Saturday, June 2, 2007
Experts: NHL needs to revisit the 'kicking' rule
OTTAWA -- The Senators got on the board in Saturday's Game 3, but not without a little controversy.
With 3:46 left in the second period and the Ducks leading 3-2, Ottawa captain Daniel Alfredsson directed a Wade Redden pass into the net with his skate, which was immediately overruled by referee Dan O'Halloran. But after reviewing the play, NHL senior vice president and director of hockey operations Colin Campbell ruled the goal was good even though league officials acknowledged Alfredsson had directed the puck into the net with his skate.
Our experts weigh in on the "kicking" incident:
If it isn't already on the agenda for Monday's general managers' meetings, then someone should quickly add "kicking pucks into the net" and move it to the top of the list.
Once and for all, the league should open the door to allow all goals, whether they go in off skates or are kicked in, regardless of any intent. If they make such an alteration to existing rules, they'll avoid the embarrassment of what transpired Saturday night in Ottawa.
"We didn't think it was a distinct kicking motion," NHL vice president of hockey operations Mike Murphy said. "That's the whole key right there."
OK. But that's not what happened earlier in the playoffs when the New York Rangers were denied a goal by Karel Rachunek, who scored when a puck bounced off his skate and into the goal in Game 3 of that second-round series vs. Buffalo.
There was no kicking motion, but Rachunek was ruled to have directed the puck into the net. Why was that not a goal? The Rangers wanted to know that at the time, that's for sure.
Similarly, Sidney Crosby had a goal disallowed in his first playoff game against Ottawa in the first round when a puck went in off his skate without a kicking motion.
More than getting these calls right, they need to be made right every time, something that hasn't happened at the most crucial time of the season.
Perhaps the NHL should go to a coin flip to decide their video reviews.
O'Halloran quickly and emphatically waived off the goal that went into the Anaheim net off the skate of Alfredsson.
Campbell believed that while Alfredsson did direct the puck toward the goal with his foot, he didn't use a "distinct kicking motion" on the play.
On that very similar play during Game 3 of the second-round series between the Rangers and Sabres, Campbell and Co. overruled an on-ice "goal" call on a play involving Rachunek.
An official in the Toronto war room explained that decision to the New York Daily News, saying Rachunek directed the puck into the net with his skate and a "distinct kicking motion" wasn't the sole standard in ruling on such plays.
While these are tough calls, the inconsistency in these types of rulings don't do the league a bit of good.