Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Time To Change Kicking Motion Rule

If you happened to catch the end of the Philadelphia – Los Angeles game last night, you would have seen Scott Hartnell’s apparent overtime goal be reviewed for proof of a kicking motion which would have made the goal illegal. After making the fans wait for eons to be able to cheer a winning goal, it was deemed legitimate and the celebration resumed in an anti-climactic fashion.

But even if Hartnell had purposely kicked it in, why should the NHL have disallowed it anyways?
This is one rule that I think needs to be refined.

Why can’t a player kick a puck into the net?

It seems like it’s just one of those rules that no one questions simply for the fact that it’s there and must have some inherent reason for existing. Yet, time and again, the fans and players are subjected to endless reviews by video goal judges looking for the slightest intent to direct it into the net with a skate, interfering with the flow of a game and putting into question every goal because there are so many rules (including high sticks and goalie interference) that can possibly repeal it.

I think the first argument for the rule is that skates are sharp and if players begin to try to kick pucks in the net, then someone could presumably get hurt.

I don’t think that holds water. No player would intentionally use his skate to redirect or kick a puck when his stick is available. A skate is just not useful enough or accurate enough just by the inherent design. That would preclude teams intentionally drawing up plays that involved kicking the puck into the net. It’s just too unpredictable and ineffective. Of course you would have to draw the line if guys were trying to drop-kick pucks out of mid-air but honestly, what are the chances that would happen? Who in their right mind would think that would be effective? Players don’t try to use their head to direct airborne pucks and they wouldn’t use their skates either. There should be no fear of soccer creeping into the NHL game simply because the dynamics are totally different.

The only time a player kicks at a puck is out of desperation or sudden reflex. Virtually all of these incidents take place within five feet of the net when the puck is on the ice. What difference does it make if the player put it in with his skate or his stick? If a goal counts when it directs off your butt, what does it matter that it’s guided in by a skate, intentionally or not?

Removing this rule would not only add a few goals here and there that are traditionally waved off but it would end the constant delays when these goals are meticulously reviewed. If there is some major argument that proves the worth of this rule, then please let me know.

Otherwise, why are we disallowing so many goals because of it?


Matt said...

"Kicking motion" is b/s. I agree 100%.

In my opinion, the rule should be changed to allow pucks to be 'kicked' in, with the contingency that the skate was within 1-2" of the ice (to prevent video review to ensure the skate was on the ice), but also to prevent any Chuck Norris roundhouses that might occur should a player, say, lose his stick (which happens from time to time).

I can understand a player not being able to raise his skate off the ice, wind up, and boot the thing like a soccerball, but if he can skillfully redirect a puck into the net with his skate, it a goal.

Don said...

In close, guys would be kicking at the puck for all they're worth as you can't get stick around easily when it's crowded, no?

Rachael said...

I think it's partially to avoid injury. You really don't want guys kicking at the puck when the goalies down on the ice.