board them, trip them, or anything else that would be a minor or major penalty if it was done to anyone else.

I find this statement interesting, though:

"However, incidental contact will be permitted when the goalkeeper is in the act of playing the puck outside his goal crease provided the attacking player has made a reasonable effort to avoid such unnecessary contact."

Well, that’s interesting—it seems that this could be interpreted as stating that unless the contact is incidental, you don’t get to run into the goalie. So, “clean” checks are right out?

Seems like this is already covered in the book.

So why are all the GMs meeting to talk about this? I hope it’s because they know that their goalies are rare and wonderful beings, who cost them a load of cash, and if they lose their #1 goalie, they’re up the proverbial creek.

I hope it’s not "Can we shut up these louts on "After 40 Minutes", already!?!

But we arrived here, somehow, in any case….

Unfortunately, some of the past rulings seem to have helped to set up this situation. The "magic trapezoid" reduced the ability of the goalies to handle the puck. It was made pretty clear that this was aimed at goalies who handled the puck so well, they were allegedly giving their team an unfair advantage.

Shooting the puck over the glass without touching the glass to get a face-off, and hopefully a breather for your own team. That, once again, was aimed at the goalies who were really, really good at handling the puck, and who could pop the puck over the glass on request.

Then we spent a couple of seasons with the "can’t do the hokey pokey around the goal crease", which just made everyone nuts, still has Buffalo fans angry and resentful, and ultimately just confused the heck out of everyone.

These were all reactive rulings, in some cases solving a problem that was going to solve itself, since so few goalies fell into that category, and at the time, a number of them were on the verge of retirement.

However, what the rulings did do was create an environment where the goalie wasn’t puck-handling, and wasn’t getting reinforcements on the first rule of puck handling:

KEEP YOUR HEAD UP

If you’re puck handling and have your eyes on the ice, the rest of your body is going to be very shortly meeting up.

A goalie who handles the puck a lot of out of the crease will either learn to take a hit or stop wandering. You get a mix of "puck handlers" and "stay at home" goalies, which makes the game more interesting.

And sometimes you get Ron Hextall, who makes the game a lot more interesting. Do you think Lucic would have tried to run Hextall? Twice?

Ultimately, it comes down to this—if you keep making rules in a reactive mode, and you guess wrong, you’re going to have to pay more to fix whatever you’ve caused further down the road. That’s what we’re seeing now, and what we don’t need is more reactive rule-making. And stop making rules meant to slow down a small number of players. Time and other teams adapting will take care of those issues.

So, let’s deal with the issue, but not at the cost of causing worse problems later.

Filed in: | 23 Intently Staring Goalies | Permalink
  Tags: goalies, goaltending, nhl, nhl+rule+book

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And sometimes you get Ron Hextall, who makes the game a lot more interesting. Do you think Lucic would have tried to run Hextall? Twice?

He’d be a Lucic-kabob… a few seconds after the first hit.

Posted by Chuck Goolsbee from The High Hockey Desert of Central Oregon on 11/18/11 at 03:41 AM ET

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About 23 Intently Staring Goalies

23 Intently Staring Goalies comes from the 23 close-up photos of goalies that used to line the walls of my office.

On the good side, it kept down interruptions, but it also made sure I had to leave my trash outside my door if I wanted it picked up.

I've been watching and analyzing goaltenders for going on 40 years. Some of that was spent drawing goalies on my grade 8 math homework. Then it was taking my card decks and printouts to Indianapolis Racer games. Luckily, the Internet took off, and by 1991 I was half of the duo that would ultimately become the Plaidworks hockey mailing lists. I wrote "Handicapping the Goalies' for the San Jose Sharks mailing list, and took a lot of photos of goalies in action. I have around 5000 slides of mostly goaltenders in action from 1989 through 2001 from the WHL, IHL and NHL. Since I've gone digital, I've added about 10,000 more images to the library. During summers and when the league went dark, I was reading through multiple SF By area news papers, tracking ice hockey from the 1917 recreational leagues up through the California Seals.

We'll be talking about goalies and goaltending. We'll talk about whats going on now, who's in the system, and when the doldrums hit, I'll haul something out of the big bag of history, or something from the photo archives. We'll talk about who's hot and why, and who's not and what they can do to get back on track. We'll take a look at the trends in scouting goalies, and why a style may work for one team but not another. I'll battle with my dictation software to get it to understand Bryzgalov and Bobrovsky.

It should be interesting--hope you want to come along for the ride!