Tuesday, May 06, 2008

The Kicking Rule

It seems like not a week goes by these days when there isn't another major controversy involving the officiating. No team sport has as much controversy around their officiating as the NHL, and it's mostly because no sport has as many rules open to interpretation as the NHL does. Even when a rule is written as explicit as possible, it veil of secrecy that surrounds "The War Room" in Toronto where all instant replay decisions are made.

You know a sport is in trouble when the biggest question facing it is what is and is not a goal. Today, we'll review the rule on the kicking motion.

You may have a better eye than me, but it seems that any time the puck goes off a skate and into the back of the net, that the league is going to review it. The best way to determine the actual outcome of this review? Flip a coin. No really. One night a player will kick the puck directly in the net, and the league will allow it, while other nights, the player will have the puck bounce off the back of his legs and into the net and the ref will say it was kicked in, even if the player never saw it.

The league has planned to look at this rule over the summer. The belief is that the rule is going to be modified so a kicking motion will be allowed as long as the blade of the skate doesn't leave the ice. Is rule going to get clearer? Maybe. Anything that takes discretion out of the hands of the officials/NHL war room in Toronto is ok in my eyes, but let's see if the NHL changes the rules at all, what the new rule is, and how it is enforced before we rush to any judgement. Sean Avery showed us how quickly the NHL can act when it knows it looks idiotic. The problem these days is showing the NHL just how foolish it can look.

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