Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Kick it

According to NHL rules, it is illegal for a player to use a kicking motion to redirect the puck into the net. In the event the puck is kicked into the net, the goal is disallowed.

I have a simple question. Why?

The heads of the NHL claim they want to increase scoring and scoring chances. Why not make it perfectly legal for a player to kick the puck into the net?

The only reason I can think that the rule is in place is to protect goaltenders from having players skate over their hands when there is traffic in the crease. I'm sure league officials envision scrums where players from both teams kick and the puck and each other whenever the puck enters the crease. There is a simple way to address this. The rule should be written in such a manner that kicking the puck IN THE CREASE is illegal (for skaters, not goaltenders). Also, any player who is ruled to have intentionally kicked a goaltender regardless of whether they were in or out of the crease would be assessed a major and and automatic game misconduct. That should allay any injury concerns for the goaltenders.

Allowing players to kick at the puck would also cut down on the number of ridiculously long reviews that take place whenever a puck finds the net after being redirected with a skate. The proposed rule is much more straightforward than the current implementation, where referees must make a judgment call as to the intent of the player instead of a simple did he or didn't he proposition.

There are some who might argue that this would turn hockey into a sort of soccer-on-ice, which is silly. Anyone who has ever played the game, especially those forwards who make a living in the high traffic areas around the crease, will tell you that winding up to kick the puck leaves a player off balance and totally exposed. Think guys are going to wind up and take a big kick at the puck when there's a 90% chance they'll be floored by the nearest defenseman? Me neither.

Essentially, all the rule change would allow for would be situations where a player has an opportunity to deflect or redirect a shot or pass on goal. It wouldn't change hockey to soccer. It wouldn't allow players to throw or pick up the puck.

What is would do is allow players to redirect the puck using a kicking motion outside the crease. It would 1) clear up a rule that is currently to difficult to enforce uniformly, 2) increase scoring, and 3) maintain the safety of the skaters and goaltenders.

So what's the holdup?

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