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"Distinct Kicking Motion" Has Got To Go

The following is a half-baked editorial rant. While everyone is trying to figure out why they're enforcing the rules this way, I'm asking why they just don't alter the rule to match what they've been calling since they're obviously pretty stubborn about it...

I wasn't watching live when the NHL waived off the Sedin goal and tin foil hats all over Canada fell to the ground as outraged puck-heads leapt off their mothers couches in outrage with new conspiracy theories. No, my darling little screaming daughter saw to that. But I rushed to the DVR after witnessing the Twitter-wave of unpleasantness to see what all the fuss was about.

I watched a single replay and said "Well duh, that's clearly not a goal."

Which is to say that "Judging by the way I personally have seen this called so many times before, it's not a goal." Which is to say that the NHL has likely damaged my perception irreparably.

We all remember this one:

The rest of the league can't afford to have this happen to them repeatedly, as Brenden Morrow has, to learn how the rule is actually being enforced.

Discussions this morning in hockey-land have centered around changing the way the written rule is enforced. What if instead (because they're pretty attached to the way they enforce it), they change the way the enforced rule is written?...

"Distinct Kicking Motion"

This phrase is quite simply the cause of all the frustration from where I'm sitting. Most fans do not spend hours reading the rule book. They don't know the history (precedents set) with these kinds of calls. They don't know much outside of the fact that their team just put the puck in the net, and now the guy on the television is using the phrase "distinct kicking motion."

IF you were to do a "man on the street" kind of interview series with fans in nearly any building in the league, you would find that "distinct kicking motion" conjures in peoples minds a player that deliberately and intentionally sees the puck and uses his skate to propel it into the goal.

The phrase sounds to the common man like it implies intent. I think this is what people are upset about. It's what I myself have been upset about. "How can you say he kicked it in?? He didn't even see it!!" <-- Is what we've said in the past.

Intent doesn't matter, but the verbiage makes it sound as though it does to some.

Here's the rule as it appears in the 2009-2010 book, which you can download here.

39.4   Situations Subject to Video Review - The following situations are subject to review by the Video Goal Judge:

(i)  Puck crossing the goal line.

(ii) Puck in the net prior to the goal frame being dislodged.

(iii) Puck in the net prior to, or after expiration of time at the end of the period.

(iv) Puck directed or batted into the net by a hand or foot or deliberately batted with any part of the attacking player's body. With the use of a foot/skate, was a distinct kicking motion evident? If so, the apparent goal must be disallowed. A DISTINCT KICKING MOTION is one which, with a pendulum motion, the player propels the puck with his skate into the net. If the Video Goal Judge determines that it was put into the net by an attacking player using a distinct kicking motion, it must be ruled NO GOAL. This would also be true even if the puck, after being kicked, deflects off any other player of either team and then into the net. This is still NO GOAL. See also 49.2.

Which refers you to this rule...

49.2   Goals - Kicking the puck shall be permitted in all zones. A goal cannot be scored by an attacking player who uses a distinct kicking motion to propel the puck into the net. A goal cannot be scored by an attacking player who kicks a puck that deflects into the net off any player, goalkeeper or official.

A puck that deflects into the net off an attacking player's skate who does not use a distinct kicking motion is a legitimate goal. A puck that is directed into the net by an attacking player's skate shall be a legitimate goal as long as no distinct kicking motion is evident. The following should clarify deflections following a kicked puck that enters the goal:

(i) A kicked puck that deflects off the body of any player of either team (including the goalkeeper) shall be ruled no goal.

(ii)  A kicked puck that deflects off the stick of any player (excluding the goalkeeper's stick) shall be ruled a good goal.

(iii)  A goal will be allowed when an attacking player kicks the puck and the puck deflects off his own stick and then into the net.

A goal cannot be scored by an attacking player who kicks any equipment (stick, glove, helmet, etc.) at the puck, including kicking the blade of his own stick, causing the puck to cross the goal line.

And again:

78.5   Disallowed Goals - Apparent goals shall be disallowed by the Referee and the appropriate announcement made by the Public Address Announcer for the following reasons:

(i)  When the puck has been directed, batted or thrown into the net by an attacking player other than with a stick.

(ii) When the puck has been kicked using a distinct kicking motion

And those probably aren't the only places it's discussed in the book. Mark Stepneski has told us that the league will also send out memo's periodically, further explaining rules.

Here it is again:



Change the Rule

But enforce it the same way you have been. (For a completely different discussion about enforcing the rule differently and whether or not Sedin meant to redirect that puck, see Puck Daddy)

There is a consistency to their enforcement. We've seen it in Dallas many times. It's how we all knew there was no way they were going to call that a goal last night, and it's how we all know there's no conspiracy against the Vancouver Canucks.

Take all this garbage about a "pendulum motion" and the word "deliberate" and the word "kick" and the phrase" distinct kicking motion" out of the book, and simply say it like you enforce it, Mr. NHL.

Say that the a players skate cannot be the object that propels the puck into the net. Say that it doesn't matter if the player is wearing a blindfold. It doesn't matter if the skate leaves the ice or not. Say it doesn't matter if the player is facing away from the goal (as we've also seen happen around these parts.) A skate cannot be moving toward the goal line and factor into a good goal. Regardless of intent. That's what you're enforcing, but it's not what your rule book says.

I'm sure you can find a way to word it much more eloquently than that.

Look at this one. Brenden Morrow was standing in the crease. Loui Eriksson uses his own stick to swipe at the puck, and in so doing, pushes Morrow's skate sideways into the puck, which then propels it into the net. It was ruled no-goal."Kicking" has nothing to do with this.

See a lengthier replay here.

Loui Eriksson's stick was the driving force that propelled the puck into the net. Brenden Morrow didn't even see it, but his skate was what touched the puck. To this day I don't think what's written in the book accurately reflects the ruling in this case and many others. "It's not a goal because of the things the league has said about the interpretation of the rule," someone said. Ok. But why does it have to be that hard?

The cause of the outrage is perception (well, and losing). The league knows how they want to enforce this rule, but they need to arm John Q. Public, and more importantly, the men with the microphones on television with better verbiage. Verbiage that doesn't conjure "intent" and kicking soccer balls in the minds of those listening.

If they're committed to continue calling these plays as they have been consistently for years, then "Distinct Kicking Motion" has got to go.

Otherwise, two wrongs don't make a right, and we have all been screwed: Stars and Canucks fans alike.